Kavanaugh’s views on executive power not ‘a predictor of what he would do from the bench,’ says former clerk

Judge Brett Kavanaugh’s views on executive power are not a predictor of how he would rule on cases as a Supreme Court justice, according to one of the nominee’s former law clerks.

“It wasn’t at all a predictor of what he would do from the bench,” Sarah Pitlyk said Wednesday on Hill.TV’s “Rising.” 

“Justice Kavanaugh, first of all, would be one of nine justices,” Pitlyk, special counsel at the Thomas More Society, told co-hosts Krystal Ball and Buck Sexton. “He’s not going to be a single-handed rubber stamp one way or another for anything that the president does.”

“So I think that the concerns about that, just like a lot of the concerns about the judge, are kind of exaggerated and attempt to distract from his actual record,” she added.

Pitlyk said Kavanaugh’s statements on executive authority were intended to be policy recommendations.

“He was not saying that as a matter of constitutional law or as a matter of the Constitution,” she said, referring to his work with Kenneth Starr’s investigation into members of the Clinton administration and subsequent work under former President George W. Bush. “He was recommending it as a policy matter, based on his experience doing just such an investigation, and then working in the executive branch.”

President Trump’s nominee to the high court wrote in 2009 that criminal claims against sitting presidents should be addressed after the president leaves office, arguing that it is “vital that the President be able to focus on his never-ending tasks with as few distractions as possible.”

Democrats have seized on the statements, expressing concerns that Kavanaugh might side with Trump if special counsel Robert Mueller’s Russia probe were to find its way to the Supreme Court.

Democrats have also argued that Michael Cohen’s guilty plea, in which the former Trump lawyer implicated the president, should be more than enough to reason to block or delay Kavanaugh’s confirmation hearing.

— Julia Manchester

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