Paul pledges 'an open mind' toward Kavanaugh

Paul pledges 'an open mind' toward Kavanaugh
© Greg Nash

Sen. Rand PaulRandal (Rand) Howard PaulOn unilateral executive action, Mitch McConnell was right — in 2014 Congress must step up to protect Medicare home health care Business, conservative groups slam Trump’s national emergency declaration MORE (R-Ky.), a critic of many Bush-era policies and a potential obstacle to Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh, says he will keep an “open mind” and decide how to vote after reviewing Kavanaugh’s record.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnellAddison (Mitch) Mitchell McConnellGOP Green New Deal stunt is a great deal for Democrats The national emergency will haunt Republicans come election season Trump: McConnell should keep Senate in session until nominees are approved MORE (R-Ky.) had advised President TrumpDonald John TrumpMcCabe says he was fired because he 'opened a case against' Trump McCabe: Trump said 'I don't care, I believe Putin' when confronted with US intel on North Korea McCabe: Trump talked to me about his election victory during 'bizarre' job interview MORE to consider nominating someone other than Kavanaugh in part because of concerns about how Paul, his fellow Kentuckian, might vote.

Paul in a statement Monday evening released shortly after Trump announced his pick said he would scrutinize Kavanaugh’s record closely.

Kavanaugh is closely associated with the George W. Bush administration, for which he served as staff secretary before winning Senate confirmation to the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals in 2006.

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Republicans effectively control 50 Senate seats — because Sen. John McCainJohn Sidney McCainGOP senator says Republicans didn't control Senate when they held majority Pence met with silence after mentioning Trump in Munich speech Mark Kelly's campaign raises over M in days after launching Senate bid MORE (R-Ariz.) is away from Washington stricken with brain cancer — while Democrats control 49.

If Democrats maintain total unity, a single GOP defection could be enough to sink Kavanaugh’s nomination.

Paul, a prominent libertarian, has criticized Bush-era policies such as warrantless surveillance.

He threatened to filibuster a long-term extension of a program allowing intelligence agencies to collect data on targets without a warrant.

He has also criticized the Bush administration’s use of harsh interrogation tactics such as waterboarding, and on those grounds he opposed Trump’s nomination of Gina Haspel to serve as director of the Central Intelligence Agency.

Kavanaugh denied any involvement in crafting legal policy allowing for harsh interrogation tactics during the Senate’s consideration of his nomination to the D.C. Circuit in 2005 and 2006.

The New York Times reported over the weekend that McConnell advised Trump that Kavanaugh would be tougher to get through the Senate than other potential nominees such as Raymond Kethledge or Thomas Hardiman.

The Times also reported that McConnell did not “want to draw the ire” of Paul over Kavanaugh’s role in crafting Bush-era policies.