Donald Trump’s nomination of Brett Kavanaugh for the Supreme Court was a mess from the start. Kavanaugh is far-right, but he’s not one of the names that his far-right base wanted. Kavanaugh spent years working in the Bush White House, meaning there’s a paper trail potentially tying him to every Bush-era scandal. Now we’re learning why Trump had to pick Kavanaugh, and we’re seeing that the nomination is already in all sorts of trouble.
We learned yesterday that Justice Anthony Kennedy was only willing to retire from the Supreme Court if Donald Trump was willing to replace him with Brett Kavanaugh. Kennedy gave Trump a list of five names, and the other four were intentionally not conservative enough to satisfy Trump’s far-right donors and base, meaning that Trump had to pick Kavanaugh. So now we know why Trump made such a bad pick. We say “bad” not just because we don’t respect his far-right leanings, but because his confirmation process is already turning out to be extraordinarily troubled.
Brett Kavanaugh lied to the Senate while under oath back in 2006, and it’s been known that he lied since 2007. He somehow managed to avoid getting kicked off the bench for it. But now that he’s a Supreme Court nominee, his perjury is of sudden relevance, and Senate Democrats have wasted no time pushing it into the spotlight. If this sufficiently scandalizes Kavanaugh, a few Republican Senators may decide that they don’t want him hanging around their necks when they run for reelection, and they may force Trump to come up with another nominee. That could allow the Democrats to run out the clock until they ostensibly take the majority in the midterms.
Keep in mind that all it takes is two GOP Senators to decide they’re going to vote no (or just one if the ailing John McCain doesn’t show up), and the Brett Kavanaugh nomination is dead. Kavanaugh has been the nominee for about five minutes, and he’s already on the hook for lying under oath. How much uglier will this get as the opposition vetting goes on? Because the scandalous Kavanaugh was his only option, Donald Trump is stuck with a nominee who’s in real danger of crashing and burning in a way that even the GOP Senate can’t salvage.
Bill Palmer is the publisher of the political news outlet Palmer Report