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Kavanaugh's 'Final Nail' Remark Riles Democrats

Trump Supreme Court pick has no love for independent counsels
By Neal Colgrass,  Newser Staff
Posted Jul 18, 2018 5:45 PM CDT
Supreme Court nominee Judge Brett Kavanaugh smiles during a meeting with Sen. Mike Lee, R-Utah, a member of the Judiciary Committee, on Capitol Hill in Washington, Wednesday, July 18, 2018.   (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite)

(Newser) – Independent counsels that investigate the president? Brett Kavanaugh says he'd hammer "the final nail" into a precedent allowing them—and Democrats are none too happy about his remark, CNN reports. President Trump's Supreme Court pick made the statement in 2016 when asked if there was a case he'd overturn. "Morrison v. Olson," he said at an American Enterprise Institute event. "It's been effectively overruled, but I would put the final nail in." That Supreme Court ruling upheld the right of independent counsels to investigate and possibly prosecute government officials; it expired in 1999, but newer regulations allow for "special counsels" answering to the US attorney general. Robert Mueller is just such a counsel.

Does that make Kavanaugh opposed to the Mueller probe? Possibly, per one legal expert: Kavanaugh's view "would call into question at least some of the means through which a sitting president can be investigated," says a University of Texas law professor. Kavanaugh is no stranger to presidential probes, having worked for independent counsel Ken Starr's investigation into Bill Clinton—but Kavanaugh says the experience showed him that presidents should be able to "focus ... with as few distractions as possible." Now Chuck Schumer and other Democrats are raising red flags over Kavanaugh's "final nail" remark, per NBC News. "Clearly," says Schumer, "Judge Kavanaugh's judicial philosophy incorporates an almost monarchical view of executive power." (Read more US Supreme Court stories.)

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