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McConnell: Dem claims on Kavanaugh 'conspiracy theory catnip'

Democrats have said that Kavanaugh's writings suggest he should recuse himself concerning matters of executive privilege and in the Mueller probe.
Image: Mitch McConnell
McConnell dismissed Democratic claims about Kavanaugh's views as "outlandish."Joshua Roberts / Reuters

WASHINGTON — Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell on Thursday said Democratic claims about Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh's views on executive privilege were "outlandish," dubbing them "conspiracy theory catnip" for the liberal base.

“One of the flavors of the week was this outlandish claim that — in law review articles he wrote 10 and 20 years ago — Judge Kavanaugh supposedly said that sitting presidents cannot be held accountable under the law,” the Kentucky Republican said in a speech on the Senate floor.

“It was perfect conspiracy theory catnip for their far-left base,” he said. “The only problem was, it isn’t true. People who’ve actually looked at these articles note that Judge Kavanaugh ‘does not reach legal conclusions on issues’ of presidential accountability.”

Kavanaugh wrote in a Minnesota Law Review article in 2009 that it is “vital that the President be able to focus on his never-ending tasks with as few distractions as possible.”

“The country wants the President to be 'one of us' who bears the same responsibilities of citizenship that all share. But I believe that the President should be excused from some of the burdens of ordinary citizenship while serving in office,” he wrote.

He continued by arguing that President Bill Clinton could have lived without the distraction of the Paula Jones sexual harassment case and instead focused on Osama bin Laden.

Since Trump announced his nomination of Kavanaugh Monday night, Democrats have said that if confirmed, Kavanaugh should recuse himself concerning matters of executive privilege and in the Mueller probe, in particular.

“It’s no wonder [Trump] chose Judge Kavanaugh,” said Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., on Tuesday. Schumer said Trump believed his nominee would be a barrier for special counsel Robert Mueller in the investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election.

White House deputy press secretary Raj Shah, asked Tuesday if Kavanaugh should recuse himself should any questions related to the Mueller probe make it to the Supreme Court, did not provide a clear answer.

“Those are complex issues,” he said.