NYT: Kavanaugh Harassed Family Of Deceased Man To Hurt The Clintons
Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh spent three years investigating right-wing conspiracy theories surrounding the Clintons and former White House counsel Vince Foster, who took his own life in 1993.
In the process, Kavanaugh and his team harassed Foster’s friends and family — including his daughter — with no real basis for pursuing the case in the first place, other than potential political gain.
Princeton history professor Sean Wilentz combed through Kavanaugh’s files in an effort to uncover why the lawyer was obsessed with Vince Foster.
He writes in The New York Times:
Anticipating the imminent publication of Kenneth Starr’s memoir of the Clinton impeachment, I looked into Judge Kavanaugh’s files in the Office of Independent Counsel records, housed in the National Archives. What I discovered sheds light on how Mr. Kavanaugh made his way in his early career, and how he flagrantly breached his role as a neutral public servant and followed the imperatives of a political operative.
Mr. Kavanaugh served under Mr. Starr as associate independent counsel between 1994 and 1997, and then again in 1998. Although not yet a judge, he was charged with investigating impartially what Attorney General Janet Reno deemed substantial accusations of misconduct arising from a failed real estate investment known as Whitewater.
A total of three investigations on the matter reached the same conclusion: Foster took his own life, and the Clintons had no part in his death.
Judge Starr’s predecessor as independent counsel, Robert Fiske, had looked into unfounded claims that the White House counsel Vincent Foster, who committed suicide in Fort Marcy Park in 1993, had in fact been murdered as part of an alleged White House cover-up related to Whitewater. After a thorough investigation, Mr. Fiske concluded in 1994 that there was nothing to the conspiracy theories and that Mr. Foster, who suffered from depression, had indeed killed himself. Official accounts by the National Park Service in 1993 and by a Republican congressman, William Clinger, the ranking member of the House Government Affairs Committee in 1994, came to an identical conclusion, as did a bipartisan report of the Senate Banking Committee early in 1995.
However, Kavanaugh was not satisfied with the results, it seems. He convinced Starr to reopen the investigation — one he said would be “full-fledged” — claiming he had “received allegations that Mr. Foster’s death related to President and Mrs. Clinton’s involvement” in Whitewater as well as other scandals.
But Kavanaugh’s sources were less than respectable — or as Wilentz wrote, “some of the most ludicrous hard-right conspiracy-mongers of the time.”
One was Reed Irvine, a self-appointed debunker of the “fake news” of mainstream media. Another was Ambrose Evans-Pritchard, an English author of a book entitled “The Secret Life of Bill Clinton” that posited that the Oklahoma City bombing was an F.B.I. plot gone awry. A third was Christopher Ruddy, today the chief executive of Newsmax and confidant of President Trump, but at the time on the payroll of the right-wing tycoon Richard Mellon Scaife to promote conspiracies.
Though Kavanaugh’s notes reveal he personally did not buy into the conspiracy theories he was investigating, he pursued them anyway out of what seemed a sense of duty to those who believed them:
[H]e apparently felt obligated to address the conspiracy-mongers’ already disproved fantasies. And for nearly three years at a cost of $2 million he aggressively followed up. He investigated the Swiss bank account connection, down to examining Mr. Foster’s American Express bills for flights to Switzerland. He meticulously examined the White House carpets, old and new. (By now, Mr. Foster had been dead four years.) He sent investigators in search of follicle specimens from Mr. Foster’s bereft, blond, teenage daughter. (“We have Foster’s hair,” one agent working for Mr. Kavanaugh reported in triumph.)
For months, his inquiries callously harassed a grieving family and Mr. Foster’s friends. His office spread malicious sexual innuendo about Hillary Clinton, whom he seems to have regarded as prey. By reopening a closed investigation, he irresponsibly gave the Foster conspiracy freaks credibility to continue smearing the Clintons and poison public debate for another three years, all at the taxpayers’ expense.
For all his efforts, Kavanaugh found nothing new about the Clintons or Foster, but Wilentz would like the potential Supreme Court Justice to explain his actions to the American people.
Perhaps Brett Kavanaugh has changed his ways, just as he has changed his position on subjecting presidents to investigation. But he owes the Senate and the American public an explanation of what happened when he worked under Ken Starr’s cover and how and whether he has become a different man than he was 20 years ago.