Thursday, September 6, 2018

Commentary: Kavanaugh didn't just peddle Vince Foster conspiracy theories under Starr—it was his idea to do it

It has not been in the Republican interest to highlight Brett Kavanaugh's longtime career as a rabid Republican partisan, but his biography speaks for itself. It seems ridiculous to think that a man could catapult himself from a position as a Ken Starr investigator to the Bush torture-supporting White House to now being hailed by Republicans as a supposedly neutral and unbiased legal observer who would never ever do a partisan thing, but here we are.
Kavanaugh's time as an underling in the blatantly and viciously partisan Ken Starr "investigation" of any and all dirt that could possibly be uncovered or invented about then-president Bill Clinton has been left a bit mysterious, by design. We know Kavanaugh was tasked with investigating the very seediest of far-right conspiracy theories, including the notion that Clinton White House counsel Vince Foster's suicide was in fact an elaborate murder staged by, no sh-t, the sitting president and his wife for some reason. It was asinine, and deeply offensive to the family, and it had been investigated and dismissed multiple times before Kavanaugh ever put his own hands on it. So why did he do it?
Of all the possible things Kavanaugh could have "investigated" under Ken Starr, how did he end up in charge of the sleaziest, most conspiracy-addled, already-debunked Vince Foster “theories?" That was the gutter of Republicandom, even back then.
The answer, as Sean Wilentz narrates in the New York Times, appears to be that it was Brett Kavanaugh's idea, and he insisted on it. He spent $2 million in taxpayer money and nearly three years of "investigation" on it, and he did so, according to his own files, based on the theories of a collection of conspiracy-minded nutcases with absolutely no credibility on anything.
But shortly after the Senate report was released, Mr. Kavanaugh convinced Mr. Starr to reopen what he called a “full-fledged” investigation of the Foster matter, telling his colleagues, as justification, that “we have received allegations that Mr. Foster’s death related to President and Mrs. Clinton’s involvement” in Whitewater and other alleged scandals. [...]
One [“source”] 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 confidante of President Trump, but at the time on the payroll of the right-wing tycoon Richard Mellon Scaife to promote conspiracies.
To explain for the young’uns, this was literally the bottom rung of conservative conspiracy theorists, only a step sideways from the nuts handing out flyers at airports insisting that the Queen of England was secretly running drugs from South America because reasons. So either Kavanaugh had embedded himself with the worst conspiracy kooks the movement had to offer, or he was cynically using known fraudulent sources purely because he needed something, anything, to use as hyper partisan fodder against the sitting president—and he didn't give a damn how dishonest he had to be to do it.
Either way, Brett Kavanaugh acted as partisan hack of the worst, most rotten sort, and led his team in torturing all involved for the sake of his cheap, odious, and completely fake “investigation.”
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 Foster’s bereft, blonde, teenage daughter. (“We have Foster’s hair,” one agent working for Mr. Kavanaugh reported in triumph.)
Mr. Kavanaugh apparently took a special interest in Hillary Clinton’s bruited affair with Mr. Foster, a popular rumor in the fever swamps of the right. As he reported, his investigators “asked numerous people about it,” before he decided to ask Mrs. Clinton herself.
What a piece of trash this guy is. And Republicans made him a federal judge for doing these things.
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.
It's a testament to Republican ultra-partisanship that he was able to catapult himself from this almost immediately into a Republican White House job (where he allegedly didn’t see even a single thing referring to multiple White House efforts to break federal laws) to, soon after that, a judicial seat. He was rewarded at every step of his career for being a diehard partisan hack—and no matter how odious his acts or, apparently, how many fibs he has been willing to offer up to Senate panels, his allies still speak of him in glowing terms for being a great dad and pleasant carpooler.
One who is willing to torture grieving families for three years in service to his own political ambitions, of course. That should go without saying.
How a Vince Foster conspiracy theorist who dedicated years of his life to being the worst sort of lying, partisan hack, all in service to a new Republican dishonesty and viciousness that would continue to this very day, got himself nominated by Republicans as a supposedly upstanding man of principle worthy of a Supreme Court seat ought to be a debate all its own. It may be overlooked because of all the other crookedness surrounding his nomination, but it shouldn't be.

Editor's note: This article was originally published at the Daily Kos, which stipulates that its "content may be used for any purpose without explicit permission unless otherwise specified."

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