Dahlia Lithwick, a senior editor at Slate, told MSNBC’s Rachel Maddow that President Donald Trump may have appointed Brett Kavanaugh because of past statements about the protection the president should have from prosecution.
“I want to clarify one thing: in the article where he talked about this, he didn’t say as a Constitutional matter the president should be immune from all civil and criminal liability. He said Congress should pass a law to protect the president. I don’t think he was making the Constitutional point that is quite so broad,” Lithwick said.
Since Congress has done no such thing, it’s unclear whether Kavanaugh will take that position when given the opportunity to decide whether Trump can be prosecuted if the investigations take that turn.
Maddow noted that Kavanaugh was making a political comment that a prosecutor usurping Congress’ responsibility should be outlined in the law.
“I think it is important because it is not quite as dispositive of this question as we would like to think,” Lithwick explained. “On your question, if you think about how much fire Kavanaugh drew. Ted Cruz hated him. We had the whole Federalist posting one post after another saying, ‘We won’t be for Trump if he puts Kavanaugh up.'”
She said that she believes this isn’t the “fire fight” that the evangelical community wanted and that Kavanaugh isn’t conservative enough for their taste. She went on to say she was “stunned” at how the right brought out “the long knives against him” in the lead-up to Trump’s choice.
“I think that Donald Trump was making exactly the calculus you and Sen. [Corey] Booker (D-NJ) just identified,” she told Maddow. “‘If I have to figure out who to mollify, I have all these groups angry about someone. I am going to protect myself. I am going to pick the guy who wrote most expansively over the years about what the scope of presidential power is. And, I think, that in that sense you see Trump not looking at the landscape of ‘who do I need to satisfy in the upcoming mid-terms.’ He’s saying, ‘How do I protect me?'”
Watch the full conversation below: