Critics of President Donald Trump’s Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh have cited the fact that he worked for President George W. Bush following the September 11, 2001 terror attacks on the United States when the administration decided to put in place “enhanced interrogation” presidential authority for fighting the war on terror.
But in an interview with the San Francisco Chronicle ahead of this week’s confirmation hearings for Kavanaugh, John Yoo, the man who wrote the memo granting that presidential authority, said the judge, if confirmed, would not be a puppet manipulated by President Donald Trump.
The Chronicle reported on Yoo’s “unusual vantage point” on Kavanaugh, including being a longtime friend and former Yale Law School classmate of the judge, a lifelong Republican, and someone who did not vote for Trump.
While the loudest and most passionate arguments at the confirmation hearings will be over abortion rights, the debate over presidential power could have more immediate ramifications. That debate could someday determine the fate of President Trump, as the investigation into whether his 2016 campaign colluded with Russia grinds on toward a possible showdown in the courts.
Yoo, 51, is best known for his willingness to stretch Oval Office power to its most lethal limits. When he worked in the Department of Justice in the months after the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks, Yoo wrote a legal memo that President George W. Bush’s administration used to authorize what it called “enhanced interrogation” techniques such as waterboarding on terror suspects in U.S. custody.
Many — including the late GOP Sen. John McCain — called those techniques torture. Some still think Yoo should be prosecuted as a war criminal for crafting the memo. Protesters still heckle Yoo wherever he speaks. He remains unapologetic, believing that the president has broad powers to act in the name of national security.
“I love it. I love that they hate me,” Yoo said in the Chronicle article.
The Chronicle article points out Kavanaugh’s critics worry that he would somehow protect Trump from any legal consequences he might face.
“Yoo said people shouldn’t worry about Kavanaugh going easy on Trump,” the Chronicle reported.
“I would bet money — a lot of money, actually — that Kavanaugh would say that the president doesn’t have any immunity,” Yoo said, for things he did before he became president, including answering a subpoena from Special Counsel Robert Mueller in the alleged Russian collusion investigation.
“I would expect Kavanaugh to uphold that, too,” Yoo said.
Yoo, who is now a law professor at University of California at Berkeley, is still critical of Trump and said he cannot predict how the president would react to dealings with the Supreme Court should he become the center of a case under its review.
The Chronicle article concludes that elections have consequences. And in the case of Kavanaugh, it most likely means Trump seating at least two justices on the highest court in the land.
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