Delaware Public Media

Sen. Coons questions former Watergate lawyer on Kavanaugh nomination

Sep 9, 2018

Confirmation hearings for Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh have wrapped up, but Sen. Chris Coons’ concerns about Trump’s choice for the high court remain.

Coons worries President Donald Trump nominated Kavanaugh to protect him from Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s Russia investigation.

Coons said Kavanaugh and the conservative majority on the Supreme Court may embrace the unitary executive theory, which would allow Trump to fire Mueller without political penalty.

Former President Richard Nixon’s White House counsel John Dean, who testified at Kavanaugh’s confirmation hearings, said Nixon tried without success to fire the special prosecutor during Watergate.

“First when he fired the special prosecutor, he reacted to the negative publicity that it generated and the interest in Congress suddenly in impeachment,” he said.

Dean said Watergate would have ended differently if the Supreme Court had not forced Nixon to turn over the tapes of his Oval Office recordings.

“It would have resulted in Nixon surviving," he said. "Without the tapes, it was my word against his and in the polling, he was - while I was out polling him at times, it wasn’t enough to resolve the problem.”

Kavanaugh has said he’d do away with the independent counsel statute, which expired in 1999, and Democrats point to his comments as proof of his broad views on presidential power. Senate Republicans want to confirm Kavanaugh by the end of the month.