Embattled Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh once promoted conspiracy theories regarding Hillary Clinton‘s sex life, an Ivy League history professor who has researched the matter says.
Princeton Professor of History Sean Wilentz recently had the opportunity to look over many of Kavanaugh’s papers which are currently housed in the National Archives. Wilentz was moved to dig into those records after the publication of a memoir by Kenneth Starr–Kavanaugh’s one-time supervisor during the independent counsel investigation into Bill Clinton.
During his research, Wilentz discovered that Kavanaugh prompted his then-boss to reopen the long-since discredited investigation into the alleged murder of former White House counsel Vince Foster. Two previous, Republican-led investigations had thoroughly looked into the matter and came to same conclusion; Foster, plagued by a lifetime of clinical depression, had tragically committed suicide.
Still, conservative conspiracy theorists pushed the Clinton involvement angle, and Kavanaugh chased that angle down.
According to Kavanaugh’s own papers, however, the Supreme Court nominee was quickly and personally of the opinion that nothing untoward had occurred between Foster and the Clintons–but he pursued and promoted the idea anyway. Indeed, Kavanaugh’s Office of the Independent Counsel files contain links to six massive (3-500 page-plus) document folders related to the Foster investigation alone.
One focus of this umpteenth investigation centered around a specific and licentious conspiracy theory that Hillary Clinton and Vince Foster had previously engaged–or at the time of Foster’s death were engaged–in a secret, sexual relationship. In a conversation with Law&Crime, Professor Wilentz noted:
[Kavanaugh] seems to have been in charge of it. Obviously, there were others involved. He was not the only one by any means. But the very fact that he was most interested in getting the Foster case reopened speaks to his bending over backwards to investigate nutty right-wing conspiracy theories. He was the man.
Professor Wilentz continued, “There were any number of whacko conspiracy theories out there and just look at who was pushing them–those were the people who proposed reopening the case. So, yes, Kavanaugh promoted the rumors, because by investigating them, he gave the hard right official license to continuing smearing the Clintons for three more years.”
Regarding the affair rumor in particular, Wilentz said, “What Kavanaugh did was to run down every one of these (rumors), on the flimsy pretext that they wanted to prove all the conspiracy theories were nuts. In fact, by reopening the Foster inquest and prolonging it, they gave the nuts a chance to, in effect, re-litigate everything, giving their bizarre hateful concoctions an aura of dignity.”
“He [Kavanaugh] has the agents asking people about the rumors, thereby spreading the rumors. When you ask people about them, you spread them and get them out there,” Wilentz noted.
Kavanaugh’s own papers make note of the fact that his investigators inquired with multiple individuals about the affair allegations and even suggested asking Mrs. Clinton herself. In one tranche of National Archives documents, on pages 394-95, Kavanaugh writes, in relevant part:
We discussed the possibility of Foster’s extramarital affairs, a standard question in an investigation of this sort…I note that we have asked numerous people about Foster’s alleged affair with Mrs. Clinton, but have received no confirmation of it. If we want to pursue this line of investigation further, however, we should ask Mrs. Clinton about the alleged affair at her next interview.
And follow up they did.
At one point, Kavanaugh’s investigators went so far as to demand and obtain a hair sample from Foster’s blonde-haired, teenage daughter. (Due to the presence of “long blonde hairs” on Foster’s jacket, there may have been a cover-up, went the argument.) “We have Foster’s hair,” one of Kavanaugh’s agents reported back.
This unsupported but tawdry affair had long made the rounds of the right-wing rumor mills. Apparently by way of Kavanaugh’s intervention, the rumors seem to have made their way into the broader public consciousness, ultimately leading Foster’s surviving family to beg and plead with Starr’s office to stop its “outrageous innuendo and speculation for political ends.”
[image via Alex Wong/Getty Images]