President Donald Trump‘s new tweet about the sexual assault allegations against Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh was striking because it hinted that the Department of Justice could be used for “personal ends,” says a law professor.
Trump complained in the wake of a New York Times article. It reported that before the vote to put Kavanaugh on the Supreme Court, the FBI didn’t fully investigate the allegation that he, then a student at Yale, thrust his penis at schoolmate Deborah Ramirez.
From the report:
Ms. Ramirez’s legal team gave the F.B.I. a list of at least 25 individuals who may have had corroborating evidence. But the bureau — in its supplemental background investigation — interviewed none of them, though we learned many of these potential witnesses tried in vain to reach the F.B.I. on their own.
The reporting also revealed that classmate Max Stier, who now runs a nonprofit in Washington, told senators and the FBI about another incident at an alcohol-fueled party. Kavanaugh’s friends pushed the future-justice’s penis into the hand of a female student, according to the allegation. FBI agents didn’t investigate the claim.
“Brett Kavanaugh should start suing people for libel, or the Justice Department should come to his rescue,” Trump wrote. “The lies being told about him are unbelievable. False Accusations without recrimination. When does it stop? They are trying to influence his opinions. Can’t let that happen!”
The president deleted a first version of the post with libel misspelled as “liable.” Some critics prodded him over this, but Professor Elizabeth Joh, a constitutional law expert at UC Davis School of Law, highlighted the legal ramifications of what Trump demanded.
It’s not the spelling. It’s the attack on a free press and the hint that the executive branch may be used for his personal ends.
— Elizabeth Joh (@elizabeth_joh) September 15, 2019
“Just a normal day when the President suggests a Supreme Court Justice should sue (for libel) or the DOJ should help him,” she wrote sarcastically.
[Image via MICHAEL REYNOLDS/AFP/Getty Images]