Donald Trump’s Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh dodged questions about the limits of presidential power on Wednesday, refusing to answer multiple questions about the president pardoning himself, and other related issues. As NBC News reports, Kavanaugh said that all of those questions were “hypothetical” and that he couldn’t answer them.
On this, the second day of Senate confirmation hearings for Trump’s pick to replace retired justice Anthony Kennedy, Democrats and Republicans alike pressed the judge on questions of presidential power – and Kavanaugh was loathe to answer them.
Speaking broadly to committee Chairman Chuck Grassley, an Iowa Republican, about the limits of presidential power, Kavanaugh said that no president is above the law, and that it’s the duty of any judge – and of the judiciary at large – to avoid being swayed by political pressure, while at the same time maintaining civility.
California Democrat Dianne Feinstein pressed for specifics. Asked whether or not a sitting president should be required to answer a subpoena, Kavanaugh declined to answer, citing the question as a hypothetical scenario.
“I can’t give you an answer on that.”
Vermonr Democrat Patrick Leahy took Feinstein’s line of questioning a step further, asking whether or not Donald Trump – or by extension, any sitting president – can preemptively pardon himself. Kavanaugh again declined to answer, citing his refusal to delve into hypotheticals.
“The question of self-pardons is something I’ve never analyzed. It’s a question I have not written about… It’s a hypothetical question that I can’t begin to answer in this context.”
Patrick Leahy threw off Brett Kavanaugh this morning with a line of inquiry about allegations that emails were stolen from Leahy's office during the Bush admin. Leahy's questions seemed to imply that Kavanaugh was in possession of some stolen emails. https://t.co/mwsTmU1ItJ
— Kyle Griffin (@kylegriffin1) September 5, 2018
As previously reported by the Inquisitr, Donald Trump himself is of the opinion that he can pardon himself. Back in June, the subject was being discussed, and Trump let his thoughts about the subject be known.
“As has been stated by numerous legal scholars, I have the absolute right to PARDON myself, but why would I do that when I have done nothing wrong?”
Legally speaking, however, the matter is far from conclusive. That’s because there’s nothing in the Constitution that addresses the subject either way. And in the absence of clear direction in the Constitution and in written law, courts rely on precedent. And in this case, there is no legal precedent.
There is, however, a Nixon-era Justice Department memo that says that a sitting president cannot self-pardon, as doing so violate the foundational legal principle that no one can be the judge of their own case. However, the memo was merely advisory and was not a legal ruling, so the matter remains unsettled.