March 23, 2019

At Kavanaugh’s Supreme Court Welcome, a Tableau of Trump Legal Controversies

At Kavanaugh’s Supreme Court Welcome, a Tableau of Trump Legal Controversies

Justice Kavanaugh stood next to Justice Ginsburg’s vacant chair, his right hand in the air, speaking in a voice now familiar from his televised hearing. Afterward, he walked to the far side of the bench, taking a seat reserved for the most junior justice, next to Justice Elena Kagan.

Mr. Trump and the first lady, Melania Trump, smiled and applauded, and the president chatted and laughed with those seated around him.

The president did not speak in the court. But on Wednesday, he made clear how beneficial he believed the battle over Justice Kavanaugh had been for the midterms, particularly in the Senate, where Republicans expanded their majority.

The voters, he said at a news conference, “clearly rebuked the Senate Democrats for their handling of the Kavanaugh hearings.”

“That was a factor,” he continued. “I think maybe a very big factor. The way that was handled, I think, was — tremendous energy was given to the Republican Party by the way they treated then-Judge Kavanaugh, now Justice Kavanaugh.”

During the final days of the campaign, Mr. Trump exploited the passions generated by the confirmation hearings — even claiming, misleadingly, that “the accuser of Brett Kavanaugh” had recanted her allegations. “It was all a fake,” he said at a rally in Cape Girardeau, Mo.

Dr. Blasey never recanted her allegations that Justice Kavanaugh assaulted her in a Maryland bedroom when they were teenagers. Mr. Trump was apparently referring to another accuser, Judy Munro-Leighton, whose allegations never played a major part in the dispute over Justice Kavanaugh. But the president’s misdirection was deliberate — and, analysts said, effective.

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