Supreme Court confirmation hearings are always more interesting when there’s scandal involved. (Just ask Clarence Thomas.) Thanks to a document dump Friday by the Clinton Presidential Library, there’s a decent chance the Paula Jones scandal might be revisited as part of the confirmation process for President Obama’s new Supreme Court nominee Elena Kagan.
Nearly 90,000 pages of records from the Clinton White House, released at the request of senators who will vote on her nomination, show that Kagan played a role in crafting Clinton’s policies on abortion, gun control, welfare reform and tobacco.
They also reveal that she was among the small army of lawyers who worked unsuccessfully to postpone Paula Jones’ sexual harassment lawsuit against President Bill Clinton. His testimony for the suit, denying a sexual relationship with White House intern Monica Lewinsky, helped lead to his impeachment.
The White House insists that Kagan’s work on the Jones case was “routine.” But don’t expect that to stop Senate Republicans — many of whom have already made clear that they’re not happy with the pace of the White House’s document rollout — from asking about her role in the matter.
And Paula Jones might not be the only Clinton scandal brought up. Lee Ross at Fox News reports that Kagan played a role in managing the media during the Whitewater investigation:
In a letter to Georgetown University law professor Paul Rothstein, Kagan included talking points summarizing the Administration’s position that conversations President Clinton had with various lawyers several years earlier were privileged and beyond the reach of a subpoena issued by the Senate Whitewater Committee.
“We are providing these to a number of people whom we hope will write opinion pieces supportive of that position,” Kagan wrote in the hope that Rothstein and others who were sent nearly identical letters would draft op-ed pieces or otherwise be available to the media to defend the president.
In another handwritten memo Kagan said she was looking for help identifying people “who will support the general proposition….that conversations between a president’s White House counsel and his private counsel, can in at least some circumstances, be privileged (under the attorney-client privilege).”
These aren’t the first interesting papers to come out about the nominee despite complaints about the supposedly thin paper trail she’s left. Senate Republicans have criticized Kagan for memos she wrote while clerking for Justice Thurgood Marshall, and Kagan’s senior thesis on American socialism also served as fodder for critics on the right.