The top Democrat on the Judiciary Committee suggested Thursday there was something funny about how quickly President Trump named his Supreme Court nominee, seemingly lending her voice to conspiracy theories that there was a deal in place with retiring Justice Anthony M. Kennedy.
“Historically, that process takes at least a month and at times that takes several months,” said Sen. Dianne Feinstein, California Democrat. “What this suggests is the selection of Brett Kavanaugh was preordained.”
An NBC reporter claimed this week that the White House had been negotiating Justice Kennedy’s retirement with him for several months in exchange for a promise Judge Brett Kavanaugh, who sits on the federal appeals court in D.C., would fill his seat.
The White House and top advisers in the nomination process have flatly refuted that allegation, calling it insulting to Justice Kennedy’s decades of service.
Justice Kennedy announced his retirement June 27. Judge Kavanaugh was tapped on Monday, 12 days later.
A Washington Times review of the days between a Supreme Court justice’s retirement and a new nomination found that while that was on the lower end, it is not the quickest.
Justice Clarence Thomas was nominated to the high court on July 1, 1991 — just five days after Justice Thurgood Marshall announced his resignation on June 27.
And Justice Neil M. Gorsuch, Mr. Trump’s first pick to the high court, was announced Feb. 1, or 12 days after Mr. Trump was inaugurated.
Both Justice Gorsuch and Judge Kavanaugh were also on a public list of possible Supreme Court justices Mr. Trump has worked from to make his selection. The list was drawn up during the 2016 campaign, and expanded — with Judge Kavanaugh and other names added — late last year.
Ms. Feinstein said it’s “unusual at the very least” for the deputy attorney general to instruct roughly 100 full-time lawyers to review more than a million pages of documents linked to Judge Kavanaugh’s time working in the George W. Bush administration. Prior to becoming a judge, he worked as a White House staff secretary.
“This is going to be my 10th Supreme Court hearing and I have never seen this amount of documentation that will need to be available for review,” she said.