During his personal statement in confirmation hearings before the Senate Judiciary Committee, Brett Kavanaugh said:

This whole two-week effort has been a calculated and orchestrated political hit, fueled with apparent pent-up anger about President Trump and the 2016 election. Fear that has been unfairly stoked about my judicial record. Revenge on behalf of the Clintons. and millions of dollars in money from outside left-wing opposition groups.


What in the world could he be talking about that would make people want revenge on him on behalf of the Clintons?

  • 5
    I'm going to try to find the specific references/links before I offer the answer, but I read that he rejected the help of two advisors in offering a "softer" opening statement, and that his language and tone were both crafted specifically for pleasing Trump, to insure his continued support. So, the degree of paranoid silliness might be more a measure of him offering that for Trump's approval, and pushing those buttons, intentionally. Commented Sep 28, 2018 at 16:07
  • 3
    Why would the opposition be "revenge on behalf of the Clintons", and not "considerable disagreement with your judicial views"? Would ANYONE who supports overthrowing Roe v. Wade, for instance, get the support of many Democrats? Or FTM at least some Republicans, since it is a fairly important issue to a lot of swing voters? pewforum.org/religious-landscape-study/compare/…
    – jamesqf
    Commented Sep 28, 2018 at 17:18

6 Answers 6


In 2012 when Mitt Romney was campaigning for president, CNN reported on the possibilities for US Supreme Court Justices that may come along with Romney. The Second of nine names was Kavanaugh. (The sixth in their little list was Neil Gorsuch). This is what CNN reported at the time:

Judge Brett Kavanaugh, U.S. Court of Appeals, D.C. Circuit

Born 1965. Began his job May 2006 in a court that has seen several of its former members make the jump to the Supreme Court. A former top official in the George W. Bush White House. His nomination to a federal appeals court for the D.C. circuit was held up for three years by Democrats. Senators Patrick Leahy and Richard Durbin later accused Kavanaugh of misleading the Judiciary Committee during his confirmation over whether he helped formulate policy on the detention and questioning of accused terrorists held overseas by the U.S. military. He is relatively young and considered one of the brightest conservative legal minds. He co-authored the Starr Report investigation of President Bill Clinton and clerked for Justice Anthony Kennedy and conservative appeals court Judge Alex Kozinski.

https://www.cnn.com/2012/09/30/politics/court-romney-list/index.html, bolding by Elliot

  • 1
    There is a (1-hour I think) interview with Kozinski by reason.tv. It's quite a compelling listen. Calling him "conservative" is a stretch. I know it's not your view. But CNN doesn't do him justice. He is more of a libertarian.
    – grovkin
    Commented Sep 30, 2018 at 8:01

Two reasons.

One, Kavanaugh and Bill Clinton have a somewhat...tumultuous past.

Two, he believes that Democrats are still upset over Hillary Clinton's loss to Trump and are getting revenge.

  • @Carduus, "still upset over Clinton's loss" was not the removed claim, was it? Commented Sep 28, 2018 at 17:51
  • @elliotsvensson You can see the contents of the edit by clicking the "edited [X timeframe] ago" link. No, it was not.
    – user21748
    Commented Sep 28, 2018 at 18:09
  • 1
    For readers who'd like more info before clicking such news links, Kavanaugh recommended several sexually explicit questions for Clinton's grand jury hearing. “The president has disgraced his office, the legal system, and the American people by having sex with a 22-year-old intern and turning her life into a shambles – callous and disgusting behavior that has somehow gotten lost in the shuffle,” Kavanaugh wrote. He was “strongly opposed to giving the president any ‘break’ in the questioning”
    – Jerry101
    Commented Sep 30, 2018 at 19:16
  • 2
    This is likely the most correct answer, at least number two. I doubt that it is mainly about number one, given its quite personal nature and because many people won't know about that, especially younger ones. Number two applies to people in a large scale, given the left vs right escalation. Kavanaugh became a symbol of a typical republican, while his accuser became a symbol of a female victim "standing up against the powers that be." It's no longer about actual facts, or if Kavanaugh actually did something to her (he didn't). It devolved into a proxy fight derived from the ideological battle.
    – Battle
    Commented Oct 1, 2018 at 9:01
  • This is close to being a link-only answer. Commented Oct 19, 2018 at 16:03

For right-leaning and conservative public figures in support of Donald Trump, this has risen to the level of a rallying cry.

I would argue that it probably started not long after the election, but is probably most easily observed in this interview with Sean Hannity last October, emphasis mine:

...[H]ere is the story, this was an excuse by the Democrats and people got carried away. This was a terrible and it's very bad for our country -- during this campaign, forget it. Forget it. This was an excuse that was used by the Democrats.

An excuse for losing an election that frankly they should have won, because winning the Electoral College is so easy for Democrats. They start off with three major states. To win the electoral college for a Democrat, it's almost like a given. That is why people said you cannot get to 270.

(That site has a lot more. I can't link to it all but I highly encourage the curious to peruse it.)

It isn't much of a stretch to presume that this statement was made as a way to appeal to either Trump directly, or to Trump's most staunch Senate supporters. Kavanaugh himself made this process seem directed at him in an overly aggressive political fashion, and made it appear as if he were the one under assault by Democrats and (by extension) Clinton supporters, emphasis mine (and dovetailing into the earlier referenced quote).

This whole two-week effort has been a calculated and orchestrated political hit, fueled with apparent pent-up anger about President Trump and the 2016 election, fear that has been unfairly stoked about my judicial record, revenge on behalf of the Clintons and millions of dollars in money from outside left-wing opposition groups.

From this, I surmise that this is a rallying cry; one which very neatly stokes the emotion-charged events of the 2016 election, and one which galvanizes sides very quickly.

  • 7
    Actually, winning the electoral college is not "so easy for the Democrats". Their votes tend to be concentrated in the cities while Republican votes are spread out over the countryside, so the Democrats get a few seats by a big margin and lose a lot of others by a small margin. Don't forget that Trump lost the popular vote. economist.com/leaders/2018/07/12/… Commented Sep 29, 2018 at 7:24
  • 2
    @PaulJohnson: You and several others are reacting to a direct quote from Donald Trump. Just wanted to point that out.
    – Makoto
    Commented Sep 29, 2018 at 18:06

In 1999, Brett Kavenaugh coauthored an op-ed in the Washington Post in which he praised Kenneth Starr (the independent counsel investigating then president Clinton) and slammed Clinton. A small excerpt from that op-ed (I suggest reading the entire op-ed to get an idea of its tone):

Cohen argues that Starr "trapped" the president. Not so. The president "trapped" himself. Clinton knew long before his civil deposition (because Wright repeatedly so ruled) that his other sexual encounters with subordinate employees were relevant to Paula Jones's sexual harassment case. Yet the president decided to roll the dice and lie under oath and obstruct justice


In addition to all of the previously-mentioned references to past events, relationships, etc...

By simply evoking the Clinton name, as part of his own defense - Kavanaugh is cleverly tapping into the Republican base’s seemingly unending disdain for the former first family.

Not only does this (unsubstantiated and childish claim that this is some kind of grand revenge) feed into the shady, child-prostitution-ring-type smears against the Clinton’s behind-the-scenes puppetmastery - but it is the perfectly unprovable excuse for this entire chain of events to have surfaced, now.

As has been proven by Trump’s repetitive and totally belligerent insistence that his “problems” are merely media fabrications.. it would seem that all it takes are left field assertions, said aloud, impetuously - to convince a shockingly significant portion of the populace.

This is not the era of “owning it”. Why admit anything.. when you can get away with deny, deny, deny and/or blame crooked Hillary?


Kavanaugh helped Kenneth Starr write the Starr Report which urged Clinton's impeachment in the Monica Lewinsky affair. Trump's rhetoric is mainly based around naming and shaming (e.g. "Crooked Hiliary"). The rhetoric also reasonates with people that accuse Hiliary of Pizzagate and other conspiracy theories. If Kavanaugh or Trump can make a claim that people want "revenge" that is politically motivated because he collaborated with an investigator against President Clinton & because Hiliary Clinton lost the Presidential election their audience will accept it and focus a little less on the fact that people may be accusing his nominee of assault. If people want a view the media will usually try to support that view. This means that politicians have less of a need to thoroughly investigate the accusations and can confirm him (after the usual process since the allegations appear to be something that appears to be politically motivated given the timing/because the US audience isn't concentrating so much on it).

  • By that logic, there couldn't be any opposition. If that were the case, isn't it really Trump's fault for nominating a person the senate couldn't oppose if needed? By that premise, he would prevent the senate from carrying out its constitutional task.
    – JJJ
    Commented Oct 19, 2018 at 11:43
  • What I'm trying to say is that Kavanaugh/Trump might say opposition was politically motivated and try to garner sympathy from that. I never said that the Senate was unable to go and review nominations that were submitted to it by a sitting president
    – anon
    Commented Oct 19, 2018 at 12:17
  • You do say that any 'strong allegations' (just 'opposition' before your edit) will seem politically motivated, right? If that is the case, isn't it incumbent upon the one nominating the candidate (i.e. the president) to choose someone without such a history. In particular, you cannot choose a highly partisan candidate and then make an unsubstantiated claim (e.g. shouting 'crooked Hilary' during the hearing) that opposition is 'politically motivated'. By making that statement, the nominee made it political.
    – JJJ
    Commented Oct 19, 2018 at 12:22
  • The president is free to choose whoever he wants (but ideally for him it would be a person with a relatively clean slate). If someone makes a strong allegation and the timing seems a bit odd (from the POV of the candidate or President) then the president/candidate can state it is politically motivated or make it policitally motivated as you indicated above (especially if the accuser's party affiliation is that of the opposition or they have reason to believe that the accusation was purchased for money) due to the unusual timing/specific circumstances.
    – anon
    Commented Oct 19, 2018 at 12:27
  • What does it matter what party affiliation the accusers have? Are claims only credible if they come from the party in power? And if you go down the 'accusation purchased for money' path, it becomes even more conspiratorial. Indeed, if you are going to pay people to make false accusations, why not buy someone from the party in power? By you reasoning that makes it look like it's not politically motivated.
    – JJJ
    Commented Oct 19, 2018 at 12:37

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