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Brett Kavanaugh, 39, a former associate White House counsel and former partner at Kirkland & Ellis, faced sharp questioning on April 27 from Democrats during his confirmation hearing for a seat on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit.

The issues ranged from his involvement in writing the Kenneth Starr report on the impeachment of President Bill Clinton to his role in helping President George W. Bush select his judicial nominees.

Sen. Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.) asked Kavanaugh, who was a member of Starr’s legal team, “Would you have voted yes or no on the conviction of Bill Clinton [after his impeachment]?”

Kavanaugh replied, “Our role was merely to submit evidence for impeachment. It wasn’t our place to say what the House should do with it. It’s not appropriate for me to say now whether the House or the Senate got it right.”

Schumer appeared visibly frustrated with Kavanaugh’s answer.

In response to a question by Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.), Kavanaugh said he could not name any Bush judges who support abortion rights because the subject never came up when he was vetting nominees for the White House.

“I don’t know whether a nominee is pro-choice,” he said. “We don’t ask for their viewpoints on any particular issue.”

Kavanaugh noted that “most of the [Bush] nominees have been Republicans, just as most of President Clinton’s nominees were Democrats.”

Sen. Richard Durbin (D-Ill.) focused on what he saw as Kavanaugh’s thin résumé.

“Did it ever cross your mind when you first heard about your possible nomination that you weren’t ready for it, that you had limited experience?” Durbin asked.

“When it was first mentioned to me, I was humbled,” replied Kavanaugh, who is currently White House staff secretary. “But I was also ready to hit the ground running, based on my experience working in both the private and the public sectors.”

Durbin shot back, “If you hit the ground running, would you be only running to your right?”

Kavanaugh replied, “My background hasn’t been in party politics. My clients are not Republican or Democratic clients, just clients.”

Elliot Mincberg, legal director of People for the American Way, says Kavanaugh’s answers “could not have been better calculated to have Democratic senators oppose his nomination.”

But Sean Rushton, executive director of the Committee for Justice, says the nominee “did well to keep his cool under extremely abusive questioning.”

Since many Democrats see Kavanaugh as a principal architect of the Bush strategy on judicial nominations and since this is an election year, his confirmation prospects are considered to be dim.

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