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For The Record  

FTR #1017 Supreme Court Trump Card: Family Trump, Family [Anthony] Kennedy and Peter Thiel

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This broadcast was recorded in one, 60-minute segment.

Carl Schmitt, a chief influence on Peter Thiel’s legal thinking, on the right.

Introduction: Much has been said about Donald Trump’s nomination of Judge Brett Kavanaugh to become a Supreme Court justice, replacing Anthony Kennnedy.

In this program, we highlight extensive networking between the Trump and Kennedy families and, in turn, some apparent “deep networking” between some of the individuals in the Trump/Kennedy nexus and institutions linked to key elements of the remarkable and deadly Bormann flight capital network.

Deutsche Bank and the shadow of the I.G. Farben chemical complex figure into the latter part of this equation.

The connections between the family of Anthony Kennedy and the Trump milieu run deep. Anthony Kennedy’s son Justin was  Trump’s  banker at Deutsche Bank. In FTR #919, we analyzed a New York Times article highlighting Donald Trump’s altogether opaque real estate developments and evidence that those projects had significant links to elements of the Bormann capital network.

In that program we set forth the primary role of Deutsche Bank in financing Trump’s real estate projects.

” . . . While many big banks have shunned him, Deutsche Bank AG has been a steadfast financial backer of the Republican presidential candidate’s business interests. Since 1998, the bank has led or participated in loans of at least $2.5 billion to companies affiliated with Mr. Trump, according to a Wall Street Journal analysis of public records and people familiar with the matter. That doesn’t include at least another $1 billion in loan commitments that Deutsche Bank made to Trump-affiliated entities. The long-standing connection makes Frankfurt-based Deutsche Bank, which has a large U.S. operation and has been grappling with reputational problems and an almost 50% stock-price decline, the financial institution with probably the strongest ties to the controversial New York businessman. . . .”

The fact that Deutsche Bank is the primary financial backer of “Trump Incorporated” is of primary importance. The bank is central to the Bormann capital network.

The connections between the family of Anthony Kennedy and the Trump milieu run deep. Anthony Kennedy’s son Justin was  Trump’s  banker at Deutsche Bank.

Furthermore, jurists who clerked for Anthony Kennedy figure prominently in Trump’s judicial appointments:

  1. ” . . . . He [Trump] picked Justice Neil M. Gorsuch, who had served as a law clerk to Justice Kennedy, to fill Justice Scalia’s seat. . . .”
  2. ” . . . . Then, after Justice Gorsuch’s nomination was announced, a White House official singled out two candidates for the next Supreme Court vacancy: Judge Brett M. Kavanaugh of the United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit and Judge Raymond M. Kethledge of the United States Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit, in Cincinnati. The two judges had something in common: They had both clerked for Justice Kennedy. . . .”
  3. ” . . . . In the meantime, as the White House turned to stocking the lower courts, it did not overlook Justice Kennedy’s clerks. Mr. Trump nominated three of them to federal appeals courts: Judges Stephanos Bibas and Michael Scudder, both of whom have been confirmed, and Eric Murphy, the Ohio solicitor general, whom Mr. Trump nominated to the Sixth Circuit this month. . . .”
  4. ” . . . . Justice Kennedy’s son, Justin . . . . spent more than a decade at Deutsche Bank, eventually rising to become the bank’s global head of real estate capital markets, and he worked closely with Mr. Trump when he was a real estate developer, according to two people with knowledge of his role. During Mr. Kennedy’s tenure, Deutsche Bank became Mr. Trump’s most important lender, dispensing well over $1 billion in loans to him for the renovation and construction of skyscrapers in New York and Chicago at a time other mainstream banks were wary of doing business with him because of his troubled business history. . . .”

After Kennedy left Deutsche Bank in 2009 he went on to become co-CEO LNR Property LLC. LNR Property saved Jared Kushner’s midtown Manhattan property in 2011:

  1. ” . . . . from 2010–2013 Justin Kennedy was the co-CEO of LNR Property LLC with Tobin Cobb. . . .”
  2. ” . . . . According the New York Times, in 2007 Kushner Companies purchased ‘an aluminum-clad office tower in Midtown Manhattan, for a record price of $1.8 billion.’ At the time the NYT wrote that this deal was ‘considered a classic example of reckless underwriting. The transaction was so highly leveraged that the cash flow from rents amounted to only 65 percent of the debt service.’ . . .”
  3.  ” . . . Who came to the rescue? None other than LNR Property, the company whose CEO at the time was Justin Kennedy. According to the NYT and the Real Deal, Mr. Kushner and LNR ‘reached a possible agreement with LNR Property, a firm specializing in restructuring troubled debt and which oversees the mortgage, that would allow him to retain control of the tower by modifying the terms of the $1.2 billion mortgage tied to the office portion of the building.’ . . .”

Peter Thiel

The links between TrumpWorld and Anthony Kennedy’s sons is deeper still. Kennedy’s other son Gregory, has long-standing ties to Trump Silicon Valley adviser Peter Thiel, whom we first analyzed in FTR #718.

” . . . . . . . . Kennedy’s seat, meantime, seemed destined to go to Kavanaugh, thanks in part to the glowing review of Kennedy, whose son, Justin, knows Donald Trump Jr. through New York real estate circles, and whose other adult child has connections to Trump World via the president’s 2016 Silicon Valley adviser Peter Thiel, most recently when the Kennedy firm Disruptive Technology Advisers worked with Thiel’s Palantir Technologies. . . .”

Gregory Kennedy’s DTA has an unusually close relationship with Palantir, a company that has helped the Trump administration.

Kennedy’s DTA has other personal connections to Palantir. Alex Fishman and Alex Davis, two other DTA founders, “enjoyed a very close relationship” with Palantir co-founder Alex Karp, according to the lawsuit.

It should be noted that the alleged secrecy with which Palantir treats its operating and investing information is characteristic of Bormann organizations. A closeted, insiders-only operating ethic serves the need for this consummately powerful organization to maintain a relatively low profile, even as it gains power, influence and wealth.

” . . . . Yet Palantir — whose stock changes hands only through private trades — goes to great lengths to keep any detailed information about its business private. . . .”

A lawsuit by Palantir investor KT4 Partners alleges that Palantir is illegally blocking investors from selling shares in the company and that Kennedy’s Disruptive Technology Advisors (DTA) is a key partner and beneficiary of this strategy.

KT4 claims that when it tried to sell its shares of Palantir to a third-party, Palantir would have DTA contact the third-party and convince them to have Palantir sells them the shares directly instead. DTA would then collect a commission.

The central dynamic in the allegations of plaintiff (and Palantir investor) KT4 is set forth as follows: ” . . . . But remarkably, KT4 claims that when Palantir receives information from an investor about a planned sale, it uses that information to contact the buyer and persuade them instead to buy shares directly from the company or from certain Palantir insiders. One particular broker, Disruptive Technology Advisers, or DTA, repeatedly gets commissions from these sales, even when it ‘performed no legitimate work,’ KT4 claims. KT4 says it experienced interference by Palantir when it tried to sell shares to Highbridge Capital Management, a hedge fund that was owned by JPMorgan Chase, in May 2015. After KT4 notified Palantir of the planned sale, Palantir turned around and instructed DTA to ‘take the opportunity, on Palantir’s behalf,’and arrange a sale from Palantir to Highbridge instead, according to the lawsuit. . . .”

In FTR #946, we examined Cambridge Analytica, its Trump and Steve Bannon-linked tech firm that harvested Facebook data on behalf of the Trump campaign.

Peter Thiel’s Palantir was apparently deeply involved with Cambridge Analytica’s gaming of personal data harvested from Facebook in order to engineer an electoral victory for Trump, setting the GOP campaign to control the Supreme Court in a deeper, broader context.

Thiel was an early investor in Facebook, at one point was its largest shareholder and is still one of its largest shareholders. ” . . . . It was a Palantir employee in London, working closely with the data scientists building Cambridge’s psychological profiling technology, who suggested the scientists create their own app — a mobile-phone-based personality quiz — to gain access to Facebook users’ friend networks, according to documents obtained by The New York Times. The revelations pulled Palantir — co-founded by the wealthy libertarian Peter Thiel — into the furor surrounding Cambridge, which improperly obtained Facebook data to build analytical tools it deployed on behalf of Donald J. Trump and other Republican candidates in 2016. Mr. Thiel, a supporter of President Trump, serves on the board at Facebook. ‘There were senior Palantir employees that were also working on the Facebook data,’ said Christopher Wylie, a data expert and Cambridge Analytica co-founder, in testimony before British lawmakers on Tuesday. . . . The connections between Palantir and Cambridge Analytica were thrust into the spotlight by Mr. Wylie’s testimony on Tuesday. Both companies are linked to tech-driven billionaires who backed Mr. Trump’s campaign: Cambridge is chiefly owned by Robert Mercer, the computer scientist and hedge fund magnate, while Palantir was co-founded in 2003 by Mr. Thiel, who was an initial investor in Facebook. . . .”

Program Highlights Include:

  1. Review of Peter Thiel’s high regard for Carl Schmitt: “. . . . a Nazi and the Third Reich’s preeminent legal theorist. For Thiel, Schmitt is an inspiring throwback to a pre-Enlightenment age, who exalts struggle and insists that the discovery of enemies is the foundation of politics. . .” 
  2. Review of Peter Thiel’s early legal experience with Sullivan & Cromwell, the Dulles law firm.
  3. A recounting of the role of John Foster Dulles and Sullivan & Cromwell’s roles in the formation of I.G. Farben.
  4. Review of Thiel’s German heritage and his father’s probable role with one of the I.G. successor companies.

1a. The connections between the family of Anthony Kennedy and the Trump milieu run deep. Anthony Kennedy’s son Justin was  Trump’s  banker at Deutsche Bank. In FTR #919, we analyzed a New York Times article highlighting Donald Trump’s altogether opaque real estate developments and evidence that those projects had significant links to elements of the Bormann capital network.

In that program we set forth the primary role of Deutsche Bank in financing Trump’s real estate projects.

” . . . While many big banks have shunned him, Deutsche Bank AG has been a steadfast financial backer of the Republican presidential candidate’s business interests. Since 1998, the bank has led or participated in loans of at least $2.5 billion to companies affiliated with Mr. Trump, according to a Wall Street Journal analysis of public records and people familiar with the matter. That doesn’t include at least another $1 billion in loan commitments that Deutsche Bank made to Trump-affiliated entities. The long-standing connection makes Frankfurt-based Deutsche Bank, which has a large U.S. operation and has been grappling with reputational problems and an almost 50% stock-price decline, the financial institution with probably the strongest ties to the controversial New York businessman. . . .”

The fact that Deutsche Bank is the primary financial backer of “Trump Incorporated” is of primary importance. The bank is central to the Bormann capital network.

Martin Bormann: Nazi in Exile; Paul Manning; Copyright 1981 [HC]; Lyle Stuart Inc.; ISBN 0-8184-0309-8; p. 139.

“. . . . When Bormann gave the order for his representatives to resume purchases of American corporate stocks, it was usually done through the neutral countries of Switzerland and Argentina. From foreign exchange funds on deposit in Swiss banks and in Deutsche Sudamerikanishe Bank, the Buenos Aires branch of Deutsche Bank, large demand deposits were placed in the principal money-center banks of New York City; National City (now Citibank), Chase (now Chase Manhattan N.A.), Manufacturers and Hanover (now manufacturers Hanover Trust), Morgan Guaranty, and Irving Trust. Such deposits are interest-free and the banks can invest this money as they wish, thus turning tidy profits for themselves. In return, they provide reasonable services such as the purchase of stocks and transfer or payment of money on demand by customers of Deutsche bank such as representatives of the Bormann business organizations and and Martin Bormann himself, who has demand accounts in three New York City banks. They continue to do so. The German investment in American corporations from these sources exceeded $5 billion and made the Bormann economic structure a web of power and influence. The two German-owned banks of Spain, Banco Aleman Transatlantico (now named Banco Comercial Transatlantico), and Banco Germanico de la America del Sur, S.A., a subsidiary of Deutsche Bank served to channel German money from Spain to South America, where further investments were made. . . .”

1b. Bormann’s FBI file revealed that he had been banking under his own name in New York for some time.

Martin Bormann: Nazi in Exile; Paul Manning; Copyright 1981 [HC]; Lyle Stuart Inc.; ISBN 0-8184-0309-8; p. 205.

. . . . The file revealed that he had been banking under his own name from his office in Germany in Deutsche Bank of Buenos Aires since 1941; that he held one joint account with the Argentinian dictator Juan Peron, and on August 4, 5 and 14, 1967, had written checks on demand accounts in first National City Bank (Overseas Division) of New York, The Chase Manhattan Bank, and Manufacturers Hanover Trust Co., all cleared through Deutsche Bank of Buenos Aires. . . . 

1c. The connections between the family of Anthony Kennedy and the Trump milieu run deep. Anthony Kennedy’s son Justin was  Trump’s  banker at Deutsche Bank.

Furthermore, jurists who clerked for Anthony Kennedy figure prominently in Trump’s judicial appointments:

  1. ” . . . . He [Trump] picked Justice Neil M. Gorsuch, who had served as a law clerk to Justice Kennedy, to fill Justice Scalia’s seat. . . .”
  2. ” . . . . Then, after Justice Gorsuch’s nomination was announced, a White House official singled out two candidates for the next Supreme Court vacancy: Judge Brett M. Kavanaugh of the United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit and Judge Raymond M. Kethledge of the United States Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit, in Cincinnati. The two judges had something in common: They had both clerked for Justice Kennedy. . . .”
  3. ” . . . . In the meantime, as the White House turned to stocking the lower courts, it did not overlook Justice Kennedy’s clerks. Mr. Trump nominated three of them to federal appeals courts: Judges Stephanos Bibas and Michael Scudder, both of whom have been confirmed, and Eric Murphy, the Ohio solicitor general, whom Mr. Trump nominated to the Sixth Circuit this month. . . .”
  4. ” . . . . Justice Kennedy’s son, Justin . . . . spent more than a decade at Deutsche Bank, eventually rising to become the bank’s global head of real estate capital markets, and he worked closely with Mr. Trump when he was a real estate developer, according to two people with knowledge of his role. During Mr. Kennedy’s tenure, Deutsche Bank became Mr. Trump’s most important lender, dispensing well over $1 billion in loans to him for the renovation and construction of skyscrapers in New York and Chicago at a time other mainstream banks were wary of doing business with him because of his troubled business history. . . .”

“Inside the White House’s Quiet Campaign to Create a Supreme Court Opening” by Adam Liptak and Maggie Haberman; The New York Times; 06/28/2018.

 President Trump singled him out for praise even while attacking other members of the Supreme Court. The White House nominated people close to him to important judicial posts. And members of the Trump family forged personal connections.

Their goal was to assure Justice Anthony M. Kennedy that his judicial legacy would be in good hands should he step down at the end of the court’s term that ended this week, as he was rumored to be considering. Allies of the White House were more blunt, warning the 81-year-old justice that time was of the essence. There was no telling, they said, what would happen if Democrats gained control of the Senate after the November elections and had the power to block the president’s choice as his successor. . . .

. . . .When Mr. Trump took office last year, he already had a Supreme Court vacancy to fill, the one created by the 2016 death of Justice Antonin Scalia. But Mr. Trump dearly wanted a second vacancy, one that could transform the court for a generation or more. So he used the first opening to help create the second one. He picked Justice Neil M. Gorsuch, who had served as a law clerk to Justice Kennedy, to fill Justice Scalia’s seat. . . .

. . . .Then, after Justice Gorsuch’s nomination was announced, a White House official singled out two candidates for the next Supreme Court vacancy: Judge Brett M. Kavanaugh of the United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit and Judge Raymond M. Kethledge of the United States Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit, in Cincinnati.

The two judges had something in common: They had both clerked for Justice Kennedy.

In the meantime, as the White House turned to stocking the lower courts, it did not overlook Justice Kennedy’s clerks. Mr. Trump nominated three of them to federal appeals courts: Judges Stephanos Bibas and Michael Scudder, both of whom have been confirmed, and Eric Murphy, the Ohio solicitor general, whom Mr. Trump nominated to the Sixth Circuit this month. . . .

. . . . Mr. Trump was apparently referring to Justice Kennedy’s son, Justin. The younger Mr. Kennedy spent more than a decade at Deutsche Bank, eventually rising to become the bank’s global head of real estate capital markets, and he worked closely with Mr. Trump when he was a real estate developer, according to two people with knowledge of his role.

During Mr. Kennedy’s tenure, Deutsche Bank became Mr. Trump’s most important lender, dispensing well over $1 billion in loans to him for the renovation and construction of skyscrapers in New York and Chicago at a time other mainstream banks were wary of doing business with him because of his troubled business history. . . .

1d.  After Kennedy left Deutsche Bank in 2009 he went on to become co-CEO LNR Property LLC. LNR Property saved Jared Kushner’s midtown Manhattan property in 2011:

  1. ” . . . . from 2010–2013 Justin Kennedy was the co-CEO of LNR Property LLC with Tobin Cobb. . . .”
  2. ” . . . . According the New York Times, in 2007 Kushner Companies purchased ‘an aluminum-clad office tower in Midtown Manhattan, for a record price of $1.8 billion.’ At the time the NYT wrote that this deal was ‘considered a classic example of reckless underwriting. The transaction was so highly leveraged that the cash flow from rents amounted to only 65 percent of the debt service.’ . . .”
  3.  ” . . . Who came to the rescue? None other than LNR Property, the company whose CEO at the time was Justin Kennedy. According to the NYT and the Real Deal, Mr. Kushner and LNR ‘reached a possible agreement with LNR Property, a firm specializing in restructuring troubled debt and which oversees the mortgage, that would allow him to retain control of the tower by modifying the terms of the $1.2 billion mortgage tied to the office portion of the building.’ . . .”

“The Kennedy, Kushner, and Trump Connection: A Curious Conversation and A Business Deal” by C’Zar Bernstein & Gabe Rusk; Medium; 03/01/2017.

. . . . Justice Kennedy has two very successful sons in their own right, Gregory and Justin Kennedy. Gregory Kennedy, a Stanford Law graduate (a Stanford man like his father), was named CEO of Disruptive Technology Advisers in October of 2016. According to his LinkedIn page: Disruptive Technology Advisors is a “Los Angeles based merchant bank with an exclusive focus on mid to late stage growth companies.” . . . .

Justin Kennedy, a graduate of UCLA and Stanford(again like his father), has spent his career in the world of banking, investment, and, interestingly, real estate. In particular, from 2010–2013 Justin Kennedy was the co-CEO of LNR Property LLC with Tobin Cobb. In the world of high-stakes NYC real estate it would be fairly improbable that the Trump or Kushner groups, monoliths in their own right, would not have mingled or done business with the LNR at some point in time. We were not surprised, therefore, to discover that there is a likely connection. Here’s what we know:

According the New York Times, in 2007 Kushner Companies purchased “an aluminum-clad office tower in Midtown Manhattan, for a record price of $1.8 billion.” At the time the NYT wrote that this deal was “considered a classic example of reckless underwriting. The transaction was so highly leveraged that the cash flow from rents amounted to only 65 percent of the debt service.” The Times continues:

“As many real estate specialists predicted, the deal ran into trouble. Instead of rising, rents declined as the recession took hold, and new leases were scarce. In 2010, the loan was transferred to a special servicer on the assumption that a default would occur once reserve funds being used to subsidize the shortfall were bled dry. But the story may yet have a happy ending for Kushner, a family-owned business that moved its headquarters from Florham Park, N.J., to 666 Fifth, its first major acquisition in Manhattan.”

Who came to the rescue? None other than LNR Property, the company whose CEO at the time was Justin Kennedy. According to the NYT and the Real Deal, Mr. Kushner and LNR “reached a possible agreement with LNR Property, a firm specializing in restructuring troubled debt and which oversees the mortgage, that would allow him to retain control of the tower by modifying the terms of the $1.2 billion mortgage tied to the office portion of the building.” A spokesman for Mr. Kushner told the Wall Street Journal in March of 2011 that “[t]he Kushner’s are ready and willing to invest more money into the property as soon as they can come to mutually satisfactory terms with the servicing agent.” In that same article Kushner’s father-in-law and the future President commented on the negotiations with Justin Kennedy’s company. Speaking about the deal, Trump told the WSJ that Kushner is “a very smart young man…I think it (loan renegotiations) will come out well for him and everybody.” At this point there is no doubt that there was a direct business relationship between LNR and Kushner Companies at the time Justin Kennedy and Jared Kushner were both CEO. Even the future President was aware of the deal and commented on its respective merits. (That being said, it is not impossible that Jared Kushner and Justin Kennedy did not meet in connection with the specific deal in question; however, given the stakes involved it does seem more than likely that the two CEO’s would have interacted as negotiations were being conducted.)

The connections between Kushner, Kennedy, and Trump do not end there. Coincidentally, in 2011, the year in which some of these negotiations took place, Justin Kennedy for the first time was ranked on the New York Observer’s 100 Most Powerful People in New York Real Estate at #36. Donald Trump clocked in at #12. The New York Observer was owned at the time by none other than Jared Kushner himself. . . .

1e. Following the nomination by President Trump of Brett Kavanaugh to replace Justice Anthony Kennedy on the Supreme Court, we get confirmation that Trump got Kennedy to resign by agreeing to replace him with Kennedy’s former clerk Kavanaugh:

“It Was Always Kavanaugh: After Meeting With Kennedy, Trump Was Set On His Pick” by Nicole Lafond; Talking Points Memo; 07/10/2018

While the White House was successful for the most part in keeping President Donald Trump’s SCOTUS pick under wraps for the past two weeks, Trump was essentially decided on his nominee after Justice Anthony Kennedy told him he would retire in a meeting, Politico reported.

According to aides close to the White House who spoke to Politico, in that meeting Kennedy recommended Trump pick Brett Kavanaugh, who had served as a former law clerk to Kennedy. While Trump was reportedly already interested in Kavanaugh before that discussion with Kennedy, the retiring jurist’s recommendation helped seal the deal. . . .

2. The links between TrumpWorld and Anthony Kennedy’s sons is deeper still. Kennedy’s other son Gregory, has long-standing ties to Trump Silicon Valley adviser Peter Thiel, whom we first analyzed in FTR #718.

” . . . . . . . . Kennedy’s seat, meantime, seemed destined to go to Kavanaugh, thanks in part to the glowing review of Kennedy, whose son, Justin, knows Donald Trump Jr. through New York real estate circles, and whose other adult child has connections to Trump World via the president’s 2016 Silicon Valley adviser Peter Thiel, most recently when the Kennedy firm Disruptive Technology Advisers worked with Thiel’s Palantir Technologies. . . .”

“How a Private Meeting with Kennedy Helped Trump Get to ‘Yes’ on Kavanaugh” by Christopher Cadelago, Nancy Cook and Andrew Restuccia; Politico; 07/09/2018.

After Justice Anthony Kennedy told President Donald Trump he would relinquish his seat on the Supreme Court, the president emerged from his private meeting with the retiring jurist focused on one candidate to name as his successor: Judge Brett Kavanaugh, Kennedy’s former law clerk.

Trump, according to confidants and aides close to the White House, has become increasingly convinced that “the judges,” as he puts it, or his administration’s remaking of the federal judiciary in its conservative image, is central to his legacy as president. And he credits Kennedy, who spent more than a decade at the center of power on the court, for helping give him the opportunity.

So even as Trump dispatched his top lawyers to comb though Kavanaugh’s rulings and quizzed allies about whether he was too close to the Bush family, potentially a fatal flaw, the president was always leaning toward accepting Kennedy’s partiality for Kavanaugh while preserving the secret until his formal announcement, sources with knowledge of his thinking told POLITICO. . . .

. . . . Kennedy’s seat, meantime, seemed destined to go to Kavanaugh, thanks in part to the glowing review of Kennedy, whose son, Justin, knows Donald Trump Jr. through New York real estate circles, and whose other adult child has connections to Trump World via the president’s 2016 Silicon Valley adviser Peter Thiel, most recently when the Kennedy firm Disruptive Technology Advisers worked with Thiel’s Palantir Technologies. . . .

3.  As the following article from last year about the Trump/Kennedy family ties notes, Gregory Kennedy and Peter Thiel are more than just business associates. They went to Stanford Law School together and served as president of the Federalist Society in back-to-back years.

“Trump’s Hidden Back Channel to Justice Kennedy: Their Kids” by Shane Goldmacher; Politico; 04/06/2017

. . . . Another is through Kennedy’s other son, Gregory, and Trump’s Silicon Valley adviser Peter Thiel. They went to Stanford Law School together and served as president of the Federalist Society in back-to-back years, according to school records. More recently, Kennedy’s firm, Disruptive Technology Advisers, has worked with Thiel’s company Palantir Technologies.

In fact, during the early months of the Trump administration, Gregory Kennedy has worked at NASA as a senior financial adviser as part of the so-called “beachhead” team. . .

Alex Karp

4. Gregory Kennedy’s DTA has an unusually close relationship with Palantir, a company that has helped the Trump administration.

Kennedy’s DTA has other personal connections to Palantir. Alex Fishman and Alex Davis, two other DTA founders, “enjoyed a very close relationship” with Palantir co-founder Alex Karp, according to the lawsuit.

It should be noted that the alleged secrecy with which Palantir treats its operating and investing information is characteristic of Bormann organizations. A closeted, insiders-only operating ethic serves the need for this consummately powerful organization to maintain a relatively low profile, even as it gains power, influence and wealth.

” . . . . Yet Palantir — whose stock changes hands only through private trades — goes to great lengths to keep any detailed information about its business private. . . .”

A lawsuit by Palantir investor KT4 Partners alleges that Palantir is illegally blocking investors from selling shares in the company and that Kennedy’s Disruptive Technology Advisors (DTA) is a key partner and beneficiary of this strategy.

KT4 claims that when it tried to sell its shares of Palantir to a third-party, Palantir would have DTA contact the third-party and convince them to have Palantir sells them the shares directly instead. DTA would then collect a commission.

The central dynamic in the allegations of plaintiff (and Palantir investor) KT4 is set forth as follows: ” . . . . But remarkably, KT4 claims that when Palantir receives information from an investor about a planned sale, it uses that information to contact the buyer and persuade them instead to buy shares directly from the company or from certain Palantir insiders. One particular broker, Disruptive Technology Advisers, or DTA, repeatedly gets commissions from these sales, even when it ‘performed no legitimate work,’ KT4 claims. KT4 says it experienced interference by Palantir when it tried to sell shares to Highbridge Capital Management, a hedge fund that was owned by JPMorgan Chase, in May 2015. After KT4 notified Palantir of the planned sale, Palantir turned around and instructed DTA to ‘take the opportunity, on Palantir’s behalf,’and arrange a sale from Palantir to Highbridge instead, according to the lawsuit. . . .”

“A Silicon Valley Giant Blocked Its Investors From Selling Their Shares, Lawsuit Claims” by William Alden; BuzzFeed News; 03/17/2017

Palantir Technologies, one of the most valuable startups in Silicon Valley, has deprived investors of basic information about its business and repeatedly hindered efforts by investors to sell their shares, according to a blistering lawsuit filed by a longtime investor.

In addition to keeping at least some shareholders in the dark about its financial performance, Palantir has “engaged in a pattern and practice” of attempting to thwart their attempts to sell stock, according to the lawsuit, filed by investment firm KT4 Partners. Instead of letting these investors sell shares, Palantir has steered their sale opportunities to itself or its executives, while showering a favored brokerage firm with commissions even when the firm does no work at all, the lawsuit claims.

KT4 Partners first bought Palantir shares over a decade ago and is seeking to compel Palantir to hand over financial records, which it says are needed to understand the value of its investment. Further, KT4 claims it needs this information to investigate whether Palantir or its executives have engaged in “improper and illegal conduct” to harm minority shareholders. The lawsuit was filed under seal last week in the Delaware Court of Chancery; a partially redacted version was released on Monday and is reported here for the first time. . . .

. . . . Co-founded in 2004 by the billionaire Peter Thiel, who is now advising President Donald Trump, Palantir analyzes data for government agencies and major corporations. It has a $20 billion valuation, making it the third most highly valued startup in Silicon Valley, behind only Uber and Airbnb. Yet Palantir — whose stock changes hands only through private trades — goes to great lengths to keep any detailed information about its business private. A report by BuzzFeed News last year gave an unprecedented, though limited, account of its commercial operations.

The lawsuit, a highly unusual step for a startup investor, follows efforts by KT4 to obtain business information through other means. KT4 made a written demand last August to inspect Palantir’s books and records, the lawsuit says. But then, according to the lawsuit, Palantir retroactively amended its investors’ rights agreement “for the sole and express purpose” of avoiding disclosure obligations. . . .

. . . . Palantir is under increasing pressure from its shareholders, a number of whom have held its stock for a decade or more and are anxiously awaiting a payday. Former employees, who received a major part of their pay in stock options, have struggled to cash out, despite limited share purchase offers arranged by the company. Last fall, in a reversal of his longtime refusal to pursue an IPO, Palantir CEO Alex Karp said at a tech conference, “We’re now positioning the company so we could go public.”

This statement by Karp has a previously undisclosed backstory, according to the lawsuit: KT4 says it came after a formal request by the investor for information on whether Palantir had considered an IPO.

KT4 says its stake in Palantir is worth over $60 million — a significant sum by many measures, but small in the context of Palantir, which has raised more than $2 billion from investors. When KT4 tried to sell portions of its stake, Palantir repeatedly interfered, the lawsuit claims. Palantir, following a common practice in Silicon Valley, requires that any sellers of its stock seek the company’s approval for the transaction; companies do this to limit and manage ownership of their shares.

But remarkably, KT4 claims that when Palantir receives information from an investor about a planned sale, it uses that information to contact the buyer and persuade them instead to buy shares directly from the company or from certain Palantir insiders. One particular broker, Disruptive Technology Advisers, or DTA, repeatedly gets commissions from these sales, even when it “performed no legitimate work,” KT4 claims.

KT4 says it experienced interference by Palantir when it tried to sell shares to Highbridge Capital Management, a hedge fund that was owned by JPMorgan Chase, in May 2015. After KT4 notified Palantir of the planned sale, Palantir turned around and instructed DTA to “take the opportunity, on Palantir’s behalf,” and arrange a sale from Palantir to Highbridge instead, according to the lawsuit.

But when Alex Fishman, a founder of DTA, met with a senior managing director at Highbridge, the hedge fund executive said he would not break his deal with KT4, telling Fishman to leave his office, according to the lawsuit. The situation escalated when Karp, the Palantir CEO, learned of Highbridge’s affiliation with JPMorgan — a very important customer of Palantir’s — and that the bank’s CEO, Jamie Dimon, “would be asked to contact Karp directly to express displeasure” at these tactics, the lawsuit says. Karp then allegedly let the sale by KT4 go through.

Later, in December 2015, Palantir and DTA had more success in impeding a sale of shares by KT4 and other investors to a Chinese investment company, whose name is redacted in the document, the lawsuit says. DTA, representing Palantir, contacted the buyer and led it to believe that it was required to buy the shares directly from Palantir, ultimately leading the buyer to call off the deal with KT4 and the others.

Until KT4 made its recent demand for financial information, Palantir refused to provide financial information to buyers of its shares except through DTA — forcing buyers and sellers to do business with that firm or with Fishman, the lawsuit says.

Even when DTA was not involved in a deal, it still could get paid, according to KT4. Last summer, when UBS Securities was brokering a sale of Palantir shares, Karp demanded that UBS pay 25 cents a share to Fishman and DTA, even though DTA “had performed no work on the transaction” — and UBS agreed to make the payment, the lawsuit says. (KT4 says it learned this from a UBS managing director, but in an interview with BuzzFeed News, a person close to UBS disputed that the bank participated in such a sale and denied that UBS agreed to pay DTA.)

Fishman and Alex Davis, the other DTA founder, recently “enjoyed a very close relationship” with Karp, according to the lawsuit. (According to Fishman’s LinkedIn profile, he sold his half of DTA to Davis last week and no longer works there.) . . .

. . . . Even as it blocks sales by smaller investors, Palantir has allowed Karp and Thiel to sell shares, according to the lawsuit. KT4 claims that these sales fly in the face of rights it has as an investor to participate in such transactions. . . .

5. We have covered Peter Thiel in numerous programs, beginning with our warning about him in FTR #718.

Some of the points we have made about him include:

  1. His family background in the Frankfurt (Germany) chemical business. Probably I.G. Farben/Bormann, in that context.
  2. His primary role in Palantir, apparently the maker of the PRISM software at the epicenter of L’Affaire Snowden.
  3. His role as the primary financier of Ron Paul’s super PAC. (Paul is an unabashed white supremacist, joined at the hip with David Duke and the neo-Confederate movement. He was the Presidential candidate of choice for Eddie “The Friendly Spook” Snowden and Julian Assange.) Snowden’s first attorney and the attorney for the Snowden family–Bruce Fein–was the chief legal counsel for Ron Paul’s 2012 Presidential campaign.
  4. Thiel’s belief system is antediluvian: . . . . ‘I no longer believe that freedom and democracy are compatible,’ Thiel wrote in a 2009 manifesto published by the libertarian Cato Institute. ‘Since 1920, the vast increase in welfare beneficiaries and the extension of the franchise to women — two constituencies that are notoriously tough for libertarians — have rendered the notion of ‘capitalist democracy’ into an oxymoron.’ . . . .”

Thiel began his professional life as an attorney–working for Sullivan & Cromwell. His leadership of Stanford’s Federalist Society (Gregory Kennedy lead the group as well) raises some interesting questions about Thiel’s legal point of view.

We note that his apocalyptic, anti-Enlightenment ideology draws on, among other influences, Carl Schmitt. Arguably the prime mover behind the German Conservative Revolution, Schmitt was also: “. . . . a Nazi and the Third Reich’s preeminent legal theorist. For Thiel, Schmitt is an inspiring throwback to a pre-Enlightenment age, who exalts struggle and insists that the discovery of enemies is the foundation of politics. . .”

“Peter Thiel’s Apocalypse” by Scott Lucas; San Francisco Magazine; 11/29 2017.

. . . . If press reports are correct, President Trump is considering appointing Thiel to be chair of the President’s Intelligence Advisory Board—a position previously held by such establishment sages as Brent Scowcroft and Chuck Hagel. This would make the 50-year-old entrepreneur one of the top executive branch advisers on America’s intelligence agencies. And it would be one of the most peculiar high-level appointments in American political history. . . .

. . . . For Thiel, Osama bin Laden is a kind of return of the religious repressed, an evil eruption from an archaic world we thought had vanished. “Today mere self-preservation forces all of us to look at the world anew, to think strange new thoughts, and thereby to awaken from that very long and profitable period of intellectual slumber and amnesia that is so misleadingly called the Enlightenment,” he writes.

To explore these “strange new thoughts,” Thiel turns to German legal scholar Carl Schmitt—a brilliant thinker who was also a Nazi and the Third Reich’s preeminent legal theorist. For Thiel, Schmitt is an inspiring throwback to a pre-Enlightenment age, who exalts struggle and insists that the discovery of enemies is the foundation of politics. . . . .

6. Thiel’s brief legal career was at Sullivan & Cromwell, the old Dulles law firm.

“PayPal’s Thiel Scores 230 Percent Gain with Soros-Style Fund” by Deepak Gopinath [Bloomberg.com]; CanadianHedgeWatch.com; 12/4/2006.

. . . After collecting his law degree, Thiel clerked for U.S. Federal Circuit Judge Larry Edmondson in Atlanta and then joined Sullivan & Cromwell LLP in New York. He lasted seven months and three days before quitting out of boredom, he says.

7. In FTR #946, we examined Cambridge Analytica, its Trump and Steve Bannon-linked tech firm that harvested Facebook data on behalf of the Trump campaign.

Palantir was apparently deeply involved with Cambridge Analytica’s gaming of personal data harvested from Facebook in order to engineer an electoral victory for Trump. Thiel was an early investor in Facebook, at one point was its largest shareholder and is still one of its largest shareholders. ” . . . . It was a Palantir employee in London, working closely with the data scientists building Cambridge’s psychological profiling technology, who suggested the scientists create their own app — a mobile-phone-based personality quiz — to gain access to Facebook users’ friend networks, according to documents obtained by The New York Times. The revelations pulled Palantir — co-founded by the wealthy libertarian Peter Thiel — into the furor surrounding Cambridge, which improperly obtained Facebook data to build analytical tools it deployed on behalf of Donald J. Trump and other Republican candidates in 2016. Mr. Thiel, a supporter of President Trump, serves on the board at Facebook. ‘There were senior Palantir employees that were also working on the Facebook data,’ said Christopher Wylie, a data expert and Cambridge Analytica co-founder, in testimony before British lawmakers on Tuesday. . . . The connections between Palantir and Cambridge Analytica were thrust into the spotlight by Mr. Wylie’s testimony on Tuesday. Both companies are linked to tech-driven billionaires who backed Mr. Trump’s campaign: Cambridge is chiefly owned by Robert Mercer, the computer scientist and hedge fund magnate, while Palantir was co-founded in 2003 by Mr. Thiel, who was an initial investor in Facebook. . . .”

“Spy Contractor’s Idea Helped Cambridge Analytica Harvest Facebook Data” by NICHOLAS CONFESSORE and MATTHEW ROSENBERG; The New York Times; 03/27/2018

As a start-up called Cambridge Analytica sought to harvest the Facebook data of tens of millions of Americans in summer 2014, the company received help from at least one employee at Palantir Technologies, a top Silicon Valley contractor to American spy agencies and the Pentagon. It was a Palantir employee in London, working closely with the data scientists building Cambridge’s psychological profiling technology, who suggested the scientists create their own app — a mobile-phone-based personality quiz — to gain access to Facebook users’ friend networks, according to documents obtained by The New York Times.

Cambridge ultimately took a similar approach. By early summer, the company found a university researcher to harvest data using a personality questionnaire and Facebook app. The researcher scraped private data from over 50 million Facebook users — and Cambridge Analytica went into business selling so-called psychometric profiles of American voters, setting itself on a collision course with regulators and lawmakers in the United States and Britain.

The revelations pulled Palantir — co-founded by the wealthy libertarian Peter Thiel — into the furor surrounding Cambridge, which improperly obtained Facebook data to build analytical tools it deployed on behalf of Donald J. Trump and other Republican candidates in 2016. Mr. Thiel, a supporter of President Trump, serves on the board at Facebook.

“There were senior Palantir employees that were also working on the Facebook data,” said Christopher Wylie, a data expert and Cambridge Analytica co-founder, in testimony before British lawmakers on Tuesday. . . .

. . . .The connections between Palantir and Cambridge Analytica were thrust into the spotlight by Mr. Wylie’s testimony on Tuesday. Both companies are linked to tech-driven billionaires who backed Mr. Trump’s campaign: Cambridge is chiefly owned by Robert Mercer, the computer scientist and hedge fund magnate, while Palantir was co-founded in 2003 by Mr. Thiel, who was an initial investor in Facebook. . . .

. . . . Documents and interviews indicate that starting in 2013, Mr. Chmieliauskas began corresponding with Mr. Wylie and a colleague from his Gmail account. At the time, Mr. Wylie and the colleague worked for the British defense and intelligence contractor SCL Group, which formed Cambridge Analytica with Mr. Mercer the next year. The three shared Google documents to brainstorm ideas about using big data to create sophisticated behavioral profiles, a product code-named “Big Daddy.”

A former intern at SCL — Sophie Schmidt, the daughter of Eric Schmidt, then Google’s executive chairman — urged the company to link up with Palantir, according to Mr. Wylie’s testimony and a June 2013 email viewed by The Times.

“Ever come across Palantir. Amusingly Eric Schmidt’s daughter was an intern with us and is trying to push us towards them?” one SCL employee wrote to a colleague in the email.

. . . . But he [Wylie] said some Palantir employees helped engineer Cambridge’s psychographic models.

“There were Palantir staff who would come into the office and work on the data,” Mr. Wylie told lawmakers. “And we would go and meet with Palantir staff at Palantir.” He did not provide an exact number for the employees or identify them.

Palantir employees were impressed with Cambridge’s backing from Mr. Mercer, one of the world’s richest men, according to messages viewed by The Times. And Cambridge Analytica viewed Palantir’s Silicon Valley ties as a valuable resource for launching and expanding its own business.

In an interview this month with The Times, Mr. Wylie said that Palantir employees were eager to learn more about using Facebook data and psychographics. Those discussions continued through spring 2014, according to Mr. Wylie.

Mr. Wylie said that he and Mr. Nix visited Palantir’s London office on Soho Square. One side was set up like a high-security office, Mr. Wylie said, with separate rooms that could be entered only with particular codes. The other side, he said, was like a tech start-up — “weird inspirational quotes and stuff on the wall and free beer, and there’s a Ping-Pong table.”

Mr. Chmieliauskas continued to communicate with Mr. Wylie’s team in 2014, as the Cambridge employees were locked in protracted negotiations with a researcher at Cambridge University, Michal Kosinski, to obtain Facebook data through an app Mr. Kosinski had built. The data was crucial to efficiently scale up Cambridge’s psychometrics products so they could be used in elections and for corporate clients. . . .

8. A recounting of the role of John Foster Dulles and Sullivan & Cromwell’s roles in the formation of I.G. Farben.

The Brothers: John Foster Dulls, Allen Dulles, and Their Secret World War by Stephen Kinzer; St. Martin Griffin [SC]; Copyright 2013 by Stephen Kinzer; ISBN 978-1-250-05312-1; pp. 49-52.

. . . . Foster had helped design the Dawes Plan of 1924, which restructured Germany’s reparation payments in ways that opened up huge new markets for American banks, and later that year he arranged for five of them to lend $100 million to German borrowers. In the seven years that followed, he and his partners brokered another $900 million in loans to Germany–the equivalent of more than $15 billion in early-twenty-first century dollars. This made him the preeminent salesman of German bonds in the United States, probably the world. He sharply rejected critics who argued that American banks should invest more inside the United States and protested when the State Department sought to restrict loans to Germany that were unrelated to reparation payments or that supported cartels or monopolies.

Foster made much money building and advising cartels, which are based on agreements among competing firms to control supplies, fix prices, and close their supply and distribution networks to outsiders. Reformers in many countries railed against these cartels, but Foster defended them as guarantors of stability that ensured profits while protecting economies from unpredictable swings. Two that he shaped became global forces.

Among Foster’s premier clients was the New Jersey-based International Nickel Company, for which he was not only counsel but also a director and member of the executive board. In the early 1930s, he steered it, along with its Canadian affiliate, into a cartel with France’s two major nickel producers. In 1934, he brought the biggest German nickel producer, I.G. Farben, into the cartel. This gave Nazi Germany access to the cartel’s resources.

“Without Dulles,” according to a study of Sullivan & Cromwell, “Germany would have lacked any negotiating strength with [International Nickel], which controlled the world’s supply of nickel, a crucial ingredient in stainless steel and armor plate.”

I.G. Farben was also one of the world’s largest chemical companies–it would produce the Zyklon B gas used at Nazi death camps–and as Foster was bringing it into the nickel cartel, he also helped it establish a global chemical cartel. He was a board member and legal counsel for another chemical producer, the Solvay conglomerate, based in Belgium. During the 1930s, he guided Solvay, I. G. Farben, the American firm Allied Chemical & Dye, and several other companies into a chemical cartel just as potent as the one he had organized for nickel producers.

In mid-1931, a consortium of American banks, eager to safeguard their investments in Germany, persuaded the German government to accept a loan of nearly $500 million to prevent default. Foster was their agent. His ties to the German government tightened after Hitler took power at the beginning of 1933 and appointed Foster’s old friend Hjalmar Schacht as minister of economics.

Allen [Dulles] had introduced the two men a decade earlier, when he was a diplomat in Berlin and Foster passed through regularly on Sullivan & Cromwell business. They were immediately drawn to each other, Schacht spoke fluent English and understood the United States well. Like Dulles, he projected an air of brisk authority. He was tall, gaunt, and always erect, with close-cropped hair and high, tight collars. Both men had considered entering the clergy before turning their powerful minds toward more remunerative pursuits. Each admired the culture that had produced the other. Both believed that a resurgent Germany would stand against Bolshevism. Mobilizing American capital to finance its rise was their common interest.

Working with Schacht, Foster helped the National Socialist state find rich sources of financing in the United States for its public agencies, banks, and industries. The two men shaped complex restructurings of German loan obligations at several “debt conferences” in Berlin–conferences that were officially among bankers, but were in fact closely guided by the German and American governments–and came up with new formulas that made it easier for the Germans to borrow money from American banks. Sullivan & Cromwell floated the first American bonds issued by the giant German steelmaker and arms manufacturer Krupp A.G., extended I.G. Farben’s global reach, and fought successfully to block Canada’s effort to restrict the export of steel to German arms makers. According to one history, the firm “represented several provincial governments, some large industrial combines, a number of big American companies with interests in the Reich, and some rich individuals.” By another account it “thrived on its cartels and collusion with the new Nazi regime.” The columnist Drew Pearson gleefully listed the German clients of Sullivan & Cromwell who had contributed money to the Nazis, and described Foster as chief agent for “the banking circles that rescued Adolf Hitler from the financial depths and set up his Nazi party as a going concern.”

Although the relationship between Foster and Schacht began well and thrived for years, it ended badly. Schacht contributed decisively to German rearmament and publicly urged Jews to “realize that their influence in Germany has disappeared for all time.” Although he later broke with Hitler and left the government, he would be tried at Nuremberg for “crimes against peace.” He was acquitted, but the chief American prosecutor, Robert Jackson, called him “the facade of starched responsibility, who in the early days provided the window dressing, the bait for the hesitant.” He baited no one more successfully than Foster.

During the mid-1930s, through a series of currency maneuvers, discounted buybacks, and other forms of financial warfare, Germany effectively defaulted on its debts to American investors. Foster represented the investors in unsuccessful appeals to Germany, many of them addressed to his old friend Schacht. Clients who had followed Sullivan & Cromwell’s advice to buy German bonds lost fortunes. That advice, according to one study, “cost Americans a billion dollars because Schacht seduced Dulles into supporting Germany for far too long.’ . . . .

. . . . Foster had clear financial reasons to collaborate with the Nazi regime, and his ideological reason–Hitler was fiercely anti-Bolshevik–was equally compelling. In later years, scholars would ask about his actions in the world. Did he do it out of a desire to protect economic privilege, or out of anti-Communist fervor? The best answer may be that to him there was no difference. In his mind defending multinational business and fighting Bolshevism were the same thing.

Since 1933, all letters written from the German offices of Sullivan & Cromwell had ended, as required by German regulations, with the salutation Heil Hitler! That did not disturb Foster. He churned out magazine and newspaper articles asserting that the “dynamic” countries of the world–Germany, Italy, and Japan–“feel within themselves potentialities which are suppressed,” and that Hitler’s semi-secret rearmament project simply showed that “Germany, by unilateral action, has now taken back her freedom of action.” . . . .

Discussion

4 comments for “FTR #1017 Supreme Court Trump Card: Family Trump, Family [Anthony] Kennedy and Peter Thiel”

  1. Dave, you briefly link to FTR #757 in the above text but I think it’s so important that it should also be highlighted by a comment. Listeners would do very well to review that program and the network behind Palantir.

    http://spitfirelist.com/for-the-record/ftr-757-the-adventures-of-eddie-the-friendly-spook-part-4-dramatis-personae-part-4-the-gruppenhobbit-and-the-underground-reich/

    Your point on the probable – but denied – link between all of the PRISM software in use around the world is excellent. The name Palantir was inspired by the magic crystals in Tolkien’s LOTR trilogy which were placed in different kingdoms but all linked together allowing their users to connect and share information, knowingly or not. That type of inspiration leads me to believe the denials of the link are just prevarication.

    Posted by Sampson | August 3, 2018, 6:14 am
  2. With the surprise last minute move by Republican Senator Jeff Flake to delay the confirmation of Brett Kavanaugh by a week to give the FBI (not enough) time to investigation the wave of allegations of past sexual assaults and possible gang rapes, American society is set to spend another week scrutinizing the increasingly disturbing profile of Kavanaugh’s character. So given that we’re talking about appointing a man who appears to have embraced a worldview of machismo and the misogynistic and dehumanizing objectification of women to a lifetime appointment to one of the most powerful positions in the US, it’s probably a useful time to note that the casual culture of rank misogyny that Kavanaugh appears to have been immersed represents a meta-problem that has plagued humanity forever: the dehumanization of ‘others’.

    Whether those ‘others’ of members of another race, tribe, gender, or whatever. There’s simply no denying that the dehumanization of ‘others’ is a tragically ‘human’ thing to do, and there’s perhaps no better and older example of that facet of humanity than misogyny. And when you combine that human tendency towards dehumanization with an embrace of a predatory mindset and hormones and apply it in the context of a misogynistic culture (which is virtually every traditional culture), you’re going to end up with a society inevitably populated with a lots of little Brett Kavanaughs. Guys who have adopted a worldview where women are conquests and little else.

    Sure, such men might have some women in their lives that they don’t objectify, but it’s undeniable that the view of women as property, sex objects, and not much else is one of those meta-stories across human history. And that fundamental drive to dehumanize and prey on ‘others’ isn’t just found at the core of misogynistic worldviews. All sorts of different aspects of authoritarian cultures rely on that same underlying human capacity to dehumanize and prey on others. And Brett Kavanaugh just happens to be a great example of highlighting this foundation of dehumanizing predation shared by everything from misogynists to dictators to theocrats and any other power monger. And most especially fascists. If you had to give a name to an ideology that essentially embraces the spirit of dehumanizing predation it’s facism.

    When that desire by the powerful few to capture society and put it under their thumb under the spirit that the strong should dominate and subjugate the weak is manifested as a political movement, that’s invariably going to be a movement with heavy fascist overtone. And one of those overtones is a drive to remove whatever protections might exist to prevent the strong from prey on everyone else. Creating a virtual ‘law of the jungle’ that empowers the strong to dominate the weak isn’t just an ends and a means when it comes to fascist thought. It’s also an underlying human impulse embraced by those who have adopted a fundamentally predatory mindset. A predatory impulse that’s found in everyone from a serial rapist to a serial strongman. Or an authoritarian oligarch intent on capturing society.

    And in the realm of American politics, it’s hard to come up with a group more emblematic of that movement by the powerful to shape society in ways that empower the powerful to dominate the weak and vulnerable than a group like the Federalist Society, of which Brett Kavanaugh is a member. Because the Federalist Society just happens to be the most influential judicial organization in the US – the four current right-wing members of the Supreme Court are all Federalist Society members – and the entire goal of the Federalist Society is to reshape the US courts in a way that makes them friendlier to the very wealthy, big business, and the authoritarian religious right. Oh, and it’s heavily financed by the Koch brothers. It’s that kind of organization.

    So if the US Senate is about to appoint a serial predator to the Supreme Court, it’s probably a good time to point out that making life easier for elite serial predators – i.e. right-wing oligarchs who want to capture society – is the primary purpose of the Federalist Society:

    The New Statesmen

    Who are the Federalist Society? Inside the right-wing group picking Trump’s Supreme Court judges

    How a group for libertarian law students founded in 1982 has come to dominate the judicial nomination process.

    By Sophie McBain
    7 September 2018

    When Brett Kavanaugh is confirmed as Supreme Court Justice, as he almost certainly will be, it will mean that five of the nine Supreme Court justices are members of the Federalist Society, a network of conservative and libertarian lawyers that has become one of the most powerful groups in America today.

    The most enduring legacy of the Trump administration may be its remaking of the courts: in addition to two Supreme Court appointees (Trump’s other pick, the conservative Neil Gorsuch was appointed last January), Trump inherited 107 other judicial vacancies. According to New York Times figures, President Ronald Reagan inherited 35 unfilled judgeships and President Barack Obama had 54.

    Trump has effectively outsourced the task of filling these seats to the Federalist Society, and in particular to its executive vice-president, an ultra-conservative, devout Catholic named Leonard Leo, who has helped transform the lawyers network into, as the New Yorker describes it, a “conservative pipeline to the Supreme Court”.

    So how did the Society, which began as a students’ group, become so powerful – and what does it stand for?

    The Federalist Society was started in 1982 by conservative law students at Yale and the University of Chicago who wanted to create a counterbalance to what they saw as the liberal orthodoxy of law faculties around the country. Its first faculty advisers were Robert H. Bork at Yale (who was a Reagan nominee to the Supreme Court but who was rejected by the Senate) and Antonin Scalia (who served on the Supreme Court from 1986-2016, having been appointed by Reagan).

    The organisation rapidly spread to campuses across the country, spurred by funding from wealthy conservative donors such as the Koch brothers, and later sprung professional chapters too. Today the Federalist Society has 70,000 members and a presence on almost every university campus and in every major city. It organises regular talks and events for law students and practicing lawyers, which provide an opportunity for conservative lawyers to network and build reputations.

    That the Federalist Society has such an active student and professional body makes it different from many other interest groups, which tend to be dominated by Washington staff, says Steven Teles, the author of Rise of the Conservative Legal Movement: The Battle for Control of the Law. It means that Leo has a very “dense intelligence network”, Teles told me when we spoke on the phone.

    As well as building links between conservative lawyers, the Federalist Society’s talks and events have provided a way for it to spread and develop its ideas and approach to judicial philosophy. The Society grew up with its first student members, as they began taking up senior jobs in government and the judiciary, providing the Federalist Society with a network of like-minded lawyers that extends right up to the Supreme Court and the President (the White House lawyer Don McGahn is a member of the Federalist Society) and across campuses, companies and local courts around the country.

    As well as being well-organised and well-funded, the Federalist Society’s ideological purity makes it a formidable political force, Teles argues. Its members are united by their judicial philosophy rather than any partisan affiliation to the Republican Party.

    On its website it describes these principles as “that the state exists to preserve freedom, that the separation of governmental powers is central to our Constitution, and that it is emphatically the province and duty of the judiciary to say what the law is, not what it should be”, which entails “reordering priorities within the legal system to place a premium on individual liberty, traditional values, and the rule of law”.

    As this abstract wording suggests, the range of opinions held by members of the Federalist Society is quite broad though they share a similar approach to the law. The main tension within the group is between those who believe their primary function should be constraining the federal judiciary and those who believe their role is to empower the federal judiciary to enforce what they see as America’s founding principles, Teles says.

    “In general they promote these kinds of ideas: they are in favour of small government as opposed to big government, they oppose most government regulation of business and property, their core value is private property and the ability of a private property owner to do what he or she wants with their private property, they are strong believers in American exceptionalism and believe the US has a special role to play in the world and that people in the US are somehow a special kind of people, they would rather have things done by the state than federal government and they are strong on religious freedom but religious freedom of a sometimes extreme nature – arguing, for example, that religion is an excuse for not complying with anti-discrimination laws,” says Michael Avery, the co-author with Danielle McLaughlin of the book, The Federalist Society: How Conservatives Took the Law Back from Liberals.

    The Federalist Society’s influence rose with the presidency of George W Bush – all the federal judges that were appointed by Bush were either members of the Federalist Society or were approved by the group – but it has never been more powerful than it is today. Not only does the large number of judicial vacancies present them with an unprecedented opportunity to remake the courts, but Trump has also given Leo more power than any previous president over judicial nominations.

    At the Trump administration’s request, Leo drew up a list of 25 potential Supreme Court nominees for the president’s consideration, which included Kavanaugh. At the same time, the influence exerted by the Senate on the nomination process has decreased.

    “It used to be that Republican Senators played a much more important role in judicial selection than they do now, so ordinary party patronage mechanisms used to be more important. But I think this ideological network that we associated with the Federalist Society has clawed away more and more power from that senatorial role over time,” says Teles. “And it’s clearly the case that Trump… has been willing to completely subcontract this over to these conservative judicial networks.”

    One of the most effective checks on Trump has been the US courts, who have challenged some of the administration’s most egregious policies, from the Muslim ban, to child separations, the rescindment of DACA and environmental deregulation. In addition to the threat to women’s reproductive rights and LGBT rights, a judicial system dominated by right-wing libertarians might have responded very differently to Trump’s executive orders.

    “It’s important for all Americans to understand that the extreme right wing, the extreme conservatives, are much better organised, much better financed, and have a much better idea of what they’re about than the liberals or progressives do. The liberals or progressives need to wake up and take a look at what’s happening at the other end of the ideological spectrum and figure out a way to get their own house in order, because liberals and progressives have been losing ground now for the last almost 40 years, and even to this day they have not come with either an effective set of ideas or an effective organising principle that allows them to make this a fair contest,” Avery tells me.

    In the absence of an effective liberal alternative to the Federalist Society, the best hope for liberals is that they will win back control of Congress at the Midterms, he says. “If the left-wing and progressives can’t capture the legislative branch and turn the popular will into their way of thinking, we’re in for a rough ride for the next several years if not decades.”

    ———–

    “Who are the Federalist Society? Inside the right-wing group picking Trump’s Supreme Court judges” by Sophie McBain; The New Statesmen; 09/07/2018

    ““It’s important for all Americans to understand that the extreme right wing, the extreme conservatives, are much better organised, much better financed, and have a much better idea of what they’re about than the liberals or progressives do. The liberals or progressives need to wake up and take a look at what’s happening at the other end of the ideological spectrum and figure out a way to get their own house in order, because liberals and progressives have been losing ground now for the last almost 40 years, and even to this day they have not come with either an effective set of ideas or an effective organising principle that allows them to make this a fair contest,” Avery tells me.”

    The liberals or progressives need to wake up and take a look at what’s happening at the other end of the ideological spectrum. It’s a chilling an apt warning. And in the context of these allegations of Kavanaugh operating in a world where women were systematically preyed upon, it’s a warning that’s become especially chilling and apt. Because, again, that underlying capacity to dehumanize and prey upon the vulnerable isn’t just a the core of misogyny. It’s also at the core of all sorts of other human behaviors that involve the systematic abuse of power. And when we look at what the Federalist Society fights for, and who it’s fighting for, it’s hard to avoid the conclusion that it’s a society dedicate to making it easier for the powerful to wield their power:


    On its website it describes these principles as “that the state exists to preserve freedom, that the separation of governmental powers is central to our Constitution, and that it is emphatically the province and duty of the judiciary to say what the law is, not what it should be”, which entails “reordering priorities within the legal system to place a premium on individual liberty, traditional values, and the rule of law”.

    “In general they promote these kinds of ideas: they are in favour of small government as opposed to big government, they oppose most government regulation of business and property, their core value is private property and the ability of a private property owner to do what he or she wants with their private property, they are strong believers in American exceptionalism and believe the US has a special role to play in the world and that people in the US are somehow a special kind of people, they would rather have things done by the state than federal government and they are strong on religious freedom but religious freedom of a sometimes extreme nature – arguing, for example, that religion is an excuse for not complying with anti-discrimination laws,” says Michael Avery, the co-author with Danielle McLaughlin of the book, The Federalist Society: How Conservatives Took the Law Back from Liberals.

    Yep, the powerful judicial organization in the US has, at it’s core credo, the idea that business and property owners should be able to do whatever they want without interference. And while that is no doubt portrayed as “stopping the oppressive government from trampling on the helpless private citizen”, it’s undeniable that the groups is fighting for the rights of the most powerful people in the country to act with impunity. In addition, the religious right should get the power to use religion as an excuse to discriminate, extending that capacity to abuse power to average citizens to be wielded against their fellow citizens. It’s truly a ‘wolf in sheep’s clothing’ movement. A movement dedicated to power for power’s sake under the guise of judicial philosophy. A philosophy torn between the goal of limiting the ability of the federal judiciary to act on the public’s behalf and the goal of enabling that same judiciary to enforce a traditionalist right-wing religious worldview:


    As this abstract wording suggests, the range of opinions held by members of the Federalist Society is quite broad though they share a similar approach to the law. The main tension within the group is between those who believe their primary function should be constraining the federal judiciary and those who believe their role is to empower the federal judiciary to enforce what they see as America’s founding principles, Teles says.

    One of the most effective checks on Trump has been the US courts, who have challenged some of the administration’s most egregious policies, from the Muslim ban, to child separations, the rescindment of DACA and environmental deregulation. In addition to the threat to women’s reproductive rights and LGBT rights, a judicial system dominated by right-wing libertarians might have responded very differently to Trump’s executive orders.

    And this organization run by and for the powerful is now more powerful than it’s ever been before and the most influential judicial organization in the country. And yet it was only started in 1982. It shows just how powerful the powerful are in the US: with enough financing from wealth donors like the Kochs, this group that was started by conservative law students at Yale (where Kavanaugh went) and the University of Chicago managed to basically take over the US judicial system in a few decades:


    The Federalist Society was started in 1982 by conservative law students at Yale and the University of Chicago who wanted to create a counterbalance to what they saw as the liberal orthodoxy of law faculties around the country. Its first faculty advisers were Robert H. Bork at Yale (who was a Reagan nominee to the Supreme Court but who was rejected by the Senate) and Antonin Scalia (who served on the Supreme Court from 1986-2016, having been appointed by Reagan).

    The organisation rapidly spread to campuses across the country, spurred by funding from wealthy conservative donors such as the Koch brothers, and later sprung professional chapters too. Today the Federalist Society has 70,000 members and a presence on almost every university campus and in every major city. It organises regular talks and events for law students and practicing lawyers, which provide an opportunity for conservative lawyers to network and build reputations.

    The Federalist Society’s influence rose with the presidency of George W Bush – all the federal judges that were appointed by Bush were either members of the Federalist Society or were approved by the group – but it has never been more powerful than it is today. Not only does the large number of judicial vacancies present them with an unprecedented opportunity to remake the courts, but Trump has also given Leo more power than any previous president over judicial nominations.

    At the Trump administration’s request, Leo drew up a list of 25 potential Supreme Court nominees for the president’s consideration, which included Kavanaugh. At the same time, the influence exerted by the Senate on the nomination process has decreased.

    “It used to be that Republican Senators played a much more important role in judicial selection than they do now, so ordinary party patronage mechanisms used to be more important. But I think this ideological network that we associated with the Federalist Society has clawed away more and more power from that senatorial role over time,” says Teles. “And it’s clearly the case that Trump… has been willing to completely subcontract this over to these conservative judicial networks.”

    And that takeover of the US courts by an organization run by and for the powerful to make themselves even more powerful is one of the meta-stories that isn’t just tangentially connected to the story of Brett Kavanaugh’s apparent history of sexual assault and misogyny. It’s deeply connected. To some extent it’s different facets of the same underlying story of that all too human capacity to prey on those you don’t see fully human. And that story, in today’s context, is the story of the rise of ascendancy of fascism and the far right across the globe. Brett Kavanaugh’s nomination is just one particularly sordid chapter in that larger underlying story.

    It’s also worth noting that act of dehumanizing and preying on others represents doesn’t just represent an all too human capacity. And also represents an all too human incapacity, in the sense of that the dehumanization of others tends to be a profoundly stupid act in addition to being evil. Because evil and profound stupidity are deeply intertwined phenomena. And if you’re the kind of guy that, hormones or not, doesn’t feel awful about abusing women you probably lack a cognitive capacity to do so and that’s a real form of stupidity. Especially when alcohol is involved. If you can’t see people of the opposite sex or different tribes, religions, social classes, or whatever as fully human, you aren’t just evil. You are profoundly stupid too, at least in that key area of cognition and that’s inevitably going to affect all sorts of other areas of cognition. The ‘ol ‘stupid or evil’ question is really a trick question. Because while you can have stupidity without evil, you can’t really have evil without some sort of profound stupidity. So that’s another aspect of this story. It’s a stupid story about the Supreme Court. Or rather, a very important story about profound stupidity and the Supreme Court and the power dynamics of society in general and the dangers of putting someone on that court who appears to have embraced a worldview where the powerful should be able to act with impunity. This is probably a good week for the US to explore all of that and hopefully learn about the Federalist Society in the process.

    Posted by Pterrafractyl | September 29, 2018, 1:59 pm
  3. With the nomination of Brett Kavanaugh currently awaiting the results of an FBI investigation following a wave of sexual assault allegations, one of the big questions at this point is why is the GOP sticking with this guy, and risking alienating even more women from the GOP, when they could just as easily ask him to withdraw and choose a different candidate? And while attempts to answer that question usually revolve around the observation that Kavanaugh’s views the a sitting president can’t be indicted are going to be highly prized by someone like President Trump.

    But as the following pair of articles point out, there’s another area of significant support for Kavanaugh within the GOP establishment: He is really close to the Bush family. Brett served as the Assistant to the President and Staff Secretary for President George W. Bush from 2003-2006. He also worked in George H. W. Bush’s solicitor general’s office. And, of course, he was the principal author of the Starr Report.

    And his wife Ashley Kavanaugh is also quite close to the Bushes. She was the assistant to George W. Bush when he was governor of Texas from 1996 to 1999. She worked on the Bush-Cheney campaign in 2000. From 2001 to 2005 she was George W. Bush’s personal secretary. From 2005-2009 she was the Director of Special Projects for the George W. Bush presidential Foundation. And from 2009-2010 she was the media relations coordinator for the George w. Bush Presidential Center.

    So if it seems amazing that the GOP establishment appears to be willing to stick with Kavanaugh and risk solidifying the GOP’s Trumpian brand as a haven for sexual assaulters, it’s worth keeping in mind that the Bush-faction of the GOP is probably particularly keen on seeing Kavanaugh get that seat:

    Heavy.com

    Brett Kavanaugh & George W. Bush: What are the Ties?

    By Jessica McBride

    Updated Jul 10, 2018 at 10:35am

    Judge Brett Kavanaugh, President Donald Trump’s Supreme Court nominee to replace Anthony Kennedy, has longstanding ties to former President George W. Bush, as does his wife, Ashley Estes Kavanaugh.

    Both Brett and Ashley Kavanaugh served in the Bush administration and Bush nominated Brett M. Kavanaugh to the position he currently holds on the U.S. Court of Appeals in Washington D.C. Trump revealed Kavanaugh as his pick for Supreme Court on July 9, 2018. Kavanaugh was one of four rumored finalists, with Judges Amy Coney Barrett, Thomas Hardiman, and Raymond Kethledge also among them. Because Trump and the Bush family have a publicized feud, some people thought Brett Kavanaugh’s Bush ties could hurt his chances with the president. However, that didn’t stop the president from picking him in the end, even though some conservative infightingbroke out over the pick, with “whisper campaigns” calling Brett Kavanaugh the “low-energy Jeb Bush pick,” according to National Review..

    Bush praised the selection.

    JUST IN: Former Pres. George W. Bush "President Trump has made an outstanding decision in nominating Judge Brett Kavanaugh to the; Supreme Court…He will make a superb Justice of the Supreme Court of the United States." https://t.co/K7XhW1iSMb pic.twitter.com/T9brBFNQ1U— Evan McMurry (@evanmcmurry) July 10, 2018

    Here’s what you need to know about Brett Kavanaugh’s Bush ties:

    Brett Kavanaugh Served as the Staff Secretary to George W. Bush

    Brett Kavanaugh is a judge serving on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit Court. He is a graduate of Yale Law School who also spent time in private practice.

    A bio for Brett Kavanaugh also sketches out his Bush ties, saying, “From July 2003 until his appointment to the court in 2006, he was Assistant to the President and Staff Secretary to President Bush.”

    Kavanaugh, the former staff secretary to George W. Bush, also played a role in drafting the Ken Starr report into the impeachment of former President Bill Clinton. When Kavanaugh was sworn in as a federal judge, Bush said,, “for the past five years, he has served in the White House as Associate Counsel, a senior Associate Counsel, and as Staff Secretary.”

    At the same event, Kavanaugh told Bush he had the “greatest respect” for him. “I also appreciate the opportunity to have served under the Vice President and under Chiefs of Staff Andy Card and Josh Bolten. The White House staff are dedicated public servants who have been good colleagues and good friends, and I’ll miss working with all of you very much,” Kavanaugh said at his swearing-in hearing.

    He has held other government jobs, and served in George H.W. Bush’s administration too in the solicitor general’s office. “Kavanaugh was a protegé of Kenneth Starr,” reports Vox. “He was a principal author of the Starr Report.”

    The Daily Caller, a conservative website, reported on the sniping against Brett Kavanaugh, quoting one anonymous source as saying, “Kavanaugh is Jeb Bush’s pick for the Supreme Court. This is the low-energy Jeb Bush pick. No one in the base will be animated by [Kavanaugh] — especially Trump supporters who rejected the Bush legacy.”

    George W. Bush Called Brett Kavanaugh a ‘Good Man’ & Joked That He Arranged His Marriage

    Bush nominated Brett Kavanaugh to the Court of Appeals, and he spoke at the swearing-in ceremony in 2006. According to a story posted by the White House, Bush praised Brett Kavanaugh, saying, “the second-highest in our land gains a brilliant and talented new member. The staff of the White House celebrates a friend they admire and a colleague they will miss. I congratulate a good man and a fine public servant on a job well done.” Bush then quipped, “I’m especially pleased to be with Brett’s wife, Ashley, whose face I know well and whose marriage was the first lifetime appointment I arranged for Brett.”

    The former president added, “I chose Brett because of the force of his mind, his breadth of experience, and the strength of his character.”

    Bush also mentioned Kavanaugh’s then new daughter. “Welcome the star of Brett’s most recent televised hearing, Margaret Murphy Kavanaugh,” Bush said to laughter from the crowd. “Margaret has his mother’s — has her mother’s good looks, and her dad’s preference for hearings that do not last too long.”

    At the same hearing, Brett Kavanaugh called Margaret, his only child at the time, a “daily inspiration.”

    “Ashley and our little girl Margaret are a daily inspiration. Ashley, as the President noted, is from Abilene, Texas. For those of you who don’t know much about Texas geography, it’s about halfway between Dallas and Midland,” he said. “Ashley’s parents are here, and I thank them for coming. Ashley likes to remind me that true love, true love is a Texas girl who is willing to marry a guy with a lifetime appointment in Washington, D.C.”

    According to The Washington Examiner, “In 2004, Kavanaugh married presidential assistant Ashley Estes, who gave birth to their daughter, Margaret, 13 months later. The family lives in Chevy Chase, directly across the street from White House Counsel Dan Bartlett.”

    Kavanaugh’s Wife Has Deep Ties to the Bush Administration

    Ashley Estes Kavanaugh, the spouse of Brett Kavanaugh, has deep ties to the administration of George W. Bush as well. Her links to Bush go back to his days as Texas governor.

    According to her LinkedIn page, Ashley Estes Kavanaugh worked as media relations coordinator for the George W. Bush Presidential Center from 2009-2010; worked as Director of Special Projects for the George W. Bush presidential Foundation from 2005 to 2009; was President George W. Bush’s personal secretary from 2001 to 2005; was an assistant in the White House from 2001 to 2005; and worked on the Bush-Cheney 2000 campaign from 1996 to 2000.

    Her time with Bush dates to his work in Texas as governor there. She was assistant to Governor George W. Bush from 1996 to 1999. She attended the University of Texas at Austin from 1994 to 1997.

    Her LinkedIn page says she is Town Manager, Section 5 of the Village of Chevy Chase, Maryland. A newsletter for the town reports, “She has lived in Section 5 on Underwood Street for the last ten years along with her husband, Brett, and their two daughters, Margaret and Liza.”

    ———

    “Brett Kavanaugh & George W. Bush: What are the Ties?” by Jessica McBride; Heavy.com; 07/10/2018

    Both Brett and Ashley Kavanaugh served in the Bush administration and Bush nominated Brett M. Kavanaugh to the position he currently holds on the U.S. Court of Appeals in Washington D.C. Trump revealed Kavanaugh as his pick for Supreme Court on July 9, 2018. Kavanaugh was one of four rumored finalists, with Judges Amy Coney Barrett, Thomas Hardiman, and Raymond Kethledge also among them. Because Trump and the Bush family have a publicized feud, some people thought Brett Kavanaugh’s Bush ties could hurt his chances with the president. However, that didn’t stop the president from picking him in the end, even though some conservative infightingbroke out over the pick, with “whisper campaigns” calling Brett Kavanaugh the “low-energy Jeb Bush pick,” according to National Review..”

    Both Brett and his wife Ashley go way back with the Bushes. It’s a key feature of Kavanaugh’s resume. And not a good feature given the political nature of the Bush clan, but a relevant one:


    Brett Kavanaugh Served as the Staff Secretary to George W. Bush

    Brett Kavanaugh is a judge serving on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit Court. He is a graduate of Yale Law School who also spent time in private practice.

    A bio for Brett Kavanaugh also sketches out his Bush ties, saying, “From July 2003 until his appointment to the court in 2006, he was Assistant to the President and Staff Secretary to President Bush.”

    Kavanaugh, the former staff secretary to George W. Bush, also played a role in drafting the Ken Starr report into the impeachment of former President Bill Clinton. When Kavanaugh was sworn in as a federal judge, Bush said,, “for the past five years, he has served in the White House as Associate Counsel, a senior Associate Counsel, and as Staff Secretary.”

    At the same event, Kavanaugh told Bush he had the “greatest respect” for him. “I also appreciate the opportunity to have served under the Vice President and under Chiefs of Staff Andy Card and Josh Bolten. The White House staff are dedicated public servants who have been good colleagues and good friends, and I’ll miss working with all of you very much,” Kavanaugh said at his swearing-in hearing.

    He has held other government jobs, and served in George H.W. Bush’s administration too in the solicitor general’s office. “Kavanaugh was a protegé of Kenneth Starr,” reports Vox. “He was a principal author of the Starr Report.”

    And Ashley Kavanaugh arguably has just as close ties to the Bushes as her husband:


    Kavanaugh’s Wife Has Deep Ties to the Bush Administration

    Ashley Estes Kavanaugh, the spouse of Brett Kavanaugh, has deep ties to the administration of George W. Bush as well. Her links to Bush go back to his days as Texas governor.

    According to her LinkedIn page, Ashley Estes Kavanaugh worked as media relations coordinator for the George W. Bush Presidential Center from 2009-2010; worked as Director of Special Projects for the George W. Bush presidential Foundation from 2005 to 2009; was President George W. Bush’s personal secretary from 2001 to 2005; was an assistant in the White House from 2001 to 2005; and worked on the Bush-Cheney 2000 campaign from 1996 to 2000.

    Her time with Bush dates to his work in Texas as governor there. She was assistant to Governor George W. Bush from 1996 to 1999. She attended the University of Texas at Austin from 1994 to 1997.

    But this all doesn’t quite capture just how influential a role Kavanaugh played in the George W. Bush administration. For that, we’ll take a look at the following article, which covers how Kavanaugh was basically George W. Bush’s “intellectual body man” and millions of documents related to his work for Bush are being withheld during this nomination process:

    The Washington Post

    Brett Kavanaugh: Bush’s intellectual body man

    By Robert O’Harrow Jr.
    August 24, 2018

    It was the apogee of Brett Kavanaugh’s rise through the ranks of the conservative movement, a job that put him in daily proximity to President George W. Bush and made him an intellectual “umpire” for a welter of political and policy aides who were aiming to shape the Republican agenda.

    Kavanaugh, now President Trump’s nominee to the Supreme Court, had an ordinary-sounding title: staff secretary. But he wielded extraordinary influence as the adviser responsible for screening, reviewing and editing documents delivered to Bush, interviews and documents show.

    “Ultimately, the umpire was Brett,” said Karl Rove, a Bush adviser and one of the people Kavanaugh worked with closely as staff secretary.

    Many Supreme Court justices over the decades have held strong political views or been active in liberal or conservative causes. Justice Elena Kagan, a law professor, served as an associate counsel and adviser in the Clinton White House. Former Justice Abe Fortas privately advised President Lyndon B. Johnson on political matters. William Rehnquist was ­active in the Republican Party in Arizona before he became a ­justice.

    But no justice in recent memory has worked as intently as Kavanaugh at the highest levels of the nation’s political machinery, scholars said. His time as staff secretary, from 2003 to 2006, was the culmination of a political and legal apprenticeship that lasted more than a decade, enabling him to demonstrate his zeal for conservative principles and putting him on a path to the Supreme Court.

    Documents and interviews show that while Kavanaugh was not a policymaker, he was directly involved in helping the White House manage a wide array of sensitive matters, including the war on terrorism, the treatment of enemy combatants and warrantless wiretapping.

    “It put Kavanaugh at the center of every political and policy decision at the Bush White House,” said Peter Irons, professor emeritus at the University of California at San Diego and author of several books about the Supreme Court. “He is exactly the kind of person that the legal conservative movement wants on the court.”

    His tenure is now a source of controversy, because much of his work in the White House has been cloaked by presidential privilege. Republicans have declined to request records from that era, suggesting that they would not be revelatory.

    “He was more or less a traffic cop,” Senate Majority Whip John Cornyn (R-Tex.) said last month.

    Questions about Kavanaugh’s work in the political realm surfaced in 2004, after he was nominated by Bush to be a circuit court judge. Sen. Charles E. Schumer (D-N.Y.) alleged that the “nomination appears to be judicial payment for political services rendered.”

    “In fact, Mr. Kavanaugh would probably win first prize as the hard-right’s political lawyer,” Schumer said, according to a transcript of the nomination hearing.

    Kavanaugh defended himself vigorously, saying that prior political affiliations did not necessarily impede a good judge’s performance.

    “There is one kind of judge,” he said during the hearing. “There is an independent judge under our Constitution. And the fact that they may have been a Republican or Democrat … in a past life is completely irrelevant to how they conduct themselves as judges.”

    As the Senate Judiciary Committee prepares for confirmation hearings starting Sept. 4, much remains unknown about that significant stretch of Kavanaugh’s career.

    Most of the millions of documents relating to his White House service will not be available for review before his confirmation. The committee has received batches of records from the George W. Bush library, releasing tens of thousands of documents in recent weeks. But most relate to Kavanaugh’s years in the White House Counsel’s Office, before he became staff secretary, and have been devoid of telling detail. Democrats have complained they can’t properly take stock of ­Kavanaugh.

    “We asked for documents from Kavanaugh’s time as staff secretary because he admitted those years shaped his views as a judge, particularly with regard to issues of executive power,” Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) said in a ­statement.

    “We also need to know more about his involvement with controversial issues like torture, warrantless wiretapping and presidential signing statements,” Feinstein said. “He has a far more extensive record in politics than previous nominees. It’s critical that senators see the full picture to understand how those political positions influenced his current views.”

    White House spokesman Raj Shah said Kavanaugh has demonstrated his commitment to taking a judicious and fair-minded approach to the Supreme Court.

    “What will tell you most about the type of Supreme Court Justice he will make are the 307 opinions he wrote as a Judge on the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals, a dozen of which were affirmed by the Supreme Court, over the last 12 years,” Shah said in a statement. “His opinions are widely cited by judges, appointed by presidents of both parties, in courts across the country. They demonstrate independence and a fidelity to our laws and constitution.”

    To find clues about Kavanaugh’s role as staff secretary, The Washington Post examined more than 2,000 pages of emails and other documents previously released by the Bush library, along with scores of emails contained in 191 pages of documents released last week by the Justice Department in response to a Freedom of Information Act request by Fix the Court, a group advocating for more transparency in the federal court system.

    The Bush library and Justice Department emails have been heavily redacted, with most of the content removed, as part of the government’s normal application of exemptions under the federal Freedom of Information Act or the Presidential Records Act. But combined with Kavanaugh’s public statements and writings, the email addresses and subject lines provide granularity to a composite portrait of him in the years he was staff secretary and before.

    Kavanaugh was responsible for managing the process that helped shape the president’s thinking and fueled the Bush administration agenda. “He was everywhere,” said Michael Gerson, a speechwriter in the Bush administration and now a syndicated columnist at The Post.

    Gerson, Rove and others said Kavanaugh was an honest broker, even as he conveyed competing ideas to the president.

    “Virtually every piece of paper had to pass through the staff secretary’s hands,” Rove said.

    Kavanaugh, now 53, has described the White House jobs — ending in 2006 when he was confirmed as a federal judge on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit — as an unrelenting mix of demands that required him to constantly consider the legal, policy, legislative, political, international and public relations implications of White House actions.

    “I spent a good deal of time on Capitol Hill, sometimes in the middle of the night, working on legislation — it’s not a pure or pristine process,” Kavanaugh wrote in an essay for Marquette Lawyer Magazine in the fall of 2016.

    “I worked on drafting and revising executive orders, as well as disputes over executive branch records,” he wrote. “I saw regulatory agencies screw up … I saw the good and the bad sides of a president’s trying to run for reelection and to raise money while still being president. I was involved in the process for lots of presidential speeches. I traveled almost everywhere with the president for about three years. I ­mostly recall the massive decisions that had to be made on short notice.”

    Kavanaugh’s roots in the conservative legal world date to at least 1988. While attending Yale Law School, he joined the conservative-libertarian Federalist Society for Law and Public Policy Studies, and has since spoken at dozens of the group’s events.

    In the early 1990s, he worked under Kenneth Starr in the Solicitor General’s Office in the administration of President George H.W. Bush. He served as clerk to Supreme Court Justice Anthony M. Kennedy and worked under Starr again in the independent counsel’s office that investigated President Bill Clinton.

    Some of the emails released by the Bush library come from Kavanaugh’s days in the White House Counsel’s Office, which he joined in 2001.

    On October 10, 2002, Kavanaugh received or was copied on emails relating to enemy combatants and the Guantanamo prison. The subject line of one email read: “If you get asked about detainees at Quantanamo.” The email contained a set of Defense Department talking points from Jan. 17, 2002, titled “The War Against Terrorism.”

    “Karen — here are some on the GITMO folks. I am working with Justice on the domestic people we are holding. Stay turned for more talkers.”

    The emails also show that Kavanaugh worked with others on up to 22 drafts to refine Bush’s speeches, while also editing radio addresses and routine statements. People familiar with his work said he was effectively an intellectual body man for the president, one who constantly asked questions of his colleagues and kept in mind the implications of the president’s statements and policies.

    Kavanaugh was often at Bush’s side, here and abroad. On June 5, 2004, the day that former president Ronald Reagan died, Kavanaugh had to wake up Bush in the American Embassy during a trip to France to make a statement.

    On Sept. 3, 2005, Kavanaugh received a call that Rehnquist had died. He needed to meet with Bush and White House speechwriters early the next morning to prepare remarks.

    In December 2005, not long before he left the White House, Kavanaugh joined in an administrative scramble to respond to bombshell revelations in the New York Times of a warrantless wiretapping program that was launched after Sept. 11, 2001, according to the Justice Department emails.

    Kavanaugh and others weighed in on talking points from the National Security Agency that spelled out the legal authorization for the surveillance program. On Dec. 20, 2005, Kavanaugh recommended that amended talking points be shared with the NSA before their release.

    “I think we should make sure General Hayden sees these before they go,” Kavanaugh wrote.

    ———-

    “Brett Kavanaugh: Bush’s intellectual body man” by Robert O’Harrow Jr.; The Washington Post; 08/24/2018

    “It was the apogee of Brett Kavanaugh’s rise through the ranks of the conservative movement, a job that put him in daily proximity to President George W. Bush and made him an intellectual “umpire” for a welter of political and policy aides who were aiming to shape the Republican agenda.

    An “intellectual umpire” for the George W. Bush administration. That’s not exactly an uncontroversial part of one’s resume. And as part of his work for Bush as the staff secretary Kavanaugh was working particularly close with “Bush’s Brain” Karl Rove:


    Kavanaugh, now President Trump’s nominee to the Supreme Court, had an ordinary-sounding title: staff secretary. But he wielded extraordinary influence as the adviser responsible for screening, reviewing and editing documents delivered to Bush, interviews and documents show.

    “Ultimately, the umpire was Brett,” said Karl Rove, a Bush adviser and one of the people Kavanaugh worked with closely as staff secretary.

    And this is why Kavanaugh stands out as being an unusually political Supreme Court nominee. Many justices have had some sort of involvement with politics before joining the high court, but none in recent memory are as much of a political animal of Kavanaugh. And a political animal for not just any administration but the George W. Bush administration. When you’re the former “intellectual umpire” of that administration that’s a pretty massive issue that needs to be addressed before you’re appointed to the Supreme Court:


    Many Supreme Court justices over the decades have held strong political views or been active in liberal or conservative causes. Justice Elena Kagan, a law professor, served as an associate counsel and adviser in the Clinton White House. Former Justice Abe Fortas privately advised President Lyndon B. Johnson on political matters. William Rehnquist was ­active in the Republican Party in Arizona before he became a ­justice.

    But no justice in recent memory has worked as intently as Kavanaugh at the highest levels of the nation’s political machinery, scholars said. His time as staff secretary, from 2003 to 2006, was the culmination of a political and legal apprenticeship that lasted more than a decade, enabling him to demonstrate his zeal for conservative principles and putting him on a path to the Supreme Court.

    Documents and interviews show that while Kavanaugh was not a policymaker, he was directly involved in helping the White House manage a wide array of sensitive matters, including the war on terrorism, the treatment of enemy combatants and warrantless wiretapping.

    “It put Kavanaugh at the center of every political and policy decision at the Bush White House,” said Peter Irons, professor emeritus at the University of California at San Diego and author of several books about the Supreme Court. “He is exactly the kind of person that the legal conservative movement wants on the court.”

    His tenure is now a source of controversy, because much of his work in the White House has been cloaked by presidential privilege. Republicans have declined to request records from that era, suggesting that they would not be revelatory.

    “He was more or less a traffic cop,” Senate Majority Whip John Cornyn (R-Tex.) said last month.

    So it should come as no surprise that the majority of the documents related to his work as Bush’s “intellectual umpire” aren’t being made available to the Democrats or the public during the nomination process. The official line from the Trump White House is that the only part of Kavanaugh’s past that’s worthy of review is his work as a judge. His work as George W. Bush’s intellectual umpire is apparently irrelevant:


    As the Senate Judiciary Committee prepares for confirmation hearings starting Sept. 4, much remains unknown about that significant stretch of Kavanaugh’s career.

    Most of the millions of documents relating to his White House service will not be available for review before his confirmation. The committee has received batches of records from the George W. Bush library, releasing tens of thousands of documents in recent weeks. But most relate to Kavanaugh’s years in the White House Counsel’s Office, before he became staff secretary, and have been devoid of telling detail. Democrats have complained they can’t properly take stock of ­Kavanaugh.

    “We asked for documents from Kavanaugh’s time as staff secretary because he admitted those years shaped his views as a judge, particularly with regard to issues of executive power,” Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) said in a ­statement.

    “We also need to know more about his involvement with controversial issues like torture, warrantless wiretapping and presidential signing statements,” Feinstein said. “He has a far more extensive record in politics than previous nominees. It’s critical that senators see the full picture to understand how those political positions influenced his current views.”

    White House spokesman Raj Shah said Kavanaugh has demonstrated his commitment to taking a judicious and fair-minded approach to the Supreme Court.

    “What will tell you most about the type of Supreme Court Justice he will make are the 307 opinions he wrote as a Judge on the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals, a dozen of which were affirmed by the Supreme Court, over the last 12 years,” Shah said in a statement. “His opinions are widely cited by judges, appointed by presidents of both parties, in courts across the country. They demonstrate independence and a fidelity to our laws and constitution.”

    But despite the refusal to release the bulk of the documents that cover Kavanaugh’s work during the Bush years, there are still hints from the available documents of the kind of work he was doing. And those hints point towards Kavanaugh influencing virtually every policy agenda of the Bush administration. As Karl Rove put it, “Virtually every piece of paper had to pass through the staff secretary’s hands” on the way to Bush’s desk. In that sense he really was Bush’s intellectual umpire:


    To find clues about Kavanaugh’s role as staff secretary, The Washington Post examined more than 2,000 pages of emails and other documents previously released by the Bush library, along with scores of emails contained in 191 pages of documents released last week by the Justice Department in response to a Freedom of Information Act request by Fix the Court, a group advocating for more transparency in the federal court system.

    The Bush library and Justice Department emails have been heavily redacted, with most of the content removed, as part of the government’s normal application of exemptions under the federal Freedom of Information Act or the Presidential Records Act. But combined with Kavanaugh’s public statements and writings, the email addresses and subject lines provide granularity to a composite portrait of him in the years he was staff secretary and before.

    Kavanaugh was responsible for managing the process that helped shape the president’s thinking and fueled the Bush administration agenda. “He was everywhere,” said Michael Gerson, a speechwriter in the Bush administration and now a syndicated columnist at The Post.

    Gerson, Rove and others said Kavanaugh was an honest broker, even as he conveyed competing ideas to the president.

    “Virtually every piece of paper had to pass through the staff secretary’s hands,” Rove said.

    So when the Bush/Rove-faction of the GOP continues to stand behind Kavanaugh despite the growing political damage his nomination is doing to the GOP don’t forget that they’re about to get Bush’s intellectual umpire on the Supreme Court! It’s a pretty massive prize.

    It’s also worth noting that a lawsuit to force the release of 100,000 of those unreleased Bush-administration Kavanaugh documents being put forward by Democratic Senator Jeff Merkely is slowly making its way through the courts. So it’s possible those documents will eventually be released. But if it does happen it probably won’t happen until after the nomination vote that’s supposed to happen soon.

    So don’t forget that while it’s abundantly clear that the GOP would prefer it if a recounting of Brett Kavanaugh’s drunken abusive school days were left out of the nomination process, there’s a much more recent chapter of Kavanaugh’s life they’re also trying to avoid talking about.

    Posted by Pterrafractyl | October 1, 2018, 2:50 pm
  4. There’s no shortage of questions raised by the confirmation of Brett Kavanaugh’s nomination as a Supreme Court justice. The fact that the Supreme Court now has the first clear hard right majority in decades raises basic questions about what, if anything, of the post-New Deal era of jurisprudence is going to survive the coming onslaught. It’s easy to forget that the right-wing oligarchy in the US has never viewed programs like Social Security and Medicare as constitutionally legitimate (let alone Obamacare) and has never given up on its decades-long struggle to overturn those laws through any means necessary, but it’s going to be a lot harder to forget these things now that the Supreme Court really is poised to become the ultimate right-wing ‘activist’ court. John Roberts is the new ‘swing’ vote. That’s how in peril the liberal legacies of the last 80 years are.

    And then there’s the clear possibility of the court becoming even more right-wing should something happen to one of the four remaining left-leaning justices. We could easily see a 6-3 far right majority before the end of Trump’s first term. And this, of course, is all happening in the context of the near total domination of the US government at federal and state levels by a Republican party that is infused with the spirit of fascism and white nationalism.

    So the long-term questions about the implications of this historic shift loom large. But perhaps the question that looms the largest in the immediate term is what kind of impact that is going to have on the 2018 mid-terms that are just a month away. After all, the fight over the multiple allegations of sexual assault leveled against Brett Kavanaugh has clearly caused a surge in Republican voter enthusiasm now that the Trump, the GOP, and the right-wing media complex all rallied around the idea that the accusations are completely baseless and part of a massive smear campaign and part of some sort of broader left-wing attack against all white men (Tucker Carlson actually suggested Kavanaugh’s nomination fight could spark a race war). It’s the kind of argument that has become a GOP specialty, so it’s no surprise that this narrative worked yet again.

    It’s still unclear if the party is going to be able to nurse kind of victimhood narrative over the next month now that Kavanaugh is confirmed. But all signs at this point indicate that the GOP is going to try to use that victimhood narrative as its best tool for keep that right-wing voter enthusiasm going into the November vote. And to some extent that logic makes sense: given the yawning ‘enthusiasm’ gap the GOP was suffering up until this point that was closed by the right-wing backlash against the Kavanaugh accusations, it’s pretty clear that the GOP has little to lose by continuing to stoke outrage with the Republican base by promoting the narrative that all of the allegations against Kavanaugh are part of a giant conspiracy to baselessly destroy a good, honorable man.

    And perhaps that will continue to be a successful tactic. But part of what’s so fascinating about the current political dynamic is that it’s a highly unstable dynamic in the sense that there’s still so much that isn’t known about Brett Kavanaugh’s background – including, but not limited to, the sexual assault accusations – and there’s nothing stopping more of that information from coming out over the next month and shaping that dynamic. For instance, it’s now become clear that the White House totally rigged the one week FBI investigation into the allegations. The New York Times just reported that Trump was about to give the FBI permission to investigate anyone but White House lawyer Don McGahn reportedly stopped him after warning that a full investigation could imperil Kavanaugh’s chances. And the FBI only interviewed 10 people, and that didn’t include Ford or Kavanaugh. And that report about what appears to be a joke FBI investigation came out before the vote to confirm Kavanaugh. It’s an example of the kind of new information that could come out and potentially shape how this issue is perceived over the next month and highlights how big a political gamble this is going to be for the GOP to nationalize the right-wing outrage over Kavanaugh’s nomination heading into the final stretch of the mid-terms.

    And yet, given the remarkable power of the right-wing media complex to sell pretty much any narrative they want to their audiences, it’s unclear what, if anything, could emerge about Kavanaugh that would puncture the ‘Kavanaugh was attack with smears and lies’ narrative that managed to so successfully fire up the right-wing based. Still, it’s very possible that left-wing and independent voters could become even motivated to vote as new information about Kavanaugh comes out. The political impact of Kavanaugh’s ascension to the Supreme Court remains a highly fluid situation.

    So given all that, it’s worth noting that there’s another unresolved issue over Kavanaugh that didn’t get much attention during the nomination process but could actually end up impacting the public perception of Kavanaugh in ways that change the public perception of the veracity of the sexual assault claims against him: the question of whether or not Kavanaugh lied to Congress over the role he may have played in a 2002 GOP scandal over the theft of Democratic documents from a congressional server, a.k.k the ‘Senate hacking scandal’. That’s the scandal surrounding Manual Miranda, the former Republican Senate counsel on the Judiciary Committee who noticed in 2002 that Democratic files – files containing information on strategies for how to deal with judicial nominations – stored on a shared server were accessible so he took the files. And Brett Kavanaugh, who was working as assistant to the President at the time and working on selecting judicial nominees, was allegedly given access to the files.

    These allegations of course came up during the nomination process and Kavanaugh of course denied any involvement in it. So if evidence emerges suggesting that Kavanaugh did, in fact, work with those stolen documents and knew they were stolen he could be charged with perjury. And in the context of a ‘he-said/she-said/she-said/she-said/she-said’ series of allegations over sexual harassment, an emerging perjury narrative probably isn’t going to help Kavanaugh’s case.

    So is there some new information that’s coming out about this Senate email scandal and Kavanaugh’s role? Maybe. That will depend on the speed of two Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) lawsuits working their way through the courts. Both are lawsuits to get access to currently unreleased documents from Kavanaugh’s time in the Bush White House and both are set to have new documents released in coming weeks. Which means we could see some scandalous disclosures about Kavanaugh hitting right before the mid-terms. Maybe. We’ll see. And release of the documents is still subject to White House approval, meaning this could easily start looking like a White House Kavanaugh cover-up.

    One of the lawsuits is pursued by the Electronic Privacy Information Center (EPIC). The other is by the Democratic Senators on the Judiciary Committee. Yes, even the Senators who had to vote on Kavanaugh weren’t given access to these documents. Documents that could have revealed whether or not Kavanaugh earlier perjured himself before them.

    So what do we know about these documents? Well, one ‘smoking gun’ in the documents is that there were a number of emails sent from Miranda to Kavanaugh shortly after the reports of Miranda’s theft of the Democrats’ documents. Yep, we have stories about the hacking scandal hitting the news, and then Miranda emails Kavanaugh. But we don’t know what those emails said because they were sent in December 2003, which was after Kavanaugh left the job of assistant to the president and moved on to become the staff secretary. And anything after his time as assistant to the president was deemed outside the scope of the documents that needed to be produced to the Senate Judiciary Committee. So we know Miranda sent Kavanaugh emails shortly after this scandal went public but Senators didn’t get access to the content of those emails due to a technicality caused by Kavanaugh shifting roles in the White House. And now these FOIA lawsuits are set to see the release of those emails in coming weeks.

    But, the release of these emails is still up to White House review. So we could easily see a situation where the White House refuses to release these emails, at least until after the mid-terms. They will no doubt incorporate it into the prevailing right-wing narrative and frame it as protecting Kavanaugh from a witch-hunt or something. But that whole situation really could unfold. Potentially right before the mid-terms. It’s a remarkable political situation and a big reason why the current political dynamic surrounding the nationalization of the Kavanaugh nomination as a political issue is such a big gamble:

    Yahoo News

    Lawsuits point to large trove of unreleased Kavanaugh White House documents

    Luppe B. Luppen Contributor
    ,Yahoo News•October 5, 2018

    New details have emerged about potentially thousands of Brett Kavanaugh’s White House emails and other records related to the Senate hacking scandal from early in the George W. Bush administration and other controversial subjects that have not been disclosed to the Senate, according to Democratic senators on the Judiciary Committee.

    The undisclosed documents, which date from Kavanaugh’s time in the Bush White House, are set to be produced in coming weeks as a result of two Freedom of Information Act lawsuits, one pursued by Democratic senators on the Judiciary Committee and another by an outside privacy group, the Electronic Privacy Information Center (EPIC). Release of the documents is still subject to White House approval and other consultations.

    The Senate hacking scandal involved a Republican Judiciary Committee aide, Manny Miranda, who, according to an official investigation, infiltrated the electronic files of Democrats on the committee with the help of a co-conspirator, James Lundell, and passed the intelligence on to other senators, the White House, and friendly opinion columnists over a period of years. The pilfered material contained, among other things, Democrats’ research and prepared questions for judicial nominees.

    With Kavanaugh facing a potential final confirmation vote over the weekend or early next week, the documents that are cleared for release by the FOIA lawsuits will likely emerge too late for senators to take them into account.

    “This highlights how little we know about Judge Kavanaugh’s record,” Sen. Patrick Leahy, D-Vt., said in a statement. “More than 90 percent of his White House records remain hidden. The fact that he appears to have had so many conversations about a topic that he denied having involvement with, under oath, raises even more questions,” Leahy continued, referring to the Senate hacking scandal.

    The tabulations provided to Democratic senators and EPIC by officials at the National Archives and Records Administration before the potential production of the documents show that potentially only a fraction of Kavanaugh’s correspondence related to several controversial subjects discussed at his confirmation hearings was made available to senators, according to Democrats on the committee. The tabulations indicate that the undisclosed documents concern the Bush-era Senate hacking scandal; Kavanaugh’s interactions with attorney John Yoo in the weeks following the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001; and Kavanaugh’s work on the USA Patriot Act and various domestic surveillance programs, airport screening programs and other privacy-related subjects.

    The tabulations for EPIC, which are detailed in the table included below, were drawn from a subset of the overall records the privacy group requested from the National Archives, according to Alan Butler, EPIC’s legal director. In negotiations with EPIC, the National Archives agreed to tabulate first the records from the Judiciary Committee’s request that it has identified as being eligible for release to the public and that are undergoing a final 60-day review by former President Bush and President Trump. It is these records, already identified by the National Archives for publication, that are reflected in table below. “This further underscores the fact that there is important information out there that is pending release,” Butler said. “It’s why we’ve called for the Senate to postpone the vote on Kavanaugh’s nomination.”

    Democratic aides compared the National Archives’ totals for these subjects to what they received shortly before the Judiciary Committee’s hearings, through an unprecedented process overseen by President George W. Bush’s private lawyer and Kavanaugh’s former deputy, William A. Burck. The Democratic aides found that the National Archives’ numbers are significantly higher in some cases. “However, Butler, EPIC’s legal director, pointed out that these documents had been identified as ready for public release by the National Archives, so he found it unlikely that they contained significant classified or privileged material.

    Because the documents have not yet come to light, there is no way to tell how many are merely duplicates of previously produced records. However, previous productions from Burck have included thousands of duplicate records, according to Democratic aides. It is also uncertain how many documents were withheld due to legitimate claims of constitutional privilege or because they contained classified or highly sensitive personal information.

    [see Table show number of records currently scheduled to be released by the National Archives vs the much smaller number of documents already made available to Senate Judiciary Committee Democrats]

    While he was not willing to discuss the specific categories of documents identified by Democrats, Burck provided a statement listing the reasons why documents were held back.

    “As we have informed the Senate Judiciary Committee, we gave to the Committee every page of every document given to us by the National Archives and Records Administration (NARA), except personal documents — which the Committee did not request and which NARA agreed should not be produced — and constitutionally privileged documents identified by the Department of Justice — which the current Administration directed that we not provide,” he wrote in a statement to Yahoo News. “We also excluded documents that were automatically removed from our review using industry-standard software, because they were exact duplicates of other documents that we did review; documents that were dated on or after July 7, 2003, when Judge Kavanaugh left the White House Counsel’s Office; State Department documents dating from the 1970s that were in Judge Kavanaugh’s White House Counsel’s Office hard copy files; documents with technical issues such that they could not be processed by our third-party vendor and thus were referred back to NARA to determine if NARA could provide reviewable copies; and documents which were either redacted or, in a few cases, withheld entirely on the basis that they contained personal privacy information, such as Social Security numbers, cell phone numbers, private email addresses, and personal medical or financial information.”

    Democratic senators are focused on what their aides say may be as many as 1,800 undisclosed records related to the Senate hacking scandal.

    Before Kavanaugh’s confirmation hearing, Democrats received 1,721 Kavanaugh documents related to the scandal, which they used to call into question Kavanaugh’s previous testimony during his confirmation hearings for the D.C. Circuit. At those hearings, Kavanaugh said under oath that he had no knowledge of receiving the purloined documents from Miranda, the Judiciary Committee aide at the center of the Senate hacking scandal, either in real time or in retrospect. The National Archives’ tabulations indicate that there are approximately 3,500 total records related to Kavanaugh’s dealings with Miranda.

    Democrats are particularly interested in indications in the National Archives’ tabulations that there are a handful of undisclosed emails from Miranda to Kavanaugh at the time that the committee aide’s misconduct came to light, in December 2003, which they say contain the word “Lundell,” the surname of the obscure staffer who conspired with Miranda in the hacking scandal. It is not confirmed that the December 2003 emails discussed the hacking scandal, but Democratic aides speaking on background noted that Kavanaugh and Lundell were not friends and, since Kavanaugh had left the White House counsel’s office by December 2003, he had no obvious reason — other than the hacking issue — to correspond with Miranda about Lundell.

    “Judge Kavanaugh owes us some explanation about why he was corresponding with Manny Miranda about Jason Lundell in the month after their apparent criminal conspiracy was exposed,” Sen. Richard Blumenthal, D-Conn., said in a statement. “How can there be a plausible and innocent explanation for why almost 2,000 communications between Kavanaugh and Miranda were kept hidden from the Senate Judiciary Committee? These facts might be written off as coincidence if only Judge Kavanaugh hadn’t twice tried to mislead the Senate Judiciary Committee about his relationship with Miranda and his receipt of stolen documents.”

    Because the December 2003 emails were sent to Kavanaugh after he transitioned to the staff secretary role, they would have been outside the scope of documents produced by Burck to the Senate Judiciary Committee. Kavanaugh did not appear to reply to any of the emails, the tabulations show.

    One of the first controversies of the Kavanaugh hearings was fought over the document production process. Kavanaugh had a voluminous record of documents from his six years of public service in the Bush White House, first as an associate counsel in the White House counsel’s office and then, after July 2003, as staff secretary. Typically, a judicial nominee’s White House records would be requisitioned by the Judiciary Committee directly from the National Archives using a provision of the Presidential Records Act. The documents would be gathered and screened for classified information and privileged material in a process coordinated by the archivists, nonpolitical civil servants.

    Judiciary Committee Chairman Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa, made his first controversial move by requesting only Kavanaugh’s records for his time in the counsel’s office, excluding his years of service as staff secretary. In early August, the National Archives wrote to Grassley that this limited request could not be completed before the end of October, significantly later than the Republicans wanted to hold Kavanaugh’s confirmation hearings.

    Notwithstanding the National Archives’ timeline, Republicans were still able to hold Kavanaugh’s hearings in early September because they had developed a new strategy for producing documents, one that would controversially rely on a former president and an outside lawyer.

    Under a separate provision of the Presidential Records Act, a former president is permitted to request records for his own or his representative’s use. This provision is typically understood to allow the president to review his administration’s records for personal pursuits, like writing a memoir. Republicans arranged to have former president George W. Bush and his public records lawyer, Burck, invoke it in Kavanaugh’s aid. Bush would request the documents, and Burck’s legal team would coordinate the process of reviewing them for privileged information and turn them over to the Judiciary Committee.

    While this approach was demonstrably faster, Democrats heavily criticized it throughout the summer. They objected to placing in private hands the determination of which documents elected senators would be able to review and also pointed to potential conflicts of interest. Burck is a lawyer for several current and former Trump White House officials in Robert Mueller’s special counsel investigation, and he also worked inside the Bush White House as Kavanaugh’s deputy staff secretary.

    Burck managed the production before and during Kavanaugh’s hearings, with attorneys from the Department of Justice assisting him in determining which documents to withhold on claims of executive privilege and which to produce on the condition that they be maintained as “committee confidential.” The documents identified in the National Archives tabulations could include those withheld by Burck.

    While it’s far from clear how important the undisclosed documents could be, and doubtful the mere prospect of their future disclosure will sway any votes, if new information emerges about divisive subjects after the Senate has already voted to confirm Kavanaugh, it could cast a permanent cloud on Kavanaugh’s service on the Supreme Court.

    “If this process were designed to find the truth, we would be answering those questions before rushing to a vote,” Sen. Leahy said.

    ———-

    “Lawsuits point to large trove of unreleased Kavanaugh White House documents” by Luppe B. Luppen; Yahoo News; 10/05/2018

    “While it’s far from clear how important the undisclosed documents could be, and doubtful the mere prospect of their future disclosure will sway any votes, if new information emerges about divisive subjects after the Senate has already voted to confirm Kavanaugh, it could cast a permanent cloud on Kavanaugh’s service on the Supreme Court.”

    Yep, while it’s far from clear how important the undisclosed documents could have been for Kavanaugh’s nomination process because that process was clearly a farce, there’s nothing stopping the eventual release of these documents from casting a permanent cloud on Kavanaugh as a Supreme Court justice. An eventual release could happen in coming weeks thanks to the two FOIA lawsuits:


    New details have emerged about potentially thousands of Brett Kavanaugh’s White House emails and other records related to the Senate hacking scandal from early in the George W. Bush administration and other controversial subjects that have not been disclosed to the Senate, according to Democratic senators on the Judiciary Committee.

    The undisclosed documents, which date from Kavanaugh’s time in the Bush White House, are set to be produced in coming weeks as a result of two Freedom of Information Act lawsuits, one pursued by Democratic senators on the Judiciary Committee and another by an outside privacy group, the Electronic Privacy Information Center (EPIC). Release of the documents is still subject to White House approval and other consultations.

    So will this release happen before the mid-terms? We’ll see, but if it doesn’t happen before the mid-terms there’s nothing stopping it from becoming a campaign issue. After all, if the GOP is going to run on outrage over the accusations against Kavanaugh, raising this issue over possible perjury becomes a natural response by Democrats. So this really could suddenly become a national issue.

    And part of what makes this a potential campaign issue is the fact that the few facts we do know just look so suspicious. Kavanaugh denied, under oath, have any involvement with the stolen documents and yet we know he suddenly received a bunch of emails from Miranda shortly after the story went public. It just looks horrible and the only way to truly clear it up is to release the documents:


    The Senate hacking scandal involved a Republican Judiciary Committee aide, Manny Miranda, who, according to an official investigation, infiltrated the electronic files of Democrats on the committee with the help of a co-conspirator, James Lundell, and passed the intelligence on to other senators, the White House, and friendly opinion columnists over a period of years. The pilfered material contained, among other things, Democrats’ research and prepared questions for judicial nominees.

    With Kavanaugh facing a potential final confirmation vote over the weekend or early next week, the documents that are cleared for release by the FOIA lawsuits will likely emerge too late for senators to take them into account.

    “This highlights how little we know about Judge Kavanaugh’s record,” Sen. Patrick Leahy, D-Vt., said in a statement. “More than 90 percent of his White House records remain hidden. The fact that he appears to have had so many conversations about a topic that he denied having involvement with, under oath, raises even more questions,” Leahy continued, referring to the Senate hacking scandal.

    So how many emails and documents might get released in this process? As many as 1,800 released to the hacking scandal alone. And some of those emails sent by Miranda to Kavanaugh apparently contain the work “Lundell”. And Lundell That happens to be the name of an obscure staffer who conspired with Miranda. It just looks so damn suspicious:


    Democratic senators are focused on what their aides say may be as many as 1,800 undisclosed records related to the Senate hacking scandal.

    Before Kavanaugh’s confirmation hearing, Democrats received 1,721 Kavanaugh documents related to the scandal, which they used to call into question Kavanaugh’s previous testimony during his confirmation hearings for the D.C. Circuit. At those hearings, Kavanaugh said under oath that he had no knowledge of receiving the purloined documents from Miranda, the Judiciary Committee aide at the center of the Senate hacking scandal, either in real time or in retrospect. The National Archives’ tabulations indicate that there are approximately 3,500 total records related to Kavanaugh’s dealings with Miranda.

    Democrats are particularly interested in indications in the National Archives’ tabulations that there are a handful of undisclosed emails from Miranda to Kavanaugh at the time that the committee aide’s misconduct came to light, in December 2003, which they say contain the word “Lundell,” the surname of the obscure staffer who conspired with Miranda in the hacking scandal. It is not confirmed that the December 2003 emails discussed the hacking scandal, but Democratic aides speaking on background noted that Kavanaugh and Lundell were not friends and, since Kavanaugh had left the White House counsel’s office by December 2003, he had no obvious reason — other than the hacking issue — to correspond with Miranda about Lundell.

    “Judge Kavanaugh owes us some explanation about why he was corresponding with Manny Miranda about Jason Lundell in the month after their apparent criminal conspiracy was exposed,” Sen. Richard Blumenthal, D-Conn., said in a statement. “How can there be a plausible and innocent explanation for why almost 2,000 communications between Kavanaugh and Miranda were kept hidden from the Senate Judiciary Committee? These facts might be written off as coincidence if only Judge Kavanaugh hadn’t twice tried to mislead the Senate Judiciary Committee about his relationship with Miranda and his receipt of stolen documents.”

    And the process of releasing the documents looks super suspicious too. Using an unprecedented process, the documents to be released are being reviewed by William A. Burck, who happens to be George W. Bush’s private lawyer and Kavanaugh’s former deputy. You almost couldn’t come up with a more suspicious-looking scenario:


    The tabulations provided to Democratic senators and EPIC by officials at the National Archives and Records Administration before the potential production of the documents show that potentially only a fraction of Kavanaugh’s correspondence related to several controversial subjects discussed at his confirmation hearings was made available to senators, according to Democrats on the committee. The tabulations indicate that the undisclosed documents concern the Bush-era Senate hacking scandal; Kavanaugh’s interactions with attorney John Yoo in the weeks following the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001; and Kavanaugh’s work on the USA Patriot Act and various domestic surveillance programs, airport screening programs and other privacy-related subjects.

    The tabulations for EPIC, which are detailed in the table included below, were drawn from a subset of the overall records the privacy group requested from the National Archives, according to Alan Butler, EPIC’s legal director. In negotiations with EPIC, the National Archives agreed to tabulate first the records from the Judiciary Committee’s request that it has identified as being eligible for release to the public and that are undergoing a final 60-day review by former President Bush and President Trump. It is these records, already identified by the National Archives for publication, that are reflected in table below. “This further underscores the fact that there is important information out there that is pending release,” Butler said. “It’s why we’ve called for the Senate to postpone the vote on Kavanaugh’s nomination.”

    Democratic aides compared the National Archives’ totals for these subjects to what they received shortly before the Judiciary Committee’s hearings, through an unprecedented process overseen by President George W. Bush’s private lawyer and Kavanaugh’s former deputy, William A. Burck. The Democratic aides found that the National Archives’ numbers are significantly higher in some cases. “However, Butler, EPIC’s legal director, pointed out that these documents had been identified as ready for public release by the National Archives, so he found it unlikely that they contained significant classified or privileged material.

    Notwithstanding the National Archives’ timeline, Republicans were still able to hold Kavanaugh’s hearings in early September because they had developed a new strategy for producing documents, one that would controversially rely on a former president and an outside lawyer.

    Under a separate provision of the Presidential Records Act, a former president is permitted to request records for his own or his representative’s use. This provision is typically understood to allow the president to review his administration’s records for personal pursuits, like writing a memoir. Republicans arranged to have former president George W. Bush and his public records lawyer, Burck, invoke it in Kavanaugh’s aid. Bush would request the documents, and Burck’s legal team would coordinate the process of reviewing them for privileged information and turn them over to the Judiciary Committee.

    While this approach was demonstrably faster, Democrats heavily criticized it throughout the summer. They objected to placing in private hands the determination of which documents elected senators would be able to review and also pointed to potential conflicts of interest. Burck is a lawyer for several current and former Trump White House officials in Robert Mueller’s special counsel investigation, and he also worked inside the Bush White House as Kavanaugh’s deputy staff secretary.

    Burck managed the production before and during Kavanaugh’s hearings, with attorneys from the Department of Justice assisting him in determining which documents to withhold on claims of executive privilege and which to produce on the condition that they be maintained as “committee confidential.” The documents identified in the National Archives tabulations could include those withheld by Burck.

    And the only reason these highly suspicious looking emails from Miranda to Kavanaugh haven’t already been released is because only documents related to Kavanaugh’s work as Assistant to the President had to be released. For some reason his work as staff secretary didn’t warrant Senate review:


    Because the December 2003 emails were sent to Kavanaugh after he transitioned to the staff secretary role, they would have been outside the scope of documents produced by Burck to the Senate Judiciary Committee. Kavanaugh did not appear to reply to any of the emails, the tabulations show.

    One of the first controversies of the Kavanaugh hearings was fought over the document production process. Kavanaugh had a voluminous record of documents from his six years of public service in the Bush White House, first as an associate counsel in the White House counsel’s office and then, after July 2003, as staff secretary. Typically, a judicial nominee’s White House records would be requisitioned by the Judiciary Committee directly from the National Archives using a provision of the Presidential Records Act. The documents would be gathered and screened for classified information and privileged material in a process coordinated by the archivists, nonpolitical civil servants.

    Judiciary Committee Chairman Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa, made his first controversial move by requesting only Kavanaugh’s records for his time in the counsel’s office, excluding his years of service as staff secretary. In early August, the National Archives wrote to Grassley that this limited request could not be completed before the end of October, significantly later than the Republicans wanted to hold Kavanaugh’s confirmation hearings.

    All in all, it’s looking like a highly suspicious situation. A highly suspicious situation that strongly points towards perjury. And don’t forget that the Senate ‘hacking’ scandal is only one of the potential issues where Kavanaugh may have perjured himself that could be revealed by the release of these documents.

    So that’s all going to be a politically fascinating situation to watch play out. Will the White House stonewall the release of these documents until after the mid-terms and will the Democrats manage to turn that into a political liability? Might the GOP successfully frame questions of perjury as an extension of the ‘Democrats will do anything to destroy a good man’s reputation’ narrative and keep their base fired up? Who knows, blocking the release of these documents to ‘stop the destruction of Brett’ could become Trump’s new rallying cry.

    Another general question raised by Kavanaugh’s ascension to the Supreme Court is what the impact of potentially permanent large gender-gap in voting preferences might do to American politics. Because one thing that’s empirically clear at this point is that if the GOP has determined that a voting demographic is overwhelmingly going to support Democrats (like minorities and urban voters) the GOP is going to do everything in its power to restrict that demographic from being able to successfully vote. Gerrymandering, voting restrictions on felons, and a growing array of rule limited voting access are all well-honed voter suppression techniques targeting left-wing constituencies at this point. But they aren’t techniques that can clearly target women. So if we enter into an era of a permanent large gender-gap, where women overwhelmingly net oppose the GOP, how are female voters going to be systematically suppressed? We know the GOP is going to try to do it so how are they going to go about it? That’s probably a question that’s going to be increasingly important to ask going forward.

    Posted by Pterrafractyl | October 6, 2018, 2:19 pm

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