Picture it: the White House, 1995.
A cadre of economic advisors had advised President Bill Clinton against vetoing a bill aimed at stopping frivolous securities fraud lawsuits. Clinton asked the advice of his new legal adviser, Elena Kagan.
She analyzed the legislation and came to the conclusion that the bill would not only halt frivolous suits, but also meritorious securities fraud actions by shareholders. Bucking the economic team, she recommended that the president veto the measure.
“There she was, in her mid-30s starting out in her career, with the entire economic team, all of them against her position, and she knew it,” Clinton told The New York Times last week, recalling Kagan’s first White House presentation. “She stood there and defended her conclusion. It was very impressive. She was composed, direct and totally unfazed that all those guys wanted a different outcome.”
Clinton’s comments came as lawmakers and the media pored over emails from Kagan’s White House tenure released by Clinton’s presidential library on Friday. Now most of the 160,000 pages of documents identified by the library on the Supreme Court nominee have been released. And Kagan has emerged, for the most part, unscathed from the scrutiny one week before her confirmation hearings are set to begin.
And that, according to the Associated Press, was by design. Obama administration officials, working with Clinton, have worked to ensure that Kagan’s involvement with more controversial issues that could provide fodder for critics of her nomination remain shaded from public view. Those sensitive subjects include the Paula Jones sexual harassment lawsuit that led to Clinton’s impeachment.
Meanwhile, the current justices of the Supreme Court are set to release more opinions this morning. Among the issues yet to be decided this term is whether public and private officials can face criminal action for depriving their “honest services” to the public or to their employers. We’ll update newsworthy developments here later this morning.
In other news,
Emanuel out? The London Daily Telegraph reports that White House Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel is expected to leave his job after the midterm elections because he is fed up with the “idealism” of President Barack Obama’s closest advisers. (Fox News)
Too soon to say the f-word: Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell said it’s still too soon to say whether Republicans might try to filibuster Kagan’s nomination. (AP)
Slow claims process: BP has paid less than 12 percent of claims submitted by individuals and businesses for damage caused the Gulf oil spill, according to the House Judiciary Committee. (AP)
K Street help for BP: Meanwhile, the company is enlisting the help of a high-priced lobbyists and consultants to help weather the firestorm over the massive spill. (Washington Post)