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 infighting broke out over the pick, with “whisper campaigns” calling Brett Kavanaugh the “low-energy Jeb Bush pick,” according to National Review.
Bush praised the selection.
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.”
You can watch video of the hearing here.
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.”