Brett Kavanaugh, the federal judge who is the president’s nominee for Anthony Kennedy’s seat on the U.S. Supreme Court, played a key role in the Vince Foster investigation.
The death of Hillary and Bill Clinton’s White House lawyer has spawned legions of conspiracy theories. Kavanaugh, who served in the George W. Bush administration and who helped Ken Starr write the Starr Report into Bill Clinton, was in the middle of some of the 1990s’ most dramatic controversies involving the Clintons. Among them: The death of Vince Foster, which was ruled a suicide.
Here’s what you need to know:
1. Kavanaugh Was in Charge of an Investigation Into Vince Foster’s Death
Illinois Democratic Sen. Dick Durbin once called Brett Kavanaugh the “Zelig or Forrest Gump of Republican politics…whether it’s Elian Gonzalez or the Starr Report, you are there.” Add Vince Foster’s death to that list.
According to The Washington Post, Kavanaugh “was tasked in 1994 with investigating the death of Clinton’s deputy counsel, Vincent Foster.”
Kavanaugh earned this role because he worked in the office of Ken Starr. “Kavanaugh and the rest of Starr’s investigators concluded that it was indeed a suicide,” Vox reported of Foster’s death.
The New York Times concurred, reporting, “Working for Mr. Starr, Judge Kavanaugh concluded that Mr. Foster had in fact killed himself.”
2. Kavanaugh’s Paper Trail Includes Documents on Vincent Foster’s Death
One issue with Brett Kavanaugh’s nomination is the extensive nature of his paper trail. In addition to working on the Foster case, he helped Starr with the investigation and impeachment of Bill Clinton, even helping author the Starr Report. Furthermore, he served in the administration of former President George W. Bush before Bush named Kavanaugh to the federal bench.
All that has given critics and supporters a lot of paper to dig through. Among those papers are some documents on Vince Foster’s death, according to Politico. The site reports that Kavanaugh compiled about 20,000 documents during his tenure with Starr, although they deal with many topics.
Here is the government manifest listing the documents in the archives.
Here are some of the Vince Foster documents that Politico pulled out of the Kavanaugh records:
- Graphic notes from the police sergeant who responded to the scene. The documents contain such notations as “no note/no keys/no wallet.”
- Bills and telephone records from Foster’s stay at a hotel shortly before his death. He made a large number of calls.
- Grand jury testimony by White House Counsel Bernard Nussbaum relating to a call from Clinton adviser Susan Thomases after Foster died.
3. Kavanaugh Argued That Foster’s Lawyer Should Turn Over His Notes
The only case that Kavanaugh argued before the U.S. Supreme Court dealt with Vince Foster’s death and attorney-client privilege questions. Kavanaugh had joined Starr’s office after graduating from Yale Law School.
According to Vox, Kavanaugh wanted to force Foster’s lawyer to hand over his notes “on their conversation shortly before Foster’s death.” However, the Supreme Court disagreed in a 6-3 decision, saying the release was prevented by attorney-client privilege.
Kavanaugh argued that the attorney-client privilege Foster enjoyed ended with his death, according to The New York Times.
4. Conspiracy Theorists Have Trashed Brett Kavanaugh for His Role in the Vince Foster Death Investigation
Conspiracy theory websites have sprouted up to trash Brett Kavanaugh for supposedly “covering up” Vince Foster’s “murder,” although the death was ruled a suicide.
Roger Stone, who once worked as an adviser to President Donald Trump (and has a long and controversial career in Republican politics), is among those making the claims via Alex Jones’ infamous Infowars site.
President Trump himself once declared Foster’s death “very fishy,” saying, Foster “knew everything that was going on, and then all of a sudden he committed suicide,” according to Vox.
5. Vince Foster Had Long Ties to the Clintons Going Back to Their Years in Little Rock
Who was Vince Foster? He was a close friend of the Clintons who had followed them to Washington from Little Rock, where he worked as an attorney and, according to Vox, “lived across the street from Bill Clinton when they were very young, and who was later responsible for hiring Hillary Clinton at the Rose Law Firm.”
A 1994 article in the Washington Post on Foster’s death being declared a suicide described his depression in the final days, “As depression consumed him, Vince Foster found it hard to eat, to sleep. He could not concentrate at work. His sense of humor dried up. His heart pounded and his stomach boiled.”
First, Special counsel Robert B. Fiske Jr. ruled Foster’s death in Fort Marcy Park a suicide. According to The Post, that investigation involved “four lawyers, five physicians, seven FBI agents, approximately 125 witnesses; also DNA tests, microscopes and lasers.” The article reports that Foster’s depression and anxiety had escalated in Washington D.C. due to the turmoil in and outside of the Clinton White House. He committed suicide by shooting himself with a revolver, according to The Post.