Donald Trump smiles at left as former House Speaker Newt Gingrich talks to media after their meeting in New York, Dec. 5, 2011. 
Photo by Seth Wenig/AP

Gingrich gives away the game on Trump and Kavanaugh

The Washington Post hosted a Q&A with former House Speaker Newt Gingrich yesterday, and when the discussion turned to Donald Trump’s tax returns, Karen Tumulty noted that if Democrats gain power in Congress after the congressional midterms, they’re likely to subpoena the president’s materials. She asked Gingrich about his expectations in the event of such a fight, and the Republican responded:

“Then [Democrats will] be trapped into appealing to the Supreme Court, and we’ll see whether or not the Kavanaugh fight was worth it.”

I wasn’t in the room for the event, but one journalist who was on hand said there were “audible gasps in audience.”

And given the circumstances, that’s an understandable reaction. Gingrich didn’t make the case that Trump deserves to keep his secret tax returns hidden from scrutiny, just as he ignored a status quo that empowers lawmakers to obtain the materials.

Rather, according to the president’s high-profile ally, it’s simply assumed that Trump would defy Congress and Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh would intervene on the White House’s behalf, doing Trump’s bidding from the nation’s highest court. The fight over the Republican judge will have been “worth it,” Gingrich argued, if Kavanaugh comes through as a shield for the president.

Before Kavanaugh confronted allegations of sexual misconduct, Democrats invested considerable energy into making the case that his entire nomination was about protecting Trump. The White House needed a loyal ally on the Supreme Court, so the president nominated a judge who was on record arguing that a president deserves sweeping protections from scrutiny.

To this extent, Gingrich seemed to give away the game yesterday, admitting that he sees Kavanaugh as a figure whom Republicans fought for in order for him to serve a partisan purpose.

File this away for future reference.