Brett Kavanaugh was officially sworn in as a Supreme Court justice over the weekend, but the White House wanted to do it again in a ceremonial event for the cameras. Donald Trump, reading prepared text from his trusted teleprompter, began the festivities with remarks directed specifically to the new justice.
"On behalf of our nation, I want to apologize to Brett and the entire Kavanaugh family for the terrible pain and suffering you have been forced to endure," Trump said, adding that the judge was "proven innocent."
Actually, no, he wasn't. There was no trial, and the available information never exonerated the accused. The president, as is his habit, simply imagined what he wanted to be true and then publicly declared his wish to be fact -- effectively telling Republicans what he expects them to believe forevermore.
The Kavanaugh nomination started with bogus rhetoric; it seems oddly fitting that it would end the same way.
After Trump's remarks, the Republican jurist expressed his gratitude.
"Mr. President, thank you for the great honor of appointing me to serve as a Justice of the Supreme Court. I've seen firsthand your deep appreciation for the vital role of the American judiciary. I am grateful for your steadfast, unwavering support throughout this process. And I'm grateful to you and Mrs. Trump for the exceptional, overwhelming courtesy you have extended to my family and me."
The idea that this president has a "deep appreciation for the vital role of the American judiciary" is belied by Trump's frequent condemnations of federal courts, including his assertion last year that the American judicial system "is broken."
Nevertheless, Kavanaugh proceeded to thank Mike Pence, Mitch McConnell, and several GOP senators -- he added West Virginia's Joe Machin to the mix -- before also singling out White House Counsel Don McGahn, who helped shield much of Kavanaugh's record from review during the confirmation process.
It's almost as if a new partnership has been forged.
There have long been concerns about Kavanaugh's capacity for independence. He spent a chunk of his career as a Republican lawyer, for example, and when George W. Bush first nominated him for the federal bench, the American Bar Association questioned his political biases.
More recently, those concerns grew far more serious. Kavanaugh not only turned to Republican-friendly news outlets to defend himself from sexual misconduct allegations, he also delivered stridently partisan remarks to the Senate Judiciary Committee, concocting a conspiracy theory involving Democratic senators and the Clintons.
Last night, he seemed eager to take a victory lap with his pals in the White House who made sure he received the promotion he was looking for.
Something Michael Beschloss told Rachel on Friday night resonated with me: "Compared to Clarence Thomas in terms of the relationship with the president who selected him, Clarence Thomas had a courtly relationship with George H.W. Bush, but Kavanaugh has been spending weeks at the White House, weeks closeted with Donald Trump's people trying to get this nomination through. And he goes to court in a situation in which he is going to be very indebted to Donald Trump."
That's not only true, it's also unsettling.