“This was long before there was a Russia investigation and long before Donald Trump was president, so I think those who are trying to draw a link here are missing the timeline,” Ms. Collins said. “But nevertheless it’s an issue that I certainly will raise with him.”
Democrats hope that more issues will arise as senators comb through Judge Kavanaugh’s writings and opinions. The nominee’s paper trail is so long that Rod J. Rosenstein, the deputy attorney general, has asked federal prosecutors to help review the judge’s government documents to speed the confirmation process, according to a letter obtained by The New York Times on Wednesday.
The Democrats’ argument on presidential power may not sway Republican senators, but it will resonate with voters, said Geoff Garin, a Democratic pollster.
“Voters, including many independent voters and some Republican voters, care deeply about maintaining the Supreme Court as an independent check and balance on the power of the president,” Mr. Garin said. “Our polling in red states shows that voters would approve of their senator voting against confirmation if he or she believed that the nominee would weaken the court’s role as providing an independent check and balance.”
The articles grew not only out of Judge Kavanaugh’s experiences working for Mr. Starr, but also his service to former President George W. Bush. They are entering the public discourse just as Robert S. Mueller III, the special counsel, has suggested he may subpoena the president as part of his inquiry into whether the Trump campaign colluded with Russians to influence the 2016 election, and whether Mr. Trump obstructed justice.
“Whether the Constitution allows indictment of a sitting president is debatable,” Judge Kavanaugh wrote in the Georgetown Law Journal in 1998. He proposed that Congress adopt legislation specifying that the president “is not subject to indictment or information under the laws of the United States while he serves as president.”
In 2009, writing in the Minnesota Law Review, he argued that civil suits and criminal investigations are a burdensome distraction for a president: “Like civil suits, criminal investigations take the president’s focus away from his or her responsibilities to the people. And a president who is concerned about an ongoing criminal investigation is almost inevitably going to do a worse job as president.”