President Donald Trump’s advisers are increasingly viewing his ongoing support for embattled Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh as a threat to his presidency, Vanity Fair reported on Monday.
While in New York attending a United Nations summit, Trump reaffirmed his faith in Kavanaugh, who is facing allegations of sexual misconduct by at least three different women.
Trump has said publicly he is with Kavanaugh “all the way.” Privately, however, the president “is becoming increasingly frustrated by being mired in a deteriorating political situation beyond his control,” Gabriel Sherman writes.
According to one Republican close to the president, Sherman says, “Trump allies are imploring him to cut Kavanaugh loose for the sake of saving Republicans’ electoral chances in the midterms.”
Kavanaugh’s fledgling nomination is rocking Republican inner circles as concerns mount over the potential of Kavanaugh being voted down. Party members are worried if the Senate fails to confirm Kavanaugh, “demoralized Republicans will stay home in November, and Democrats will take the House and the Senate and initiate impeachment proceedings.”
If Democrats manage to retake both chambers of Congress, and they have the votes to impeach and convict Trump, his presidency will effectively be over.
“The stakes are that high,” the source told Sherman. Another Republican adviser said: “Trump is very worried now, and is finally waking up that it’s the end of his presidency if he loses the Senate.”
Sherman says key allies of the president are pushing him to withdraw Kavanaugh’s nomination and replace him with Judge Amy Coney Barrett of the United States Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit.
“Some in the White House think you can only appoint a woman now,” a former administration official told Sherman. One other source said: “Democrats won’t be able to pivot fast enough to attack her, since she’s a woman.”
Trump is also said to be looking for a way to distract the public from the Kavanaugh story, Sherman says, providing a possible basis of rumors that Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein had resigned, which shook Washington on Monday morning.
One source reportedly said “Trump decided that firing Rosenstein would knock Kavanaugh out of the news,” writes Sherman, “potentially saving his nomination and Republicans’ chances for keeping the Senate.”
“The strategy was to try and do something really big,” the source said.
Early Monday afternoon, White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders announced that any decision on Rosenstein’s fate will come on Thursday. Trump and Rosenstein are scheduled to meet at the White House following Trump’s return from New York.
“At the request of Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein, he and President Trump had an extended conversation to discuss the recent news stories,” Sanders said in a statement. “Because the President is at the United Nations General Assembly and has a full schedule with leaders from around the world, they will meet on Thursday when the President returns to Washington, D.C.”
Rosenstein oversees Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation into the Russian attack on the 2016 election and whether Trump obstructed justice when he fired FBI Director James Comey in May 2017.