Judge Brett M. Kavanaugh made a fateful decision over the summer in accepting a White House nomination for a seat on the Supreme Court. Though President Trump had attacked the country’s judiciary, undermined the rule of law and otherwise showed no understanding of how the law works, Kavanaugh said this upon accepting his nomination: “No president has ever consulted more widely, or talked with more people from more backgrounds, to seek input about a Supreme Court nomination.”

That hogwash utterance bound Kavanaugh more closely to Trump than he ever needed. With the association comes slime.

Following an allegation that Kavanaugh sexually assaulted a girl during his high school years in Maryland, Trump has taken to defending his nominee. He’s an “extraordinary man, I think he’s a man of great intellect, as I’ve been telling you, and he has an unblemished record,” Trump said on Wednesday in remarks to reporters. Those remarks, of course, came in response to a sexual-assault allegation from Christine Blasey Ford, a professor at Palo Alto University in California. Trump has stood by his nominee and  bemoaned the inconvenience to Kavanaugh. “This is a very tough thing for him and his family,” the president said.

A Supreme Court nominee couldn’t ask for a more dubious character reference than this president of the United States.

It’s unclear just what evidence Trump is citing for his “extraordinary man” comment. But consider: Trump had 30 years of friendship with Bill O’Reilly — the disgraced former King of Cable News who anchored “The O’Reilly Factor” on Fox News, to the dismay of his less-rated rivals at other networks. Who knows how deeply into O’Reilly’s dark soul Trump may have glimpsed. Yet, just after the New York Times revealed that five women had received big-money settlements after making harassment complaints against O’Reilly, Trump told the newspaper: “Personally, I think he shouldn’t have settled. Because you should have taken it all the way; I don’t think Bill did anything wrong. I think he’s a person I know well. He is a good person.”

This “good person” would subsequently lose his job at Fox News over the scandal, only to be double-disgraced months later when further revelations about his conduct toward women surfaced.

As Slate points out, Trump — who himself has been credibly accused of sexual assault — called the late Fox News chief Roger Ailes, credibly accused of harassing a platoon of women, a “very, very good person.”

These dreadful people are part the New York-based media elite, a group that has long stirred Trump’s obsessions. Kavanaugh, on the other hand, is a federal judge and longstanding member of Washington’s permanent ruling class.

It’s all the same to Trump, of course. If the goal is to boost his Supreme Court nominee, he would spew an over-the-top compliment with a scope exceeding his personal familiarity. Like all presidential utterances, this one — which took place just before Trump flew to North Carolina to assess damage from Hurricane Florence — was widely distributed and ultimately devoid of impact.

That’s just the way it is these days, as the media learns how to handle the comments of a president who, when he isn’t lying, is almost assuredly blowing smoke. Last week, Helene Cooper of the New York Times wrote a deeply reported piece on clashes between the president and Defense Secretary Jim Mattis. In the penultimate paragraph, the piece reported:

Mr. Trump, at the moment, is publicly standing by his defense secretary. “He’ll stay right there,” the president told reporters last week when asked about Mr. Mattis’s comments in Mr. Woodward’s book. “We’re very happy with him. We’re having victories people don’t even know about.”

The answer to that question is that President Trump’s input has no bearing on the search for the truth, as Kavanaugh is surely now aware.

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