Brett Kavanaugh Grilled on ‘Gambling Addiction’ and Unusually High Credit Card Debt

Posted on: September 12, 2018, 07:53h. 

Last updated on: September 12, 2018, 07:53h.

Last week’s combative Senate Judiciary Committee hearings saw President Donald Trump’s Supreme Court nominee, Brett Kavanaugh, interrogated on everything from his views on racial profiling to abortion rights, but now one Democrat wants to know about his gambling habits.

Brett Kavanaugh
President’s Trump’s nominee for the Supreme Court, Brett Kavanaugh, performs the bunny ears air-quote maneuver during last week’s Senate Judiciary Committee hearings, but what on earth is going on with his bank accounts? (Image: Quartz)

Among a series of follow up questions submitted to Kavanaugh this week, Senator Sheldon Whitehouse (D – R.I.) asks pointedly whether the incumbent Judge for the US Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit had ever sought treatment for gambling addiction.

Whitehouse’s eyebrows have been raised by Kavanaugh’s unusual amount of personal debt and a reference in one of his emails, turned over to the Senate, to “another” losing craps session. In 2006, Kavanaugh declared he was between $60,000 and $200,000 in debt because of bank and credit card loans. Ten years later, in 2016, he reported the same figure.

White House deputy press secretary Raj Shah said in July that Kavanaugh had acquired his debts through the purchase of baseball tickets to friends who later paid him back.

Intriguing Email

Apologies to all for missing Friday (good excuse), and growing aggressive after blowing still another game of dice (don’t recall),” Kavanaugh wrote to friends in September 2001 when he was White House counsel. “Reminders to everyone to be very, very vigilant w/r/t confidentiality on all issues and all fronts, including with spouses.”

Whitehouse wants Kavanaugh to clarify exactly what “issues and fronts” required such confidentially.

He also wants to know whether Kavanaugh has participated in any form of gambling in the last 18 years, whether he regularly plays poker, whether he has ever acquired a gambling debt in New Jersey, and whether he has ever reported gambling losses to the IRS.

Bets Are Off On Kavanaugh 

Whitehouse’s curiosity is not merely a case of Democratic backbiting against the Trump nominee and die-hard social conservative. Questions about the source of a nominee’s wealth or debt are a matter of due diligence because a justice with financial difficulties could be compromised and susceptible to bribery.

Kavanaugh is required to respond to each question in writing.

While bookmakers speculated enthusiastically last summer about the identity of Trump’s pick, their interest has largely waned now there’s only one runner in the race. Kavanaugh may be a polarizing figure politically, but the Republicans have the votes to install him in the Supreme Court.

The books have dried up, but the prediction markets website has Kavanaugh as a shoo-in for the job, with a probability of 90 percent.