Judge Brett M. Kavanaugh said Wednesday that the Federalist Society did not personally recruit him to be President Trump’s Supreme Court nominee, pushing back on Democratic accusations he was picked to do the bidding of wealthy conservative donors.
He said he was picked by Mr. Trump, and was vetted by chief White House lawyer Donald McGahn during the nomination process this summer.
He was responding to questions from Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse, Rhode Island Democrat, who laid out a complex set of relationships between wealthy donors and the Federalist Society and the Judicial Crisis Network, two conservative groups whose members have been enthusiastic supporters of Judge Kavanaugh.
Mr. Trump has said those groups helped him shape his thinking on judicial picks during the campaign, when he made his court picks a major issue for voters.
But Sen. Mike Lee, Utah Republican, pointed out that Judge Kavanaugh was not on either the first or second drafts of nominee lists Mr. Trump released during the 2016 campaign. Judge Kavanaugh was added to a third list that was compiled after Mr. Trump took office.