It’s been a busy week for Supreme Court Justice Elena Kagan, and this week she had one of her best days in her post-McCarthy tenure.
But on Wednesday, she received a rare glimpse of what it’s like to be on the job.
Kagan, a three-term Supreme Court judge, sat for a short interview with the Washington Post’s David Weigel and the Times’ James Risen, who reported the justices had just been given a briefing on the current controversy over whether President Donald Trump committed obstruction of justice for allegedly attempting to obstruct justice.
Kagan’s brief comments came in the midst of the Supreme Court’s long-running debate over the scope of the president’s authority to fire special counsel Robert Mueller.
Kagan and Trump sparred over whether the president had the right to fire Mueller over his investigation into the Trump campaign.
In an interview on Friday, Trump said he would fire Mueller if he was not cleared of wrongdoing.
While Kagan did not directly respond to the president, she did say Trump’s comments to reporters that the special counsel would be fired if he were not cleared were “very strange.”
“The president’s behavior has been very erratic,” she said.
As the debate over Mueller’s fate continued on Wednesday and Thursday, the Supreme Justice’s office began preparing to file a brief arguing that the president did not have the legal authority to order Mueller out of the investigation.
The court was scheduled to hear oral arguments in the case Thursday, but a judge in a separate case, that of former FBI director James Comey, postponed the case to Friday.
The case centers on a dispute over whether Comey violated the Hatch Act, which prohibits an executive branch official from engaging in “unauthorized or improper activity” that might interfere with the investigation of a potential crime.
The law does not apply to the White House.
The Supreme Court has previously ruled that the Hatch act can be invoked to prevent a sitting president from firing an FBI director in the course of an investigation, and it could still be used to block Mueller from taking over the probe.
In a statement, the Trump administration pointed to Kagan’s appearance before the Post, and said the White of the United States was “deeply saddened by the court’s decision to postpone this case and will be reviewing its implications.”
The case also could have far-reaching implications for the nation’s legal system.
If Kagan loses, it could open the door to the Supreme Judicial Court to rule on whether the Supreme Ct can use the Hatch law to prevent the Trump presidency from using a special counsel.