In the abortion controversy, Kavanaugh wanted the justices to sidestep any ruling on the merits of a Louisiana law that could have closed abortion clinics in the state, CNN has learned. The case marked the first time in four years the justices were taking up the heated subject. Kavanaugh’s plan would have ensured the law — a credentialing mandate for doctors who perform abortions — would not go into immediate effect but also ensured that the justices would not have to put their own views on the line.

The same would have been true in the fight between Trump and the US House of Representatives. Kavanaugh’s idea — presented to the justices in an internal memo and conversations, sources said — would have had the high court avoid the subpoena fight over Trump financial documents, based on the judicial principle that courts should stay out of cases involving fundamentally political questions.

While that strategy could have meant the President had to hand over his documents to congressional investigators, sources say the personal fate of Trump did not come up in internal conversations.

Throughout the recent court session, as Kavanaugh revealed a desire to avoid certain thorny dilemmas, the newest justice also demonstrated a pattern of trying to publicly appeal to both sides. His style of accommodation was on display in recent disputes over gay and transgender workers and, separately, undocumented immigrants who came to the US as children.