- Senate Democrats want to delay the confirmation of Judge Brett Kavanaugh to the Supreme Court in light of Michael Cohen pleading guilty to two federal crimes he said he committed during the 2016 election “at the direction” of then-candidate Donald Trump.
- They argue that a president implicated in a federal criminal case should not be able to nominate a Justice to the Supreme Court who could potentially rule on Trump’s criminal liabilities.
- A spokesman for Senate Judiciary chairman Chuck Grassley said confirmation hearings are scheduled to proceed as planned.
A number of Senate Democrats want to put the brakes on the confirmation of Judge Brett Kavanaugh to the Supreme Court after President Donald Trump’s personal lawyer Michael Cohen pleaded guilty to federal crimes – and said he committed two of them “at the direction” of Trump.
Specifically, Cohen said in his guilty plea hearing that he violated corporate contribution and campaign finance laws “at the direction” of then-candidate Trump with the express intent of influencing the election. The contributions are believed to have helped kill negative stories about Trump’s alleged affairs with porn star Stormy Daniels and model Karen McDougal.
“It is unseemly for the president of the United States to be picking a Supreme Court who could soon be effectively a juror in a case involving the president himself,” minority leader Chuck Schumer of New York said in a speech on the Senate floor. “The prospect of the president being implicated in some criminal case is no longer a hypothetical that can be dismissed.”
The Senators are calling on Judiciary Committee Chairman Chuck Grassley to delay the confirmation hearings until there is more clarity on the scope of Trump’s possible criminal involvement in the illegal payouts.
Depending on the trajectory of special counsel Mueller’s investigation into possible collusion between the Trump campaign and Russia and any other revelations that come from Cohen, the Supreme Court could rule on critical issues involving executive power – such as whether the President can be compelled to testify before a grand jury.
Earlier that day, Sen. Mazie Hirono of Hawaii called off a meeting with Kavanaugh over Cohen’s claims.
“I have cancelled my meeting with Judge Kavanaugh,” she tweeted. “[Trump], who is an un-indicted co-conspirator in a criminal matter, does not deserve the courtesy of a meeting with his nominee – purposely selected to protect, as we say in Hawaii, his own okole.” (Okole roughly translates to “arse” in Hawaiian).
Other lawmakers who weighed in included Sen. Kamala Harris of California, Ed Markey of Massachusetts, and Jeanne Shaheen of New Hampshire.
Senate Democrats have previously scrutinised Judge Kavanaugh, who is currently a federal judge for the DC Circuit Court of Appeals, on some of his previous legal writings supporting a strong executive and arguing that a sitting President should not be criminally prosecuted or civilly sued while in office.
“Calls to delay the hearing are just the latest tactic from opponents who decided to vote “no” weeks ago, frantically looking for anything that sticks. The hearing will begin as planned on September 4,” a spokesman for Sen. Grassley said of the Democrats’ concerns.
Jeffrey Cohen, an attorney and partner at Cohen & Goldstein in New York City, told Business Insider he thought it highly unlikely for Chairman Grassley to slow down proceedings for Kavanaugh’s confirmation unless the House brought impeachment proceedings or Mueller released a report implicating Trump even further.
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