In the words of Senate Minority Leader Charles Schumer, D-N.Y., Tuesday’s legal developments are a “game-changer” for the confirmation of Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh.
Democrats quickly seized on the guilty plea by President Trump’s former lawyer Michael Cohen and the guilty verdicts in the case against former Trump campaign manager Paul Manafort as fresh justification for their long-shot bid to stop Kavanaugh’s confirmation.
Judge Kavanaugh’s refusal to say a POTUS must comply w a duly issued subpoena & Mr Cohen’s implication of POTUS in a federal crime make the danger of Kavanaugh’s nomination to the SCOTUS abundantly clear.
It’s a game changer & Chairman Grassley should delay confirmation hearings
— Chuck Schumer (@SenSchumer) August 22, 2018
Schumer’s rationale is based on an article Kavanaugh authored in 2009 for the Minnesota Law Review in which he argued that presidents should not be subject to legal proceedings while in office.
“I believe it vital that the President be able to focus on his never-ending tasks with as few distractions as possible. The country wants the President to be ‘one of us’ who bears the same responsibilities of citizenship that all share. But I believe that the President should be excused from some of the burdens of ordinary citizenship while serving in office,” Kavanaugh wrote.
While Manafort still faces the prospect of a retrial on the 10 counts that the jury in federal court in Alexandria, Va., failed to decide, he also will be tried separately on charges of money laundering, obstruction of justice and failing to register as a foreign agent. Trump argued Tuesday that Manafort’s convictions had nothing to do with him, which appears to be true, but it is unclear if the president will be implicated in the upcoming trial.
Trump is in far greater legal jeopardy regarding Cohen, who in his statement to the court tied the president to campaign finance felonies. Cohen told a judge in federal court in Manhattan on Tuesday that Trump had directed him to pay off Stormy Daniels and Karen McDougal to hide allegations of extramarital affairs that were seen as damaging to his presidential campaign. Cohen admitted that he knew the payments constituted illegal and unreported political contributions. The president has not been charged with a crime in the case, and it is not known if he is under investigation, but legal observers have said he faces a potential legal liability.
Thus, according to Democrats in the Senate, Kavanaugh’s nomination presents a clear conflict of interest, a point that Schumer attempted to hammer home on Wednesday.
At this moment in our nation’s history, the Senate should not confirm a man to the bench who believes presidents are virtually beyond accountability, even in criminal cases; that they are essentially above the law and only Congress can check a president’s power. #WhatsAtStake
— Chuck Schumer (@SenSchumer) August 22, 2018
Several other Democrats joined Schumer’s call to stop Kavanaugh from reaching the Supreme Court. At Wednesday’s briefing, White House press secretary Sarah Sanders called the notion that the Manafort and Cohen cases have changed the outlook for Kavanaugh’s nomination “desperate.”
Americans don’t want a president who is an unindicted co-conspirator in a crime to have the power to appoint someone to the Supreme Court. We should not proceed with Judge Kavanaugh’s confirmation hearings.
— Kamala Harris (@KamalaHarris) August 22, 2018
Some senators, like New Hampshire’s Jean Shaheen, did not go so far as to argue that Kavanaugh was now effectively disqualified from being considered, but called for a delay.
In light of yesterday’s events, the Senate should delay hearings on Kavanaugh’s nomination to the Supreme Court. There must be checks and balances on this President.
— Sen. Jeanne Shaheen (@SenatorShaheen) August 22, 2018
But others, like Hawaii Sen. Mazie Hirono, saw Cohen’s guilty plea as the end of the line.
I have cancelled my meeting with Judge Kavanaugh. @realDonaldTrump, who is an unindicted 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.
— Senator Mazie Hirono (@maziehirono) August 22, 2018
For many Democrats, “co-conspirator” was the favored way to describe Trump.
Trump’s personal lawyer has sworn under oath that POTUS directed him to commit a federal crime.
The Senate must reject any SCOTUS nominee from a president who is an alleged criminal co-conspirator—especially when that nominee may rule to protect Trump from any accountability.
— Cory Booker (@CoryBooker) August 22, 2018
Of course, Trump had his own verdict on the matter.
Michael Cohen plead guilty to two counts of campaign finance violations that are not a crime. President Obama had a big campaign finance violation and it was easily settled!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) August 22, 2018
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