The juxtaposition of the two biggest stories in DC are a bit jarring. On the one hand, we see a presidency in crisis, with Donald Trump’s former lawyer and campaign chairman becoming felons on the same afternoon. On the other hand, we also see the president’s Supreme Court nominee moving forward through the confirmation process, as if Trump’s scandals were irrelevant.The Washington Examiner, a conservative outlet, reported overnight that some congressional Democrats believe the two stories are linked.
The Senate should halt its consideration of President Trump’s Supreme Court nominee after Tuesday’s guilty verdicts against former Trump campaign manager Paul Manafort and guilty pleas from former Trump lawyer Michael Cohen, Democrats insisted late Tuesday.
Democrats have long argued that Republicans are trying to rush Trump’s pick, Judge Brett Kavanaugh, through the Senate confirmation process. But Tuesday’s surprising verdict and guilty pleas – along with Cohen’s claim that Trump instructed him to violate campaign finance laws – gave Democrats a new way to justify a complete halt to Kavanaugh’s consideration.
“A president who’s also an unindicted co-conspirator should not get to make lifetime appointments to the Supreme Court,” Rep. David Cicilline, D-R.I., argued Tuesday night.
It’s a safe bet that Senate Republicans will scoff at such an argument. That does not, however, mean its proponents are wrong.
It’s hardly outlandish to note that there are some awkward but credible questions surrounding the legitimacy of Trump’s presidency. Americans are also confronted with the fact that the president is the subject of an ongoing criminal investigation, and a wide variety of people in Trump’s immediate orbit – including his lawyer, his campaign chairman, and his White House national security adviser – have either been convicted or have pleaded guilty to felonies.
Yesterday, meanwhile, the president’s former “fixer” directly implicated Trump in a federal crime, leading some legal experts to suggest that Trump is effectively an un-indicted co-conspirator in the Cohen case.
An untold number of questions related to these scandals may require Supreme Court scrutiny – and Trump’s choice for the high court has argued that a president shouldn’t be bothered with criminal investigations or even questions from federal investigators.
Given the circumstances, is it really so outrageous to think the Senate should tap its brakes before rushing to approve this president’s Supreme Court nominee?