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Democrats oppose Brett Kavanaugh confirmation over Michael Cohen plea

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chuck schumer
Senate Minority Leader
Chuck Schumer

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  • 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 “ass” 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 scrutinized 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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