Trump could have picked any number of extremist conservative judges to replace Anthony Kennedy on the Supreme Court, but he chose Brett Kavanaugh.
Kavanaugh, who believes that a sitting president should not be able to be criminally indicted. Kavanaugh, who thinks the president should be able to monitor and even terminate a special counsel’s investigation. Kavanaugh, who if confirmed could soon rule on matters related to Robert Mueller’s investigation into Trump’s Russia ties.1
Trump likely picked Kavanaugh in part because of his extreme and practically unheard of view that the president is above the law. So-called moderate Republicans of conscience who have spoken out against Trump’s reckless abuse of power and coziness with Putin must now put words into action and refuse to confirm a Supreme Court nominee who could give Trump immunity.
Tell key Republicans: Don’t let Trump build a court that will undermine the Mueller investigation. Block Brett Kavanaugh.
Sens. Bob Corker and Jeff Flake have made headlines and earned plaudits from the elite political and media establishment for saying that Trump is a threat to our democracy, but they have done precious little to back those words up with action.2
Trump is already massively abusing his power. Along with his cronies in Congress, Trump is doing everything he can to undermine Mueller’s investigation. Just last week, the Senate confirmed Trump-appointed Putin-linked Brian Benczkowski to head the Department of Justice Criminal Division, even though Benczkowski refuses to recuse himself from the Russia investigation.3 Benczkowski, who previously worked closely with Jeff Sessions, is now in a position where he can leak information about Mueller’s probe to Sessions, who is recused, and even to Trump, who may be a subject of the investigation.4
If Trump fires Mueller’s supervisor, Rod Rosenstein, he could replace him with Benczkowski.5 It’s clear that Trump is doing everything he can to manipulate the investigation. There will be no way to hold him accountable if he gets a Supreme Court that will let him get away with it.
The Supreme Court could soon be weighing in on questions like whether Trump must comply with a subpoena, as Nixon was compelled to do in the Watergate investigation, whether Trump can be indicted, or – appallingly – whether he can pardon himself.6 Even the most conservative Republicans must not stand for this attack on checks and balances and the fundamental idea there is accountability for everyone – even the highest office in the land.
Some Democrats have made the point that Kavanaugh is particularly unqualified for a Supreme Court seat given his belief that the president is above the law. Sen. Booker pointed out that Trump picked the one judge who would give him immunity against the investigation.7
This should not be a partisan issue. In March, Sen. Flake said that he would impeach Trump if he fires Mueller.8 The Kavanaugh vote is a huge test of Flake’s alleged commitment to our democracy. Sens. Flake, Corker and other key Republicans need to know that the country is watching and we are counting on them block Kavanaugh and refuse to install a judge who would protect Trump.
Thank you for speaking out.
- Brett Kavanaugh, “Symposium: The Independent Counsel Act: From Watergate to Whitewater and Beyond Contribution,” Georgetown Law Journal, July 1998.
- Ella Nilsen, “6 key quotes from Sen. Jeff Flake’s speech blasting Trump,” Vox, Oct 24, 2017.
- Jordain Carney, “Flake: Trump’s flattery of Putin ‘simply bizarre,’ ‘unconscionable,,’” MSN, July 12, 2018.
- David Ignatius, “Could this Trump nominee interfere with Mueller?,” The Washington Post, March 22, 2018.
- David Shortell and Jeremy Herb, “Senate confirms Justice Department nominee with ties to Russian bank,” CNN, July 11, 2018.
- Pema Levy, “If Trump Fires Rosenstein, This Man Could end up with power over the Russia Investigation,” Mother Jones, April 11, 2018.
- Jordain Carney and Lydia Wheeler, “,” Dem senators: Kavanaugh must recuse himself from Mueller-related cases,” The Hill, July 10, 2018.
- Darren Samuelson, What Trump’s Supreme Court pick means for the Russia probe,” POLITICO, July 9, 2018.
- Brett Samuels, “Dem senator: Trump’s Supreme Court pick shows he’s ‘terrified of Robert Mueller,,” The Hill, July 9, 2018.
- Jaqueline Thomson, “Flake: I’d back impeaching Trump if he fired Mueller ‘without cause,‘” The Hill, March 20, 2018.