New Jersey Senator Cory Booker wants the Senate to delay approval of President Trump's Supreme Court pick so long as Trump is (allegedly) under investigation by Robert Mueller for criminal activity.
Senator Cory Booker: "The president of the United States is a subject of an ongoing criminal investigation...that could end up before the Supreme Court," so any Trump SCOTUS nomination should be "delayed until the Mueller investigation is concluded." pic.twitter.com/0WwvwNJMYz
— Keith Boykin (@keithboykin) June 28, 2018
The following is the most important part of the video in the above tweet.
If we are not going to thoroughly discuss what it means to have a president with this ongoing investigation happening who is now going to be able to interview Supreme Court Justices and potentially continue with his tradition of doing litmus tests, loyalty tests for that person, we could be participating in a process that could undermine that criminal investigation.
And I think it is in the best interest of our democracy for this committee to consider a nominee from a president -- I think it is questionable should we should be considering a nominee from a president who has a history of demanding these loyalty tests and we could be responsible for participating in something that could undermine that investigation. . . .
I . . . do not believe that this committee should or can in good conscience consider a nominee put forward by this president until that investigation is concluded. Not only do I believe that we should abide by the rule set by [Majority Leader] McConnell, but I think we should look at the larger moment we're in in American history, conflict of interest that is clearly present in this president.
Now, watch the first three minutes of the following video to see Booker explain his position more fully.
If you watched the video attached to Keith Boykin's tweet, you may have noticed that another Senator challenged Booker's claim that the President was the subject of a criminal investigation. So though we may suspect it, we don't know for a fact that Trump is now a subject of a criminal investigation.
Even if we assume that Trump is not currently a subject of the criminal investigation, there is a significant possibility that he could at any time become a subject of the investigation. So despite this uncertainty, Booker raises very valid points. But Booker does not go far enough. He misses a key point that MUST be raised by Democrats during the confirmation hearing.
Evidence of Collusion Between the Trump Campaign and Russia
A significant portion of the population believe that Donald Trump did not become President through legitimate means. He may have laundered money, and laundered money may have flowed into his campaign coffers. He may have broken campaign contribution law in other ways. He may have directly and illegally colluded with the Russians to steal the election. WE KNOW FOR A FACT
- He continuously asked the public during the campaign to visit WikiLeaks and read e-mail and documents that he KNEW WITH CERTAINTY WERE STOLEN from John Podesta and the DNC. He SHOULD HAVE KNOWN they were stolen by Russia, but even if he didn’t, he knew they were stolen.
- He asked the Russians for help by asking them to release Hillary’s 30,000 missing emails.
- Note the date when Trump asked Russia to release Hillary's emails--July 27. Then note the next paragraph, taken from the 22nd point of Mueller's recent indictment of 12 Russian hackers. Is it just a coincidence that the Russians attempted to spearphish these accounts apparently within hours of Donald Trump's request?
The Conspirators spearphished individuals affiliated with the Clinton Campaign throughout the summer of 2016. For example, on or about July 27, 2016, the Conspirators attempted after hours to spearphish for the first time email accounts at a domain hosted by a third-party provider and used by Clinton’s personal office. At or around the same time, they also targeted seventy-six email addresses at the domain for the Clinton Campaign.
- Rob Goldman sent Donald Trump Jr. an email on June 3, 2016 informing him that the government of Russia was interested in giving him dirt on Hillary, to which Jr responded, "I love it". Jr. either received a call from or made a call to a blocked phone number while he was in the middle of arranging details of the meeting with Emin Agalarov.
Who was speaking with Jr from behind the blocked phone number? Jr. testified that he couldn't remember, just as he testified that he couldn't remember whether he had even talked to Agalarov or whether he had left a message on Agalarov's answering service. (Funny, Agalarov had no trouble remembering that he talked to Jr. over the phone that day) But President Trump has used a blocked phone number, which raises the question of whether Jr. was talking to his Father to fill him in on details of the Trump Tower meeting.
Maybe it is just a coincidence that Jr. talked to someone with a blocked number while he was negotiating the details of the Trump Tower meeting with Emin Agalarov. But is it also a coincidence that he couldn't remember whether he had even talked to Agalarov? Or that he couldn't remember who was on the other end of the blocked phone number?
- Donald Trump promised to make a “major speech” about the Clintons only hours after the Trump Tower meeting between Team Trump and Team Russia was set. They were disappointed when it turned out the Russians came empty-handed and Donald Trump did not give that major speech. Was this just another coincidence?
- Point 34 of Mueller's recent indictment against 12 Russians notes that the Russians hacked data from the Democratic National Committee's analytics in September 2016. (Analytics are the voter models the campaign uses to decide where and when to devote campaign resources.) A very astute Twitter user named Julie, who goes by the handle @resisterhood made some remarkable observations. She noted that the Trump campaign made a major shift in how it was targeting its advertising within a few weeks of Russia’s theft of the DNC’s analytics. She retweeted a tweet that Trump campaign operative Jason Miller wrote on October 7 saying that their decision to shift campaign resources was data-driven. Julie then noted
It's not uncommon for a candidate to make some changes wrt advertising targets in the final weeks of a campaign, but in my experience a ~25% shift because you've suddenly identified "new battlegrounds" is...not typical
She then asked,
Coincidence? Maybe, but we know:
-Russia hacked DNC analytics sometime in Sept
-Early Oct, Trump campaign abruptly redirected their ad spending, claimed changes were "data driven"
-New ad investments were heavily in states that narrowly handed Trump the electoral college
Julie was right to ask if this was a coincidence. But as we have seen, this is not the first coincidence. It really is looking like there are TOO MANY DAMN COINCIDENCES for this not to be collusion. I encourage you to read Julie's remarkable thread and the many well-reasoned responses. It is one of the best threads that I have seen on Twitter.
- The Moscow Project has documented 82 contacts between Team Trump and Russia-linked operatives that members of Team Trump have tried to cover up. Why the secrecy if nothing nefarious was happening?
- Donald Trump almost never criticizes Putin. Despite the fact that our intelligence services agree with certainty that the Russians interfered with our 2016 elections, Trump has constantly denied or minimized the possibility of that interference. Trump is willing to take Putin’s word that Russia did not interfere over the analysis by our intelligence service AND THE SENATE COMMITTEE WHICH IS CONTROLLED BY REPUBLICANS. He has undermined NATO and attacked our allies in the European Union and Canada. He has made his displeasure of sanctions against Russia known. He has even hinted that he might be willing to recognize Russia’s grab of the Crimea. In other words, he is checking off all the boxes on Vladimir Putin’s foreign policy wish list. This is not what someone who has been accused of colluding with the Russians would do if he wanted to dispel those accusations. In fact, this is further evidence that Trump either feels like he owes something to the Russians or that the Russians have something they can use as blackmail him. It is obvious Trump does not want to PISS off Putin.
- Vyacheslav Nikonov, a member of Russia’s Duma, bragged that U.S. intelligence (services) “slept through while Russia elected a new U.S. president."
This is by no means an exhaustive list of evidence pointing towards collusion between Team Trump and Russia. I could have written a great deal more. But this alone provides enough reason to question Trump’s legitimacy as President, and a significant percent of the population does indeed question it.
What Democrats on the Senate Judiciary Committee Must Do
The Democrats on the Senate Judiciary Committee MUST raise this issue, for if the President obtained his power to nominate a Supreme Court Justice through illegitimate means, then any nominee he chooses will thus be tainted.
The only way to lift the cloud of illegitimacy swirling around the President is to allow Mueller to complete his investigation. If he determines that Trump legitimately won the election--i.e., if he determines that the Trump campaign did not significantly violate the law to steal the election-- then the American people can have full confidence that the Supreme Court and the rulings it hands down are legitimate. Until then, the legitimacy of all rulings where Trump appointees cast the deciding vote will be open to question.
Thus, it is necessary to preserve trust in the legitimacy of the Supreme Court to block any new appointments until Trump's name has been cleared. I doubt arguments about the niceties of legitimacy will persuade any Republicans to withhold their vote for a Trump nominee. But it is up to the Democrats to do the following during the Judicial hearings.
- State that the President's legitimacy is currently in question. This casts a shadow over the legitimacy of his nominees and ultimately, the legitimacy of any decision where the nominee's vote makes a decisive difference.
- Ask Kavanaugh if he will allow President Trump to kill the Mueller investigation or if he wants Mueller to be able to continue his investigation so that the legitimacy of the Trump Presidency (and his own legitimacy on the Court) can be established. From what I have heard so far, it sounds like Kavanaugh would have no problem with Trump killing the investigation, but he needs to be asked this directly while under oath.
- Ask Kavanaugh if he will resign if Mueller finds that the Trump campaign significantly violated the law to steal the election. Ask him if he will put the interests of the Court and the Country ahead of his own interests by resigning to preserve the confidence of the American people in the integrity of the Court. And while we are at it, Democrats should ask him if he will PUBLICLY ask Justice Gorsuch to resign as well to protect the integrity of the Court.
Despite all I have just written, Nick Knudsen has written a counterargument that is really worth considering. He argues that Democrats should get used to the idea that we are going to lose on this fight, and that it will be a Pyrrhic victory if we win. The short version of his article is that if Democrats successfully block Trump's nominee from becoming a Justice before the election it will just energize his base and destroy any chance Democrats have of winning back the Senate. In fact, given the Senators up for election this year, if we keep Trump's nominee from winning before the election, there is a good chance the Democrats will actually lose seats in the Senate. I'm probably not doing his argument justice, so please, read his article and decide for yourself if he has a winning (or at least the least losing) strategy.
Even if the Democrats decide that it is not worth having an all-out battle to try to block Kavanaugh, the least we should do is extract a promise that he will resign if it turns out that Trump won the Presidency through illegitimate means.
Update 7/11/18: This article has undergone signigicant revisions. I have provided greater detail explaining why there is reason to believe Trump's Presidency is illegitimate and I have incorporated a previous update mentioning Nick Knudsen's article into the body of this article.
Update 7/15/18: This article incorporated more significant revisions to incorporate new evidence after Robert Mueller's indictment of 12 Russians for hacking the DNC and Clinton associates