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
- Donald Trump continuously asked the public during the campaign to visit WikiLeaks and read e-mail and documents that he KNEW WITH CERTAINTY WERE STOLEN from Clinton Campaign Chairman John Podesta and the Democratic National Committee. He SHOULD HAVE KNOWN they were stolen by Russia, but even if he didn’t, he knew they were stolen. Yet, he still mentioned WikiLeaks 164 times during the last month of the campaign. Thanks to Robert Mueller's recent indictment of 12 Russian military spies, we now know that the Russians created the internet persona named Guccifer 2.0 and that Guccifer 2.0 and Organization 1 worked together to ensure that the publication of the stolen emails would have the greatest possible impact. (See paragraphs 47 - 49 of the indictment.) Though the indictment doesn't mention WikiLeaks by name, it is obvious from the indictment that Organization 1 is indeed WikiLeaks. Paragraph 44 of the indictment says that Guccifer 2.0 had written at least three messages to "a person who was in regular contact with senior members of the presidential campaign of Donald Trump" between August 15 and September 9, 2016. On August 21, 2016, Roger Stone tweeted "it will soon [be] the Podesta's time in a barrel". Podesta's emails were published by WikiLeaks a month and a half after that tweet. Stone acknowledged that he was probably the unnamed person mentioned in the indictment.
- We know that Donald Trump Jr. was in at least limited contact with WikiLeaks. We know that 15 minutes after WikiLeaks contacted him on October 12, 2016, Jr. tweeted out, "Very little pick-up by the dishonest media of incredible information provided by WikiLeaks. So dishonest! Rigged system!" And two days later Jr. tweeted a link that WikiLeaks had given him in their October. 12 message. We also know that Jr. emailed Jared Kushner, Steve Bannon, Kellyanne Conway, and Brad Parscale to inform them he was in contact with WikiLeaks.
- Trump 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, 2016. Then note the following paragraph, taken from the 22nd point of Mueller's recent indictment of 12 Russian hackers.
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.
Is it just a coincidence that the Russians attempted to spearphish these accounts apparently within hours of Donald Trump's request?
- 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 proposed 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. Why did Trump promise to make a major announcement about Clinton and not deliver? Was he expecting that his team would get some dirt at the Trump Tower meeting but they failed to deliver the goods? Or 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. 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? That is a LOT of contacts to be hiding.
- 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 seems to believe Putin’s word that Russia did not sabotage our election over the analysis of our intelligence service AND THE SENATE INTELLIGENCE 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 Crimea. And perhaps worst of all, in an unprecedented and universally condemned move, he considered letting Russian agents interrogate U.S. Ambassador to Russia Michael McFaul. When asked if he would turn over our former Ambassador for questioning, Trump should not have just said "no". He should have said, "HELL NO, AND FUCK YOUR MOTHER!" It is clear that Donald Trump is checking off nearly all the boxes on Vladimir Putin’s 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 to 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."
- FBI Special Agent Kevin Helson wrote an Affidavit In Support of an Application for a Criminal Complaint against Maria Butina. In the 18th paragraph of his affidavit, Helson described a proposal that Butina sent to a U.S. person in March 2015. When reading the following excerpt about Butina's proposal, keep in mind that CPAC stands for Conservative Political Action Conference and GUN RIGHTS ORGANIZATION is obviously the NRA. Which means POLITICAL PARTY 1 has to be the Republican Party.
The first line of the proposal reads, “Project Description ‘Diplomacy.” It goes on to state a major U.S. political party [hereinafter “POLITICAL PARTY 1”] would likely obtain control over the U.S. government after the 2016 elections; that POLITICAL PARTY 1 is “traditionally associated with negative and aggressive foreign policy, particularly with regards to Russia. However, now with the right to negotiate seems best to build konstruktivnyh [sic] relations” and that “[c]entral place and influence in the [POLITICAL PARTY 1] plays the [GUN RIGHTS ORGANIZATION]. The [GUN RIGHTS ORGANIZATION] [is] the largest sponsor of the CPAC conference and other events.”
Why would somebody working for the Russian government believe in March of 2015 that the Republican Party was likely to obtain control over the U.S. government in the elections the following year in 2016? Why did she think that? Why did she think that enough to be so sure that she was going to predicate this whole influence operation over a period of years on that expected outcome? Also, why in the Spring of 2015 did she think she had the “right to negotiate”? Why would the Russian government believe in 2015 they had the right to negotiate what the positions of the Republican Party would be out of the 2016 elections?
Are ten reasons not enough to convince you of a VERY strong likelihood of collusion between Team Trump and Russia? Alright. I'm feeling generous today. I'll throw in an eleventh reason for the low, low price of ABSOLUTELY FREE!
Donald Trump was briefed on January 6, 2017 by intelligence officials with very specific information proving that the Russians had hacked the DNC and John Podesta. The New York Times reports:
Two weeks before his inauguration, Donald J. Trump was shown highly classified intelligence indicating that President Vladimir V. Putin of Russia had personally ordered complex cyberattacks to sway the 2016 American election.
The evidence included texts and emails from Russian military officers and information gleaned from a top-secret source close to Mr. Putin, who had described to the C.I.A. how the Kremlin decided to execute its campaign of hacking and disinformation.
I encourage you to read the rest of the story. It is abundantly clear that not only did Trump know the Russians were responsible for the D.N.C. hack even before he was sworn in as President, he did everything he could to muddy the waters and cast doubt that it was indeed the Russians who hacked the D.N.C. In other words, Trump covered up for the Russians. At a minimum, that makes him an accessory after the fact. Now, maybe he covered up for the Russians because Putin had something to blackmail him with. Or maybe he covered up because acknowledging the hack would raise questions about the legitimacy of his Presidency. But for whatever reason, he covered it up.
Still not convinced? Wow! you are one tough customer. I embedded a segment from Rachel Maddow's July 16, 2018 show at the end of this article. Watch what she said between 1:36 and 3:36 or read the transcript below that.
This is by no means an exhaustive list of evidence pointing towards collusion between Team Trump and Russia. And it might not contain proof beyond a reasonable doubt that Donald Trump and his campaign illegally colluded with Russia to steal the election. But we can see a lot of smoke pouring out from behind the door leading to the mystery of the 2016 election. Whether that smoke is from fire, a smoking gun, or Puff the Magic Dragon is difficult to say. But there are just TOO MANY DAMN COINCIDENCES and things that make you go "hmmm" to dismiss the possibility that there was collusion between Team Trump and Russia. Trump seems to say or tweet "NO COLLUSION, NO COLLUSION" at least once a week. The saying "thou protesteth to much" comes to mind.
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
Update 7/20/18: Richard Greene wrote an excellent Op Ed for USA Today that makes many of the same points that I have made here. I recommend reading it since it complements my post nicely.
Update 8/2/18: I added more details to the Evidence of Collusion section.