Michael Cohen’s decision to plead guilty to eight federal charges Tuesday is already causing massive headaches for his former boss, President Donald Trump. Now, Democrats are trying to use the plea to torpedo Trump’s chances of getting Judge Brett Kavanaugh confirmed to the Supreme Court.
New York Sen. Chuck Schumer, New Jersey Sen. Cory Booker, Connecticut Sen. Richard Blumenthal, and Hawaii Sen. Mazie Hirono all demanded Wednesday that Republicans hold off on Kavanaugh’s confirmation hearings after Cohen’s guilty plea. Cohen, Trump’s former personal lawyer, said he broke federal campaign finance laws at the “direction of a candidate for federal office” by paying two individuals upwards of $130,000 each because they had “damaging” information.
The candidate was, technically, unnamed. But the implication was clear. Cohen just so happened to arrange to pay Stormy Daniels — a porn star who said she had an affair with Trump in 2006 — $130,000, as the Wall Street Journal first reported in January.
"In my view, the Senate Judiciary Committee should immediately pause the consideration of the Kavanaugh nomination,” Schumer, the Senate minority leader, said on the Senate floor, according to CNN.
“Judge Kavanaugh’s refusal to say a POTUS must comply [with] a duly issued subpoena & Mr Cohen’s implication of POTUS in a federal crime make the danger of Kavanaugh's nomination to the SCOTUS abundantly clear,” he later added on Twitter.
Booker, who sits on the Senate Judiciary Committee, echoed Schumer’s reasoning in a tweet if his own. “The Senate must reject any SCOTUS nominee from a president who is an alleged criminal co-conspirator — especially when that nominee may rule to protect Trump from any accountability.”
Hirono, who’s famous for her unrelenting opposition to Trump, said she cancelled her meeting with Kavanaugh following Cohen’s revelation. She’s also a member of the Senate Judiciary Committee.
It’s unlikely that Democrats’ cries, however, will move Iowa Sen. Chuck Grassley — the Republican chair of the Senate Judiciary Committee — to hold off on hearings for Kavanaugh, who promises to tilt the Supreme Court toward the conservative side for decades to come. The hearings are currently set for September, and if the committee recommends Kavanaugh, his nomination to the nation’s highest court goes to the full Senate floor for a vote. Two Republicans would need to flip to stop Kavanaugh.
One of the key GOP votes is Sen. Susan Collins of Maine, who supports abortion rights. Collins met with Kavanaugh on Tuesday and declared that Kavanaugh told her that Roe v. Wade, the landmark 1973 court decision that legalized abortion nationwide, is “settled law.” While Collins seemed to take that as a good sign that Kavanaugh would not overturn the decision, Democrats like Schumer pointed out that Kavanaugh has also refused to say whether he believes Roe was “correctly decided.”
Trump, in the meantime, just wants everybody to know that they should definitely not hire Cohen anytime soon.
Cover image: President Donald Trump's Supreme Court nominee, Judge Brett Kavanaugh, officiates at the swearing-in of Judge Britt Grant to take a seat on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Eleventh Circuit at the U.S. District Courthouse in Washington, in this Aug. 7, 2018. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite)