Calls to halt Senate hearings for right-wing Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh—as well as for Congress to move towards impeachment proceedings—resurged after after the plea agreement of President Donald Trump's former personal attorney Michael Cohen, signed under oath, led the president to be characterized as "all but an unindicted co-conspirator in a federal crime."
"Judge Kavanaugh's refusal to say a POTUS must comply w 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," tweeted the Senate's top Democrat, Chuck Schumer (N.Y.), a day after his meeting with Kavanaugh.
"At the very least," Schumer later told reporters, "it is unseemly for the president of the United States to be picking a Supreme Court justice who could soon be effectively a juror in a case involving the president himself."
Schumer called the details contained in Cohen's plea deal, paired with Kavanaugh's stated position on executive power, "a game changer" and urged Republican Sen. Chuck Grassley (Iowa), chair of the Senate Judiciary Committee, to delay confirmation hearings for the unpopular high court hopeful.
Judge Kavanaugh’s refusal to say a POTUS must comply w 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.— Chuck Schumer (@SenSchumer) August 22, 2018
It's a game changer & Chairman Grassley should delay confirmation hearings
"Trump was implicated in criminal activity in Cohen's plea deal," the Indivisible team tweeted Wednesday morning. "Kavanaugh is his hand-picked nominee, clearly chosen to protect him from accountability. Senators CANNOT justify voting for Kavanaugh now."
Trump was implicated in criminal activity in Cohen's plea deal. Kavanaugh is his hand-picked nominee, clearly chosen to protect him from accountability.— Indivisible Guide (@IndivisibleTeam) August 22, 2018
Senators CANNOT justify voting for Kavanaugh now.
Call & tell your Senators to #StopKavanaugh: https://t.co/69VuInU5C5 pic.twitter.com/kUa7NLe6d1
Progressive groups had already staged actions to halt Kavanaugh's nomination before the week's bombshell guilty plea from Cohen and admission that Trump directed him to violate campaign finance laws and the guilty verdicts for former campaign chairman Paul Manafort, citing his track record. And Sen. Kamala Harris (D-Calif.), speaking to MSNBC's Andrea Mitchell on Wednesday, said that "even before this happened, there was no question the process was flawed," referring to the lack of disclosure of documents related to Kavanaugh's time serving as George W. Bush's staff secretary, which she argued are leaving lawmakers and the American public in the dark.
Cohen's implication of Trump is also putting renewed focus on a 2009 article (pdf) Kavanaugh wrote in which he argued that a sitting president shouldn't face criminal investigations or criminal prosecutions.
Perhaps with that in mind, Sen. Mazie Hirono (D-Hawaii) announced she was cancelling her scheduled meeting with Kavanaugh. In a tweet echoing Indivisible's, she said that a president "who is an unindicted 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."
Progressive candidate for New York attorney general Zephyr Teachout weighed in on the Cohen admission as well, tweeting that the one "obvious" response is that "Kavanaugh's Supreme Court nomination must be immediately halted. The President can't be picking who might be his judge."
Assessing the Trump presidency, journalist Nash Riggins argued in The Independent that "in the wake of this week’s judgements, [Trump has] finally got to go," and said "it's time for action."
...Trump must be impeached—and, my fellow American citizens, you and I have the power to make that happen. If you want Trump to stop greasing up the Oval Office with Big Mac wrappers, get up and do something about it. Write to your representative. Call your senator. They're the ones who can kickstart impeachment, and they're elected by us.
If you're unfortunate enough to be represented by a Trump acolyte incapable of independent thought, then get out there and campaign for their replacement. Get involved. Vote for somebody with the courage to listen, to do what's right and vote to peacefully rid us of this great orange buffoon.
Filmmaker and activist Bree Newsome, for her part, suggested in a Twitter thread that congressional lawmakers, "especially Republicans," won't move towards impeachment because they are "not opposed to 45's racist agenda."
"To impeach this president would be to delegitimize the racist, misogynist movement he represents and to acknowledge that his political ascendancy is a product of illegal activity more so than the will of the masses," she tweeted.
According to one of the Watergate prosecutors, Jill Wine-Banks, however, Cohen's admission makes the case obvious.
"This is clear evidence that the president committed crimes and that is grounds for impeachment, there is no question of it," assistant Watergate special prosecutor Jill Wine-Banks told MSNBC's "The Last Word with Lawrence O'Donnell."
"I know that he will defend on saying, 'but this isn’t Russia.' Well I don’t care that it's not Russia," she said. "It's not Russia gate, but it's still Trump gate."