Democrats launched a simultaneous attack against Donald Trump and Brett Kavanaugh on Wednesday, casting the president as a “co-conspirator” whose Supreme Court nominee has been tainted.
Sen. Mazie Hirono (D-Hawaii) canceled her Thursday meeting with Kavanaugh, citing the president’s alleged legal troubles. She accused Trump of being “an unindicted co-conspirator in a criminal matter” and suggested he “does not deserve the courtesy of a meeting with his nominee—purposely selected to protect, as we say in Hawaii, his own okole.”
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Okole translates to the “buttocks” or “backside.”
Sen. Ed Markey (D-Mass.) also said Wednesday that he won’t meet with Kavanaugh.
“He has been nominated by someone implicated, and all but named as a co-conspirator, in federal crimes,” Markey said. “His nomination is tainted and should be considered illegitimate.”
Their refusal to meet with Kavanaugh quickly followed Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer’s (D-N.Y.) call to delay Kavanaugh’s confirmation hearings and signal a new front in the Democrats’ attempts to halt his confirmation.
“Judge Kavanaugh’s refusal to say a POTUS must comply w [sic] 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,” Schumer said in a tweet. “It’s a game changer & Chairman Grassley should delay confirmation hearings.”
Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.), the top Democrat on the Judiciary Committee, and Sens. Jeanne Shaheen (D-N.H.) and Kamala Harris (D-Calif.) later joined Schumer’s call for a delay. “Americans don’t want a president who is an unindicted co-conspirator in a crime to have the power to appoint someone to the Supreme Court,” Harris said. “We should not proceed with Judge Kavanaugh’s confirmation hearings.”
Schumer, Harris and three other Democrats met with Kavanaugh on Tuesday. Schumer’s meeting, however, coincided with news that Michael Cohen, Trump’s former longtime lawyer, had pleaded guilty to eight counts, including two counts of making contributions in excess of $25,000 for the purpose of influencing a federal election.
Cohen admitted in court to paying off adult-film actress Stormy Daniels and ex-Playboy model “for the purposes of influencing the election” in 2016. Both women claim to have had affairs with Trump in the past, which the president denies.
Trump, for his part, argued that Cohen’s campaign-finance violations “are not a crime” and claimed that his predecessor, President Barack Obama, “had a big campaign-finance violation and it was easily settled!”
When Schumer addressed reporters following his 90-minute sit-down Tuesday, he wouldn’t comment on Cohen except to warn that Trump better not talk about pardoning him or his former campaign chairman, Paul Manafort, who was found guilty of eight counts Tuesday.
By Wednesday, however, Schumer was among a small group of liberal Democrats seeking to leverage Trump’s latest headache into a long-shot bid to delay or defeat Kavanaugh’s confirmation.
Republicans, who can confirm Kavanaugh without any Democratic support, didn’t discuss Democrats’ latest ploy in their private lunch Wednesday.
“I don’t think that Judge Kavanaugh’s nomination has anything to do with what happened yesterday,” Sen. John Kennedy (R-La.) told POLITICO. “I just don’t see the connection, and I don’t think it’s going to have an impact on his confirmation one way or the other.”
Judiciary Committee spokesman George Hartmann recalled that Justice Stephen Breyer’s confirmation occurred when President Bill Clinton had been subpoenaed by a grand jury.
“Obviously, we are nowhere close to that situation today,” he said. “Calls to delay the hearing are just the latest tactic from opponents who decided to vote ‘no’ weeks ago, frantically looking for anything that sticks. The hearing will begin as planned on Sept. 4.”
The White House maintained that Kavanaugh will be present at his confirmation hearings next month.
“This is a desperate, pathetic attempt by Democrats to obstruct a highly qualified nominee,” said White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders.
Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.), who sits on the judiciary panel, said Cohen’s guilty plea will have “zero effect” on Kavanaugh’s confirmation.
“This won’t be pulled,” he told reporters, “and he’ll get confirmed.”