Democrats Push for Delay to Kavanaugh Hearings Following Cohen's Guilty Plea: 'It's a Game Changer'

August 22, 2018

Senate Democrats are calling for the Judiciary Committee to postpone Brett Kavanaugh's Supreme Court confirmation hearings following Michael Cohen's guilty plea on Tuesday and implication of President Donald Trump in a campaign finance violation.

Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D., N.Y.) called the case a "game changer" in a speech on the Senate floor on Wednesday. He slammed Kavanaugh for what he characterized as having radical views on the extent of presidential authority, and he said Kavanaugh's "refusal" to say a president must comply with a subpoena makes it dangerous to confirm the Supreme Court nominee, especially given Cohen's implication of Trump.

Cohen, Trump's former lawyer and longtime fixer, pleaded guilty in federal court on Tuesday to eight criminal charges. He also said that, during the 2016 presidential campaign, he arranged payments at the direction of Trump to two women to keep them from speaking about affairs they claimed they had with the president.

"It's a game changer. Should be," Schumer said. "A president, identified as an unindicted co-conspirator of a federal crime ... is on the verge of making a lifetime appointment to the Supreme Court, a court that may someday soon determine the extent of the president's legal jeopardy. In my view, the Senate Judiciary Committee should immediately pause the consideration of the Kavanaugh nomination."

Schumer and other Democrats have made hay of not getting all of Kavanaugh's documents from his tenure in the George W. Bush administration, although Republicans have contended that his tenure as White House staff secretary concerns documents that he simply handled and did not write himself.

"At the very least, 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 said. "In light of these facts, I believe [Judiciary Committee] Chairman [Chuck] Grassley has scheduled a hearing for Judge Kavanaugh too soon, and I am calling on him to delay the hearing."

Sen. Richard Blumenthal (D., Conn.) told reporters on Wednesday that the hearing should be postponed and that Kavanaugh's nomination is "tainted with illegality."

"We should be pushing to postpone the Kavanaugh hearing. This nomination is now tainted with illegality, because the president who's nominated Brett Kavanaugh has been implicated in a criminal conspiracy, not just any criminal conspiracy, but one that impacted the outcome of the election," Blumenthal said.

In an interview on CNN, Sen. Chris Van Hollen (D., Md.) agreed.

"Yes, I do believe they should be postponed, both for the reasons that Senator Blumenthal outlined, but also because we have an administration that's continuing to hide very important and very relevant documents about Brett Kavanaugh's record," he said. "I think what's happened the last 48 hours just adds additional fuel to the need to see those documents."

Kavanaugh's hearings are set to begin on Sept. 4. Trump nominated him to fill the vacancy left by the retirement of Justice Anthony Kennedy, and no Republicans have indicated they will vote him down to date.