Kavanaugh and chaos

9/6/2018, 6 a.m.
We are witnessing a magnitude of chaos and desperation rarely seen in Washington with the U.S. Senate hearings this week ...

We are witnessing a magnitude of chaos and desperation rarely seen in Washington with the U.S. Senate hearings this week on President Trump’s nominee for the U.S. Supreme Court, Judge Brett M. Kavanaugh.

On one side, we have the Republicans who are so desperate to protect President Trump and hang on to their majority in Congress that they are steamrolling through Judge Kavanaugh’s confirmation despite the myriad of problems surrounding his nomination and the process.

On the other side, we have the Democrats — and members of the public — who are so bent on stopping the hearings that their disruptions are turning the process into a circus.

Seventy people were arrested Tuesday, the first day of the hearings, as protesters sequentially shouted from the back of the hearing room. Each protester was carted off by Capitol Police, only to have the shouts arise again a few minutes later by a new protester.

We understand that democracy can be loud and messy, particularly when it comes to constitutionally protected free speech.

But our big issue is this: How can any U.S. senator fairly and adequately determine Judge Kavanaugh’s fitness to serve on the nation’s highest court when he was nominated by a president operating under a growing legal and ethical cloud?

We are talking about a president whose instability and lack of fitness to hold office is so clearly visible that members of his White House staff were considering a mutiny — invoking the 25th Amendment of the Constitution to start the process to remove him, according to an unnamed insider’s op-ed published Wednesday by the New York Times.

President Trump has been implicated in federal crimes by Michael Cohen, his former personal lawyer. Mr. Cohen pleaded guilty last month to two counts of violating federal campaign laws by making payments to two women to conceal their sexual affairs with Mr. Trump in order to influence the outcome of the 2016 presidential campaign. 

Mr. Cohen told the judge in federal court in New York that Mr. Trump directed him to make the payments to the women, one a porn star, and the other a former Playboy playmate whose hush money was funneled through a newspaper tabloid.

An unindicted co-conspirator in the case, Mr. Trump nominated Judge Kavanaugh for the vacant seat on the U.S. Supreme Court. Judge Kavanaugh has written previously that a sitting president cannot be criminally indicted or the subject of a criminal investigation while in office.

Additionally, we all know that Special Counsel Robert Mueller is investigating possible collusion by President Trump and his campaign with the Russians to hack the 2016 president election. On the day that Mr. Cohen pleaded guilty to the campaign violations along with five counts of tax evasion and one count of bank fraud, Mr. Trump’s former presidential campaign chairman, Paul Manafort, was found guilty by a federal court jury in Northern Virginia of eight counts of financial fraud.

We now have court records proving that Mr. Trump and those closest to him have broken the law. So by putting Judge Kavanaugh on the U.S. Supreme Court, Mr. Trump is assured of having a justice who will protect him when he makes a legal move to free himself from prosecution. Judge Kavanaugh represents Mr. Trump’s get-out-of-jail-free card.

The president, who is under criminal investigation, should not be allowed to choose his own judge in a case that in all likelihood will go before the U.S. Supreme Court. Like all elected officials, Mr. Trump is accountable to the people and to the laws of the land. He should not be held above the law by Judge Kavanaugh or any other judge in this nation.

For public officials, there should be no immunity from accountability — including prosecution — particularly when it comes to the person who holds the highest elected position in our nation.

But Mr. Trump continues to put our democracy on the brink of a breakdown with his despicable actions. We cannot let his efforts to protect himself ruin the character and impartiality of our nation’s highest court.

We call on members of the Senate Judiciary Committee to stop these confirmation hearings until Mr. Mueller’s investigation is complete.

We also call on the White House and Republicans to release all the documents related to Judge Kavanaugh so that senators can have a complete record with which to evaluate his nomination.

We urge our readers to call Virginia’s U.S. senators, Mark R. Warner and Tim Kaine, as well as Republican Sen. Chuck Grassley, chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee that is holding the hearings, and members of the committee to tell them to suspend the confirmation process for Judge Kavanaugh until the Mueller investigation is complete.

The Senate switchboard number is (202) 224-3121.

It is imperative that our democracy not be pulverized by a president or lawmakers motivated by their self-interests. America and Americans deserve better than that.