Another Trump Supreme Court Pick Could Imperil the Russia Investigation. Here’s How.
Key questions in the Russia investigation could very likely end up before the Supreme Court – and decided by a new Trump appointee.
- Trump and his accomplices are advancing increasingly outlandish arguments designed to derail Special Counsel Robert Mueller and his team, from denouncing the investigation as unconstitutional to claiming—contrary to precedent, case law, constitutional history, and logic—that he can pardon himself and obstruct justice with total impunity.
- One or more of these topics will almost certainly reach the Supreme Court, just as it did in Watergate.
- Allowing Trump to choose the arbiter of his case offers a dangerous opportunity to obstruct justice and escape accountability.
Trump demands loyalty pledges from those he appoints to key positions.
- Trump has a history of demanding personal loyalty, including from those investigating him, and directing those in the highest levels of government to stop the probe – often even railing against Jeff Sessions for not doing so.
- There’s little doubt Trump would continue the pattern and demand loyalty from a Supreme Court Justice – especially one who may be a crucial vote in any legal action related to the Russia scandal.
- A lawyer quoted in Josh Marshall’s piece this morning sums these point up: “Never before has the selection of a Supreme Court nominee been so thoroughly compromised by the president’s profound personal interest in appointing a judge the president can count on to protect the President.”
A lot has changed since Gorsuch was confirmed. Gorsuch was nominated before the public even knew there was a Russia investigation. We now know that Trump is the subject of a criminal investigation that could challenge his very legitimacy.
The Russian attack on our democracy continues and, worse, Trump continues to encourage it and reward it while the Republican-controlled Congress has been AWOL. The Supreme Court is the last check against this attack.
- Since Gorsuch, Trump fired former FBI Director James Comey. He then admited on live television that he did it to stop that investigation.
- Pubic knowledge of the scope of Russian interference continues to grow: from illegally hacking and releasing thousands of emails from top Democratic officials to spending millions advertising on social media to allegedly funneling money into the Trump campaign through the National Rifle Association.
- Since Gorsuch’s appointment, 23 people and companies have been indicted, including Trump’s national security advisor, his campaign manager, his deputy campaign manager, and one of his foreign policy advisors. Three campaign officials have pleaded guilty to Russia-related crimes. And another one of his foreign policy advisors was reportedly suspected to by the FBI to be a Russian agent (which he has denied).
- There were at least 82 contacts and meetings between members of Trump’s campaign and representatives of the Kremlin.
Trump and his Congressional accomplices are still working to impede the investigation at every turn. The Supreme Court is a critical check against Russia’s ongoing attack on American democracy.
Trump has created an impossible appearance of conflict for any nominee who now has the onus of proving they are not another part of Trump’s attack on the rule of law. Any nominee put forward under these circumstances must agree to recuse him or herself from any case related to an investigation of the president or his associates.