Dispatch July 10, 2018

Would Kavanaugh Recuse Himself From Russia Investigation Matters? He’d Need To.

A president under investigation should not be allowed to pick his own adjudicators. Kavanaugh must pledge unequivocally that, if confirmed, he will recuse himself from all matters related to the Russia investigation immediately. If not, the Senate must wait until that investigation is complete to take action on his nomination.

Brett Kavanaugh has argued  that sitting presidents should be immune to criminal investigations while in office—in other words, that presidents are above the law.

  • The president is the subject of a federal investigation and a topic related to this may appear before the Supreme Court.
  • Kavanaugh, a life-long partisan warrior who believes that presidents should be above the law, is the embodiment of the Trump administration’s ongoing efforts to obstruct justice.
  • The Trump administration knew exactly what it was doing with this pick: According to CNN’s Jim Acosta, the vetting team reviewed “Kavanaugh’s past comments on indicting a sitting president,” meaning they clearly believe he will rule in Trump’s favor.
  • Already, Trump has expressed his regrets that one appointee, Attorney General Jeff Sessions, isn’t doing more to protect the president; there’s little doubt he and his administration would go out of his way to make sure they don’t make the same mistake again.

The Trump administration is making a mockery of the independence of the Supreme Court.

  • Present in the East Room to celebrate the nomination: Rudy Giuliani, the public face of Trump’s criminal-defense team.
  • Kavanaugh’s baseless praise for Trump’s “appreciation for the vital role of the American judiciary” (which Trump has repeatedly undermined and attacked) is an especially suspect statement given Trump’s history of demanding loyalty and flattery.
  • The New York Times has previously reported an extensive campaign by Trump to spur Justice Kennedy’s retirement, including invoking Kennedy’s son, Trump’s key contact at Deutsche Bank.
  • A group connected to one of Kavanaugh’s biggest boosters, the Federalist Society, donated $1 million to Trump’s inauguration fund. Mueller is currently investigating donations to the inauguration fund as he probes whether Russian money found its way into the Trump team’s hands.

Neil Gorsuch was nominated before the public even knew there was a Russia investigation. Now, President Trump is trying to choose his own judge and jury. The Supreme Court needs to remain a critical check against Russia’s ongoing attack on American democracy.

Brett Kavanaugh must not be allowed to derail the Russia investigation. The Senate must demand that, if confirmed, he will recuse himself from all matters related to the investigation into the president and his cronies.