Sen. Mazie Hirono Won’t Meet Brett Kavanaugh — And Her Reason Has Everything To Do With Trump
Hot on the heels of Michael Cohen's guilty pleas, which implicate the president in multiple campaign finance violations, Senate Democrats are doubling down on their opposition to the newest Supreme Court nominee. On Wednesday, Hawaii's Sen. Mazie Hirono cancelled her meeting with Brett Kavanaugh, saying she doesn't "owe" Trump the courtesy of evaluating his SCOTUS pick.
"I do not owe this President the courtesy to meet with his nominee, Brett Kavanaugh, who, by the way, is being nominated because the President expects Justice Kavanaugh, should he make it to the Supreme Court, to basically protect the President's 'okole,' as we say in Hawaii," Hirono told CNN's Wolf Blitzer in an interview. Hirono used the term "okole" a few times in her statement — in Hawaiian, it means buttocks.
Democratic Sens. Cory Booker of New Jersey, Chuck Schumer of New York, Dianne Feinstein of California, and others have been vocal on Twitter, as well as on the Senate floor, about delaying Kavanaugh's confirmation hearing. They argue that a president currently under investigation — and now implicated indirectly as a co-conspirator in campaign finance violations — should not be allowed to choose a justice for the court that might be responsible for hearing his case in the future. Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders said Wednesday that President Trump has done nothing wrong.
"From the very beginning we, Democrats, have called for a delay in terms of a hearing," Hirono told Blitzer.
She also criticized Republican Majority Leader Mitch McConnell's role in rushing Kavanaugh's nomination through the Senate, in contrast to his decision to delay hearings on President Obama's SCOTUS nominee, Merrick Garland, until after Obama left office.
“What is the… rush to get this person on the Supreme Court?" she said. "Well, I think the rush is that the president wants someone on the Court who will protect his okole." Kavanaugh has previously written that he does not believe that a sitting president should be subject to civil or criminal investigations, because, he argues, they would distract from the job of being president. Democrats like Hirono speculate that Trump specifically chose Kavanaugh for his opinions on presidential indictments, fearing a potential showdown in special counsel Robert Mueller's Russia probe.
And although Democrats can only guess at where Mueller's investigation will end up, reports have shown it steadily closing in on Trump's inner circle. The special counsel is reportedly digging in to Donald Trump Jr.'s infamous Trump Tower meeting, and over the weekend, The New York Times reported that White House lawyer Don McGahn is cooperating with Mueller's team. On Tuesday, Trump's former campaign chairman, Paul Manafort, was found guilty on eight charges of financial crime (Trump has been vocal about the fact that the Manafort case has nothing to do with him). Perhaps most significant is Michael Cohen's flip against the president, and the string of accusations he subsequently released, from claiming Trump was aware of the 2016 Trump Tower meeting, to releasing the tape in which he discussed hush money payments with then-candidate Trump. Finally on Tuesday, Cohen appeared in court, pleading guilty to tax fraud, faulty bank statements, and, at what he said was Trump's direction, arranging hush money payments to women who claimed to have had an affair with Trump.
It remains unclear the extent to which Cohen is willing to cooperate with the Mueller investigation, but should his allegations be true, Democrats' worst fears about Kavanaugh's confirmation could become reality over the next few months.