Senate Democrats Want Brett Kavanaugh's Confirmation Delayed, But The GOP Is Pushing Back

By Renae Reints
Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images News/Getty Images

Senate Democrats are seeking a delay in the U.S. Supreme Court nominee's confirmation hearing Wednesday in light of recent legal proceedings surrounding the president's former personal lawyer and former campaign manager. They're arguing Trump should not nominate a judge who may have to decide if that very president will head to court. But can Senate Democrats actually delay Brett Kavanaugh's confirmation?

Democrats seem hopeful, but Republicans say this is just another liberal attempt to slow down the appointment of Trump's Supreme Court nomination. The Democrats' ethical concerns could have some validity, however, as Tuesday brought news that Trump was involved in hush-money payments before his election — an allegation he has admitted, but claimed is not illegal.

Trump's former lawyer, Michael Cohen, pleaded guilty to eight criminal counts. One of these included payments to two women who allegedly had affairs with Trump prior to his presidential campaign (Trump has denied these affairs). Cohen said he made these hush-money payments "in coordination and at the direction of a candidate for federal office," CNN reports.

Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders said Wednesday that Trump has done "nothing wrong" in relation to the hush-money payments, CNN reports. But if Trump is indicted or subpoenaed in relation to either these payments, the Supreme Court may have to decide if a sitting president must comply with such processes.

"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," Senate Minority Leader Charles E. Schumer (D-NY) said, according to The Washington Post. "The prospect of the president being implicated in some criminal case is no longer a hypothetical that can be dismissed."

In fact, for some senators, this conflict of interest was enough for them to cancel meetings with Kavanaugh or simply refuse to meet with him. Senator Ed Markey (D-MA) said on Twitter that Kavanaugh's "nomination is tainted and should be considered illegitimate."

Senator Mazie Hirono (D-HI) said in her announcement cancelling her meeting with Kavanaugh that "this President, who is an unindicted co-conspirator in a criminal matter, does not deserve the courtesy of a meeting with his nominee—purposely selected to protect, as we say in Hawaii, his own okole."

Senator Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH) said the hearing should be delayed because "there must be checks and balances on this President."

Republicans, however, disagree. They wish Kavanaugh's confirmation hearing to move forward as planned.

"That’s an important position, and he’s very qualified for it, and there’s no reason to hold that up," Senator Orrin Hatch (R-UT) told the Post.

Senator Chuck Grassley (R-IA), chair of the Senate Judiciary Committee, said in a statement that he will not delay Kavanaugh's hearing.

"There’s no precedent for delaying a hearing in these circumstances. In fact, there’s clear precedent pointing the other way," said Grassley, citing the 1994 appointment of Justice Stephen Breyer while then-President Bill Clinton was under investigation for the Whitewater land deal.

While Democrats continue to push for a delay, Republicans are adamant that the confirmation process will occur as planned, starting on Sept. 4.