Cory Booker, the democratic senator from New Jersey, is proposing that Trump’s SCOTUS pick should be on hold until the Mueller investigation is concluded.
The reasons put forth are that the Supreme Court may have to decide on several issues that could stem from Mueller’s conclusions. Those conclusions – ranging from obstruction of justice, to collusion, to money laundering – are in regards to a sitting president, not settled law. Each would require the Supreme Court to decide if a sitting president can be indicted let alone compelled to provide testimony if issued a subpoena.
Booker is claiming that these issues will “be on Trump’s mind” in regards to his pick for the court. This Booker says, rightly and obviously, will be a conflict of interest. Booker adds that Trump has made it clear that he views political appointees through the lense of their ability and willingness to pass a “loyalty test.”
Booker is teeing this up as a line of questioning during the looming confirmation hearings. The goal we assume, is that if they cannot get Trump to wait until after Mueller’s investigation ends, and if they cannot convince a few republican senators to agree, then at the very least Booker’s move will raise the issue of Trump’s pick having to recuse himself when the time comes. If he does not recuse himself (and really why would he?)* it may set up a host of reactions including some form of a “constitutional crisis” in which Trump is victorious and we have the establishment of a Trump dictatorship in which Trump and the presidency are above and beyond the law. However, if Trump’s pick is asked to recuse himself, but everyone knows it’s not going to happen, then one must ask what was the point of the confirmation hearing except, as a kind of theater in which the possibility of the court having to rule on Trump’s alleged crimes, while being compromised, is not only kicked down the road but the entire process of governance is turned into a kind of performance art.
Of course that not only suits Trump, for whom the idea of rules and the law are meaningless, but it works for reactionary aristocrats like Mitch McConnell who clearly only view the rules as those things that apply to everyone else. And lastly, it would suit the Ayn Randian neo-fascists, and the Handmaid’s Tale fascists, who would then be secure knowing that the Supreme Court had been turned into a rubber stamp.
For years various commentators have compared America to a banana republic. In a banana republic the constitutional norms are observed but they are hollow; stripped not just of substance but the mechanisms of that substance become arbitrary. The police and the intelligence agencies are empowered to act as they please. The people’s representatives become nothing but decadent figureheads devoid of anything except privilege and, if a member of the ruling clique, power. And then the cult of the leader replaces any semblance of civitates. At that point all of the dystopian nightmares become possible.
For a look at Booker’s argument and strategy, see the following:
*There is another inside baseball angle to the issue of recusal. While McConnell is clearly a Trump Quisling and a reactionary aristocrat with no regard for constitutional norms he does value his power. Letting Trump turn the Supreme Court into a joke may be a political bridge too far. The issue would hinge on whether or not the democrats take control of the House, and the Senate or, as is more likely, gain the House and push the needle in the Senate towards a one vote republican majority. In such a political landscape the democrats might be able to appoint another special counsel to investigate the possibility of a quid pro quo between Trump and his court appointee which would then force the regime to either host a Saturday Night Massacre and establish a true dictatorship with not only a castrated court but a politically compromised Justice Department. In such a scenario, McConnell will be on a tightrope with no net and Trump bouncing on his shoulders screaming to get the fuck over to the other side before they fall. None of which is to suggest Trump isn’t insane and a fascist and a moronic gangster all to willing to declare himself Trump The First. The issue is are the slithering republicans, the military and the intelligence agencies all willing to go off the cliff with him
As we said yesterday regarding Kennedy’s retirement – Welcome to Weimar.