HOME



Digby's Hullabaloo
2801 Ocean Park Blvd.
Box 157
Santa Monica, Ca 90405



Facebook: Digby Parton

Twitter:
@digby56
@Gaius_Publius
@BloggersRUs (Tom Sullivan)
@spockosbrain



emails:
Digby:
thedigbyblog at gmail
Dennis:
satniteflix at gmail
Gaius:
publius.gaius at gmail
Tom:
tpostsully at gmail
Spocko:
Spockosbrain at gmail
tristero:
Richardein at me.com








Infomania

Salon
Buzzflash
Mother Jones
Raw Story
Huffington Post
Slate
Crooks and Liars
American Prospect
New Republic


Denofcinema.com: Saturday Night at the Movies by Dennis Hartley review archive

January 2003 February 2003 March 2003 April 2003 May 2003 June 2003 July 2003 August 2003 September 2003 October 2003 November 2003 December 2003 January 2004 February 2004 March 2004 April 2004 May 2004 June 2004 July 2004 August 2004 September 2004 October 2004 November 2004 December 2004 January 2005 February 2005 March 2005 April 2005 May 2005 June 2005 July 2005 August 2005 September 2005 October 2005 November 2005 December 2005 January 2006 February 2006 March 2006 April 2006 May 2006 June 2006 July 2006 August 2006 September 2006 October 2006 November 2006 December 2006 January 2007 February 2007 March 2007 April 2007 May 2007 June 2007 July 2007 August 2007 September 2007 October 2007 November 2007 December 2007 January 2008 February 2008 March 2008 April 2008 May 2008 June 2008 July 2008 August 2008 September 2008 October 2008 November 2008 December 2008 January 2009 February 2009 March 2009 April 2009 May 2009 June 2009 July 2009 August 2009 September 2009 October 2009 November 2009 December 2009 January 2010 February 2010 March 2010 April 2010 May 2010 June 2010 July 2010 August 2010 September 2010 October 2010 November 2010 December 2010 January 2011 February 2011 March 2011 April 2011 May 2011 June 2011 July 2011 August 2011 September 2011 October 2011 November 2011 December 2011 January 2012 February 2012 March 2012 April 2012 May 2012 June 2012 July 2012 August 2012 September 2012 October 2012 November 2012 December 2012 January 2013 February 2013 March 2013 April 2013 May 2013 June 2013 July 2013 August 2013 September 2013 October 2013 November 2013 December 2013 January 2014 February 2014 March 2014 April 2014 May 2014 June 2014 July 2014 August 2014 September 2014 October 2014 November 2014 December 2014 January 2015 February 2015 March 2015 April 2015 May 2015 June 2015 July 2015 August 2015 September 2015 October 2015 November 2015 December 2015 January 2016 February 2016 March 2016 April 2016 May 2016 June 2016 July 2016 August 2016 September 2016 October 2016 November 2016 December 2016 January 2017 February 2017 March 2017 April 2017 May 2017 June 2017 July 2017 August 2017 September 2017 October 2017 November 2017 December 2017 January 2018 February 2018 March 2018 April 2018 May 2018 June 2018 July 2018 August 2018 September 2018 October 2018 November 2018 December 2018


 

This page is powered by Blogger. Isn't yours?

Hullabaloo


Thursday, June 28, 2018

 
Trump could blow his Supreme Court chance --- if Dems play their cards right

by digby



My Salon column this morning is about the Supreme Court. *Sigh*

One of the first major official acts of the Trump administration, when everyone was still shell-shocked and not quite sure how bad it was really going to be, was the nomination of Neil Gorsuch to fill the seat on the Supreme Court that was open following the death of Justice Antonin Scalia the previous year. In an unprecedented act of cynical partisanship, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell essentially stole the seat for the Republicans by brazenly denying a vote for President Obama's nominee for eight months. And he was rewarded for his underhanded exercise of raw political power with a hard right conservative justice who would be dedicated to protecting and advancing the conservative agenda for as far as the eye could see. It was the triumph of his career.

But it almost didn't happen. The Washington Post reported several months later that Trump had nearly withdrawn the Gorsuch nomination before it even came to a vote:
Trump, according to several people with knowledge of the discussions, was upset that Gorsuch had pointedly distanced himself from the president in a private February meeting with Sen. Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.), telling the senator he found Trump's repeated attacks on the federal judiciary "disheartening" and "demoralizing."

The president worried that Gorsuch would not be "loyal," one of the people said, and told aides that he was tempted to pull Gorsuch's nomination — and that he knew plenty of other judges who would want the job...
When Senator Lindsey Graham asked  whether the president might be subject to prosecution, Gorsuch answered, “no man is above the law, no man.” At some point in all this, the Post reported that Trump got livid:
"He's probably going to end up being a liberal like the rest of them," Trump told Republican leaders, according to a person with knowledge of the comments. "You never know with these guys."
The president wasn't just venting. It was serious enough that McConnell had to do some significant hand holding and cajoling to prevent the president from pulling Gorsuch from consideration. Several people confirmed to the Post that Trump was also angry that Gorsuch wasn't sufficiently grateful for the nomination prompting the staff to scramble to find a note the nominee had sent to the president which said, in part:
Your address to Congress was magnificent. And you were so kind to recognize Mrs. Scalia, remember the justice, and mention me. My teenage daughters were cheering the TV!"...The team you have assembled to assist me in the Senate is remarkable and inspiring. I see daily their love of country and our Constitution, and know it is a tribute to you and your leadership for policy is always about personnel. Congratulations again on such a great start.
The note apparently eased the president's mind and he dropped his threats to rescind the nomination. I've seen no reporting that Trump asked Gorsuch personally for a loyalty pledge as he did others but it wouldn't be surprising. In any case, that obsequious thank you note indicates that he got it.

It was not clear at the time that the president himself would be implicated in a massive counterintelligence investigation that would span continents or that inappropriate questions of "loyalty" would lie at the heart of a criminal investigation into whether or not he obstructed justice. But it does fit the pattern.

It may be that in the early days, people around Trump chalked up his behavior to a basic lack of knowledge about how government functions. But from the beginning he has had a weird propensity for demanding personal fealty from powerful cops, prosecutors and judges. He may not be schooled in political science, but he knows how the Mob works.

Today we know that Trump may very well have been thinking more personally when he demanded loyalty from some of these people. He is facing very serious legal trouble, some of which may very well end up before the Supreme Court. The court could be asked to decide whether a sitting president can be indicted and whether he must comply with a grand jury subpoena. They might even have to rule on whether a president can pardon himself. There are cases about the U.S. Constitution's emoluments clause working their way through the courts. Will there be cases pertaining to Trump's taxes or to various forms of fraud uncovered in the Cohen investigation? Will he have to sit for a deposition in the Stormy Daniels case? The man is a walking legal nightmare.

And yet, with the retirement of Justice Anthony Kennedy, he will get to choose yet another of the justices who may well decide his fate. Will Trump privately demand his or her loyalty too? Will he get it?

So far, Democrats seem to be pinning their hopes on the argument that it would be hypocritical for McConnell not to delay the vote until after the midterm election in November, since he did that to Obama. That's very unlikely to work. McConnell will smirk and say, "What is this hypocrisy you speak of?"

There is some talk about getting retiring Sen. Jeff Flake, R-Ariz., to stand by his pledge not to allow any judges to be confirmed until Trump lifts his tariffs. But if history is any guide, Flake will not be the guy who stands in the way of a right-wing Supreme Court justice. The most serious strategy is to pressure pro-choice Sens. Lisa Murkowski, R-Alaska, and Susan Collins, R-Maine, to vote against any Trump nominee, on the reasonable assumption that Trump's pledge only to choose anti-abortion judges means that with one more conservative on the Supreme Court there will now be the votes to overturn Roe v. Wade.

That probably has the best chance of blocking the nomination, but it too is a long shot. The nominees will be well coached to say they have a completely open mind and will always respect precedent. Both of those senators' commitments to principle and common sense will be tested as never before.

Considering his mercurial nature, it's also possible Trump himself could destroy the nomination with some ill-timed tweet or a temper tantrum. He no longer listens to anyone, so it's doubtful that McConnell would be able to talk him down a second time. So perhaps another strategy for Democrats would be to press the nominee as aggressively as possible in public hearings about all the potential Trump crimes in detail and dare him to be "disloyal" while the president is watching.

Since it's absolutely true that no man should be able to choose his own judge, they could ask if the nominee plans to recuse himself from any of these potential Trump cases. We know how Trump feels about his minions' recusing themselves. He's said many times that if Jeff Sessions had told him he was going to do that, he would have withdrawn Sessions' nomination as attorney general. Maybe the president would well and truly sabotage himself this time.