Brett Kavanaugh’s appointment to fill the Supreme Court seat vacated by Anthony Kennedy should be seen as a ticking clock for Special Counsel Robert Mueller to finish his investigation before the senate confirms him.
As has been widely reported, Kavanaugh has argued that presidents should not have to be subjected to criminal investigations or civil lawsuits while in office due to the weighty duties of the executive branch. While Kavanaugh naively believes that Congress would hold a president accountable through the impeachment process — thus negating an outside criminal investigation like the one Mueller is leading right now — this current Congress has shown time and again that it is incapable of serving as an independent check on presidential power run amok.
By all counts, President Trump has committed numerous impeachable offenses that a Republican Congress wouldn’t think twice about introducing impeachment charges for had former President Barack Obama done the same.
When several House Democrats last year introduced five articles of impeachment against Trump, the listed offenses — accepting emoluments from foreign governments, endangering the free press, and obstruction of justice due to the firing of former FBI Director James Comey — were all factual. Trump has accepted gifts from foreign governments, called the media “the enemy of the American people,” and told NBC’s Lester Holt that the FBI’s Russia investigation played a role in his decision to fire Comey. However, no other Democrats supported impeachment at the time, and Republicans were united in their opposition to impeachment. It’s safe to say that Kavanaugh’s hypothesis that Congress would impeach Trump if he broke the law is based in fantasy.
That being said, Mueller’s ongoing investigation into both potential obstruction of justice and collusion is the only thing that could hold President Trump accountable. If constitutional issues that arise from the Mueller investigation go before the Supreme Court, and if Kavanaugh is confirmed before that happens, a 5-4 decision to throw out any potential indictments against Trump with Kavanaugh as the deciding vote is highly likely. And should that happen, the rule of law in America will be finished, as a sitting President will have effectively neutered the two other branches of government the founders established to check presidential power.
Earlier this month, Bloomberg reported that Special Counsel Mueller hired more prosecutors to help with the investigation, which is already being handled by 17 different seasoned federal prosecutors. Despite the probe securing five guilty pleas and nearly two dozen indictments, it shows no signs of ending anytime soon, as the investigation has gone from just examining potential Russian involvement in the Trump campaign to Trump’s personal finances.
Even though legal experts have said that a sitting president can likely not be charged with any crimes committed while in office, The Washington Post suggested that Mueller’s team may find that the Trump Organization was used as a conduit for Russian money laundering — a federal crime punishable by up to 20 years in prison. And if Trump himself was involved with or had knowledge of any possible money laundering operations before he was in office, he could still potentially stand trial.
Whatever Mueller and his team find, it’s likely that if any criminal indictments against a sitting president are to be introduced (a first in U.S. history), the matter would almost certainly come before the U.S. Supreme Court. And if Kavanaugh is on the bench for that hearing, all of Mueller’s work over the last year and a half could be rendered meaningless with his vote alone.
If Senate Democrats are serious about protecting the credibility of Mueller’s investigation, they should do all they can to stop Kavanaugh’s confirmation. The future of the Republic may depend on it.