President Trump seemingly suggested on Wednesday that the protests that interrupted Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh’s confirmation hearings should be illegal.
On the first day of Kavanaugh’s confirmation hearings before the Senate Judiciary Committee, capitol police arrested 70 people who engaged in spontaneous nonviolent protests throughout the day.
Protesters had messages ranging from the rushed process of Republicans attempting to confirm President Trump’s second Supreme Court pick despite the White House blocking the release of 100,000 pages of documents relating to Kavanaugh’s record, to the possibility of the landmark abortion case Roe vs. Wade being overturned if Kavanaugh is confirmed, as well as the potential for Kavanaugh voting to overturn the Affordable Care Act.
When staunch pro-Trump blog The Daily Caller interviewed the president in the Oval Office about the protests, Trump suggested that those who were loudly expressing dissent during the hearings were engaging in illegal activity.
“I’m amazed that people allow the interruptions to continue… There [are] some people that just keep screaming,” Trump said. “In the old days, we used to throw them out. Today, I guess they just keep screaming.”
“I don’t know why they don’t take care of a situation like that. I think it’s embarrassing for the country to allow protestors. You don’t even know what side the protestors are on,” he added.
Trump’s condemnation of nonviolent protesters harkens back to his harsh treatment of people who staged protests during his 2016 campaign rallies. During a 2016 rally in Cedar Rapids, Iowa, Trump once asked members of the crowd to “knock the crap out of” anyone who interrupted him speaking. Then-candidate Trump also once suggested he would pay for any legal fees incurred by any of his supporters who assaulted protesters.
President Trump’s decision to pick Kavanaugh ignited a firestorm of controversy, particularly in reference to Kavanaugh’s past writings hinting that he believed presidents should be immune from criminal and civil legal proceedings while in office with the exception of an impeachment investigation. Protests continued throughout day two of the hearings, and more protests are expected in coming hearings.
Given that Trump is embroiled in an investigation over whether or not his campaign colluded with Russia during the 2016 election, and given that no sitting president has never been convicted of a crime while in office, it’s possible any matter involving Trump’s culpability in the investigation could come before the Supreme Court. Kavanaugh has not yet committed to recusing himself from any matters involving Trump and the Mueller investigation should be be confirmed, and should the case come before the court.
Scott Alden is a freelance contributor covering national politics, education, and environmental issues. He is a proud Toledo University graduate, and lives in the suburbs of Detroit.