Republicans Reject Delaying Kavanaugh Hearing After Cohen Plea

(Bloomberg) -- Senate Judiciary Chairman Chuck Grassley rejected Democratic calls to delay the hearing for Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh, dismissing their argument that the guilty plea by Donald Trump’s former attorney Michael Cohen implicates the president in a case that may ultimately come before the high court.

"The hearing will begin as planned on September 4,” George Hartmann, Grassley’s spokesman, wrote in an email Wednesday.

"Justice Breyer’s confirmation occurred when President Clinton’s records had been subpoenaed by a grand jury," he said, referring to Justice Stephen Breyer, who was nominated in 1994. "Obviously, we are nowhere close to that situation today. Calls to delay the hearing are just the latest tactic from opponents who decided to vote ‘no’ weeks ago frantically looking for anything that sticks."

Senator Susan Collins of Maine, considered a key Republican vote on Kavanaugh, also said she saw "no basis" for a delay in the confirmation hearing.

Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer earlier in the day urged the hearing be delayed because of Cohen’s guilty plea Tuesday in New York. Among other charges, Cohen pleaded guilty to campaign finance violations over hush money paid to a former porn actress and a former Playboy model, all but naming Trump as “the candidate” who ordered him to do it.

"A president, identified as an unindicted co-conspirator of a federal crime – an accusation made not by a political enemy but by the closest of his own confidants – is on the verge of making a lifetime appointment to the Supreme Court," Schumer said on the Senate floor. "At the very least, the very least, 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."

Schumer said Kavanaugh would not tell him whether presidents should even have to comply with subpoenas in criminal cases with national security at stake.

"If Judge Kavanaugh truly believes that no sitting president, including President Trump, must answer for crimes he may or may not have committed, then he should not become Justice Kavanaugh, with the power to make those views manifest in our books of law," Schumer said.

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