Dear Senate Democrats: No SCOTUS Pick For A President Under Investigation

03/20/2017 07:29 pm ET Updated Mar 23, 2017
Neil Gorsuch is the nominee of a President whose legitimacy is in question.
Photo by Joe Ravi, via Wikimedia Commons
Neil Gorsuch is the nominee of a President whose legitimacy is in question.

Dear Senate Democrats,

Millions of Americans already believe that the sitting President of the United States colluded with a foreign power to commit espionage, with a goal of producing damning information on his opponent that would sway the election in his favor.

Given this context, James Comey’s revelation on March 20th before the House Intelligence Committee was seismic: the FBI Director admitted that his agency is investigating ties between the sitting President’s campaign and Russian interference in the 2016 election.

The American people demand the following:

  • A formal, independent investigation into the Russian hacking of the election, including all of the former and ongoing personal, financial and political ties between Trump’s team and Russia.
  • The release of the ten most recent years of Donald Trump’s tax returns, so that the American people can know the extent to which the President and his family are beholden to foreign governments – especially Russia. Unearthing tax returns provides context for further investigation into whether and how the President is in violation of the Emoluments Clause of the Constitution. Millions believe, are equally appalled and deeply concerned that the President and his family are profiting off of the office and accepting gifts from foreign governments that may prompt decision-making that is not in the best interests of the American people.

These are completely legitimate demands that have the best interests of the American public at heart. We want neither a conspirator in the Oval Office, nor an avalanche of conspiracy theories that undermine trust in American democratic institutions. We need cold, hard facts and a fair, legal, non-partisan process for investigation.

Meanwhile, as you know, a Supreme Court seat sits vacant. Hearings are underway for the nominee of a potentially illegitimate President. To our demands above, we add the following:

  • Senate Democrats must filibuster the confirmation process for Judge Neil Gorsuch and explicitly connect that filibuster directly to our two demands above.

Basing a filibuster on retribution over Senate Republicans’ obstruction of Merrick Garland’s nomination or on Gorsuch’s conservative stances on key issues is moot at this point. The nominating of a Supreme Court Justice is one of the most critical roles of a President. There are too many questions hanging around this presidency to hand over this honor, which can impact the Court for decades, without more scrutiny. The identity of the nominee is entirely beside the point; the filibuster must be linked to the nominator himself. This President – whose very legitimacy is being called into question through his campaign’s potential involvement in Russian subterfuge of our election – should not be allowed to have a nominee confirmed through to the Court or even considered until all questions are resolved.

If the Trump Administration has nothing to hide, then the investigation may take some time, but should be fairly painless. Let’s test that hypothesis. Apply the pressure and use what leverage you have, Senators. Make a McConnell SCOTUS filibuster override synonymous with protecting Donald Trump from meaningful investigation. We’ll see how that goes for the Republicans.

Originally published as “An Open Letter to Senate Democrats” on 02/26/17, now updated given FBI Director James Comey’s testimony on 03/20/17.

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