Sometimes Senator Jeff Flake (R-AZ) talks a good game but does not follow through — even though he is not running for election. Other times, he takes action, and was this a very good action.
Flake promised to block judicial nominees in the Senate Judiciary Committee, including all of Donald Trump’s lower court picks. Committee chair, Chuck Grassley (R-IA), could not have been happy with Flake’s action. In fact, he canceled the Thursday meeting, which was formally announced.
One of the chair’s aides said that the reason Grassley canceled the scheduled meet was that Flake would not budge from his position that he would block of upcoming nominees. Why would he do that? Flake said that he would block every single one until he got a floor vote to protect Special Counsel Robert Mueller from political chicanery.
This was the second meeting Grassley had to cancel due to the Arizona senator. That meant moving 22 nominees for judgeships from floor consideration might not happen by year’s end.
Many politicians on both sides of the aisle fear that the president will find a way to fire Mueller. The special counsel has been investigating the Russian attack on the 2016 presidential election and any Trump campaign conspiracy with Moscow.
Those concerns seem possible. After all, Trump fired Attorney General Jeff Sessions and installed Matt Whitaker as acting attorney general, who could take control of Mueller’s investigation and end it or starve its funding. Whitaker came with his own set of problems, including lawsuits questioning the legality of POTUS installing him under the existing conditions and regarding his earlier business illegalities.
Protect Democracy called on Trump to put a Senate-confirmed attorney general in place of Whitaker. People who signed this statement included both current and former DOJ employees. The statement read, according to NBC News:
‘The Attorney General is responsible for ensuring that we are a nation of laws and that every citizen and every government official — including the President himself — is equally subject to those laws. Because of the profound responsibilities the position entails and the independence it requires, it can only be filled by someone who has been subjected to the strictest scrutiny under the process required by the Constitution. However, the signatories were sufficiently concerned about Whitaker’s appointment and the impact on the rule of law to sign this statement.’
With Flake opposing those nominees, the committee does not have its one-vote advantage. Should the Republicans not protect Mueller, Trump will have to renominate all of them once again in 2019.
Flake told CNN:
‘We can have the markup, I will just vote no.’
For some reason, Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) has not wanted to pass a bipartisan bill protecting Mueller. He claimed that the president had no intention of firing the special counsel, but that was cold comfort to Flake. The Arizona senator knew where to hit McConnell — right in the judges. McConnell illegally withheld President Barack Obama’s SCOTUS from even being heard and blocked Obama’s judicial nominee for almost six years.
The Senate has a slim majority, 51-49. Flake’s vote has been crucial.
Perhaps, Flake was trying to redeem himself.
Grassley and other Republicans on the committee lost a lot of credibility during their hearing for then-Judge Brett Kavanaugh on his way to the Supreme Court (SCOTUS). They refused to take Dr. Christine Blasey Ford’s testimony seriously — her claim that Kavanaugh sexually molested her when they were in high school. The Republicans felt that she was molested, but she did not know who did it. Nevermind that she was an expert on the subject of trauma.
Featured image is a screenshot via YouTube.