Sen. Cory Booker (D-N.J.) called on Judge Brett Kavanaugh on Friday to recuse himself — if he is confirmed to the U.S. Supreme Court — from all cases arising from special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation of allegations that aides to President Donald Trump’s 2016 campaign colluded with Russian interests.
“To avoid the prospect that President Trump could effectively choose a judge in his own case, I request that you pledge to recuse yourself from any cases related to the special counsel’s investigation and any that otherwise may immediately impact the president and his associates as it relates to the ongoing criminal investigation should you be confirmed,” Booker wrote in a letter made public Friday.
Kavanaugh would replace the retiring Justice Anthony Kennedy if the Senate confirms him. If Kavanaugh joins the high court, he would be expected to give the tribunal a solid conservative majority of judges committed to being faithful to the original intent of the founders in the Constitution.
Booker issued the letter in response to a video showing Kavanaugh’s support for overturning the legality of the independent counsel statute. He argues that his stance is troubling given that the president is the subject of a special counsel probe led by Robert Mueller.
A White House spokesman told Yahoo News that Booker’s request should be seen in light of his stated opposition to any Supreme Court nominee put forth by Trump.
“Sen. Booker is not taking the Senate’s constitutional duty to ‘advise and consent’ seriously, which is why he called the judge’s nomination a ‘nonstarter’ the moment he was announced, before meeting with him or reviewing his record,” said deputy press secretary Raj Shah.
“What he has demanded would violate the bedrock constitutional principle of judicial independence by pressuring a sitting judge to pledge any decision on a particular matter or case, including the decision whether to hear the case, for political reasons,” Shah continued.
The special counsel investigation has been looking into allegations that Trump campaign aides colluded with Russian interests during the presidential election of 2016. Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein appointed Mueller to lead the investigation last year after Attorney General Jeff Sessions recused himself.
“The American public must have full confidence that the integrity of any decisions handed down by the Supreme Court on these matters will not be tainted by any impropriety or the appearance of impropriety from the president’s selection of you.”
Senate Democrats have also been demanding documents related to Kavanaugh’s time working for the White House under former President George W. Bush. CNN reported that they are even holding off meeting with him until they get what they want. But those demands could delay the confirmation process significantly, something many Democrats were planning to do before a nominee was even announced.
Kavanaugh previously served in the White House as a senior associate counsel and assistant to the president. He was later able to navigate a Senate confirmation when Bush nominated him to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit, a position he has held since 2006.
The special counsel investigation has faced its own accusations of misconduct as well. The House Judiciary Committee and House Oversight and Government Reform Committee launched a joint investigation last year, which is looking in part into what led to the investigation in the first place.
Booker will have the chance to vote on his nomination before it goes onto the Senate floor as a member of the Senate Judiciary Committee.