Trump’s consigliere

As much damage as Trump is doing to the nation today, his most lasting harm will be the generation of judges who will still have their jobs long after we’ve tried to forget him.

RUTH BADER GINSBURG appears before the Senate Judiciary Committee for her Supreme Court confirmation hearing in 1993 – holding a sign made by her grandson. (photo credit: GARY HERSHORN/REUTERS)
RUTH BADER GINSBURG appears before the Senate Judiciary Committee for her Supreme Court confirmation hearing in 1993 – holding a sign made by her grandson.
(photo credit: GARY HERSHORN/REUTERS)
Nothing exposes the moral void that is Mitch McConnell more than the occasional reports of Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg’s health problems. The Notorious RBG, 86, has had two bouts with cancer and each health scare excites Republicans and gives Democrats palpitations.
And each reminds us of the Senate majority leader’s repugnant handling of President Barack Obama’s 2016 nomination of Judge Merrick Garland to the Supreme Court and McConnell’s refusal even to permit a single hearing, much less a vote on his candidacy.
His excuse was that it was within a year of the election and filling the vacancy left by the death of Antonin Scalia should be await the election results. It was a clear violation of the constitution and a partisan abuse of power but the Kentucky Republican, who had vowed to make Obama’s presidency a failure, had the votes.
McConnell’s animus toward Obama seemed to color a lot of his actions. In a discussion of reparations for slavery, he said African-Americans didn’t need it because they got a black president. I suppose that means if we elect a Jewish president, the Holocaust can be forgotten.
McConnell left no doubt that blocking Garland was a purely partisan ploy, when he recently said that if another vacancy occurs in the next 11 months, he would use all his power to ram through anyone President Donald Trump nominates. That’s scary because we’ve seen the kind of people Trump picks for seats on federal benches at all levels.
More than 20 Trump judicial nominees, plus his choice for deputy attorney-general, have refused to affirm Brown v. Board of Education, the landmark Supreme Court decision desegregating public schools, NPR has reported. Apparently in white supremacist Trump-land, segregation is still an option.
Using his majority to change Senate rules, McConnell sees filling vacancies on courts, federal agencies and other posts as his highest priority. He boasts “we are in the personnel business,” primarily populating the courts with arch-conservatives of questionable qualifications.
As much damage as Trump is doing to the nation today, his most lasting harm will be the generation of judges who will still have their jobs long after we’ve tried to forget him.
His facilitator is McConnell, whom Sen. Tina Smith (D-Minnesota), called “a big fat waste.” He “has transformed the Senate into little more than the Trump administration’s personnel office, the place where good ideas go to die.”
McConnell would probably consider that a compliment. He takes great pride in calling himself “the grim reaper of Democratic legislation.”
Trump trumpets charges of a “do-nothing Congress” preoccupied with impeachment in-stead of legislation. He knows better, but it works for him.
Trump refuses to work with the Democrats, preferring instead to complain and accuse them of being fixated on impeachment.
The truth – an alien concept for this president – is that the Democratic-controlled House has actually passed more than 400 bills, most on bipartisan votes, only to see them die in McConnell’s Senate graveyard. Only 70 bills have been signed into law this year, according to Vox.com, a fraction of recent years, and 10 of those were for renaming public buildings.
Even senior Republicans like Finance Committee Chairman Sen. Chuck Grassley complain that McConnell is blocking his bill on prescription drug pricing; he also refuses to bring up a House version, reportedly under pressure from big pharma. Trump blames Democrats for lack of action, but he appears unwilling to push McConnell to bring up any version, happy just to say his failure to deliver is all Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s fault.

AS THE House moves toward impeachment, McConnell has said he would hold a trial and not prevent it by using Senate rules to dismiss charges on a simple majority vote at the outset, but he could do that at any time afterwards. He will be the president’s point man to make sure it is “inconceivable” that the Senate will convict Trump.
Despite the mountain of evidence of Russian election meddling in 2016 and continuing today, McConnell has blocked election security legislation. He called the reform measures a partisan ploy by Democrats and should be left to the states. He also undercut Obama’s effort to win bipartisan condemnation of Russian meddling in 2016. Such actions have earned him the well-deserved sobriquet “Moscow Mitch.”
He and Trump both are more interested in discrediting accurate reports of Russian interference than in dealing with the problem. It’s no secret Trump fears Russian exposure would delegitimize his election.
How does Trump know Russia didn’t interfere in his election, but Ukraine did? Putin told him so. That may explain why Trump destroyed the interpreter’s notes from his one-on-one meeting with the Russian leader in Helsinki.
When McConnell is not ramming through more conservative judges, killing Democratic legislation and blocking any election reform, he is raising money – in fact, they’re pretty much the same thing for him. McConnell’s long career has been marked by his crusade to block any and all campaign finance reform legislation. His goal is unlimited, unregulated, anonymous campaign giving where voters have no idea who is buying which candidate.
A major contributor of “more than $1 million” to his campaigns and PACs tied to him has been the Chao family, according to a New York Times report. The giant shipping company is run by Angela Chao, the sister of McConnell’s wife, Elaine Chao, who just happens to be Trump’s secretary of transportation. The Times suggested McConnell’s wife has “boosted the profile of her family’s shipping company.”
The Times, Wall Street Journal and other publications have raised questions about Secretary Chao’s ties to the family business. They have also reported that requests from the Kentucky senior senator’s office get special treatment. Politico has said that a top Chao aide has “helped coordinate grant applications” for her husband’s political allies in the bluegrass state, where he is running for a seventh term.
Chao is safe. There is no way the DOT inspector-general, the Department of Justice or the Congress would investigate the wife of the powerful Senate majority leader.
McConnell is Trump’s consigliere. His insurance policy. Without the majority leader running interference in the Senate, blocking Democratic legislation, pushing nominations, preventing free and fair elections and controlling the impeachment trial, Trump would have to leave town and find another business to bankrupt.