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Obama Nominee for Ambassador Dies After Waiting 830 Days for Confirmation, Thanks To One GOP Senator

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‘A Way to Inflict Special Pain on the President’

Two years, three months, and nineteen days before her death, President Barack Obama nominated Cassandra Butts (photo) to become the next Ambassador to the Bahamas. A graduate of Harvard Law School, Butts had worked as an election observer in the 2000 Zimbabwean parliamentary elections, worked closely with the NAACP, and served as Deputy White House Council. Her qualifications not in dispute, all that remained was a routine Senate confirmation.

It was not to be. Blocking Obama administration appointments has long been a popular tactic by Republican senators attempting to inflict political damage, retribution or embarrassment on the president. 

But for Arkansas Republican Senator Tom Cotton Senator Tom Cotton politics is personal.

After reports that the Secret Service had released private information about a congressional colleague, Sen. Cotton placed three ambassador nominations on hold, including that of Butts, in order to prompt action from the Obama administration. Eventually, after assurances from the Obama administration that they took Secret Service misconduct seriously, Cotton lifted two of the holds. Only one remained, the nomination for Ambassador to the Bahamas, Cassandra Butts.

In a New York Times an op-ed by Frank Bruni, who had spoken to Butts about the standoff two weeks before her death, Butts confronted Cotton over his continued hold. “She told me that she once went to see [Sen. Tom Cotton] about it, and he explained that he knew that she was a close friend of Obama’s — the two first encountered each other on a line for financial-aid forms at Harvard Law School, where they were classmates — and that blocking her was a way to inflict special pain on the president.”

Bruni contacted a spokesman from Cotton’s office, who did not dispute the details of meeting, going on to stress that Cotton had “enormous respect for her and her career.” For Tom Cotton, being qualified for a position has nothing to do with appointing someone to that position. This was personal. All she could do was wait for more reasonable heads to prevail.

On May 26, 2016, after a brief and aggressive battle with acute leukemia, Cassandra Butts died waiting. It had been more than 830 days since she was first nominated. She was 50 years old. Her nomination remains pending before the United States Senate.

 

Image by Center for American Progress via Flickr and a CC license
Hat tip: Max Brantley, Editor of Arkansas Times’ Arkansas Blog

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Kayleigh McEnany Says Trump ‘Very Likely’ Will Nominate New Supreme Court Justice Before Ruth Bader Ginsburg is Buried

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White House press secretary Kayleigh McEnany says President Donald Trump will announce his nominee to the U.S. Supreme Court, mostly likely by Tuesday. The late Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg will lie in repose at the Supreme Court. The date of her funeral, which will be a private ceremony at Arlington National Cemetery, has not even been announced yet.

Asked if the nomination would be announced “before Wednesday,” she replied, “I think that’s very likely.”

MSNBC’s Andrea Mitchell Monday morning also hinted the announcement would come Tuesday.

 

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OPINION

‘This Is for the People to Decide’: Jaw-Dropping CNN Supercut Lays Bare the GOP’s Stunning Hypocrisy on SCOTUS

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As the battle over replacing Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg — who died Friday from complications of pancreatic cancer — takes shape in Washington, D.C., Republican senators who previously refused to hold a vote on former President Barack Obama’s Supreme Court pick are now having their words thrown in their faces.

CNN anchor Anderson Cooper on Saturday played a devastating supercut that features Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX), Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY), and Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC) explaining why they would not vote on Obama’s nominee to replace Justice Antonin Scalia in 2016.

“I want you to use my words against me,” Graham said in 2016 — laying out what Cooper described as an “eerily similar” situation as the one currently playing out in Congress. “If there’s a Republican president in 2016 and a vacancy occurs in the last year of the first term, you can say, ‘Lindsey Graham said let’s let the next president, whoever it might be, make that nomination,’ and you could use my words against me and you would be absolutely right.”

“We’re setting a precedent here today, Republicans are, that in the last year, at least of a lame duck eight-year term, I would say it’s going to be a four-year term, that you’re not going to fill a vacancy of the Supreme Court based on what we’re doing here today,” he added. “That’s going to be the new rule.”

In his own floor speech on the matter in 2016, McConnell likewise urged Congress to give the American people a say in the Supreme Court pick.

“The next justice could fundamentally alter the direction of the Supreme Court and have a profound impact on our country. So, of course, of course the American people should have a say in the court’s direction,” McConnell said.

Cruz — who was shortlisted by Trump as a potential SCOTUS pick earlier this month — also insisted in 2016 that Congress should not move to replace Scalia until after the election.

“I don’t think we should be moving forward on a nominee in the last year of this president’s term, Cruz said. “I would say that if it was a republican president.”

“President Obama is eager to appoint Justice Scalia’s replacement this year,” he continued. “But do you know in the last 80 years we have not once has the Senate confirmed a nomination made in an election year and now is no year to start. This is for the people to decide. I intend to make 2016 a referendum on the U.S. Supreme Court.”

Of course, all three men have now signaled they’re much more likely in 2020 to jam a conservative Supreme Court justice down voters’ throats on the eve of an election. After President Donald Trump on Saturday tweeted that the Senate has an “obligation” select a replacement for Ginsburg, Graham said he “fully” understands where the president is coming from.

In case that statement seems vague, the Senate Judiciary Committee chairman added: ”I will support President [Trump] in any effort to move forward regarding the recent vacancy created by the passing of Justice Ginsburg.”

And McConnell has also insisted “President Trump’s nominee will receive a vote on the floor of the United States Senate.”

And in perhaps the least surprising flip-flop of all, Cruz on Saturday wrote an opinion piece for Fox News that outlined 3 reasons why the Senate must confirm Ginsburg’s replacement before election day. In it, he touted Trump’s “list of extremely qualified, principled constitutionalists who could serve on the Supreme Court” — which, of course, included himself — and argued that going into an election with an 8 person bench could trigger a constitutional crisis in the event of a contested election.

Amazing how now of the senators were concerned with such a problem when Obama appointed his nominee.

Watch the video below to see the blatant hypocrisy for yourself:

 

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RIGHT WING EXTREMISTS

‘You Don’t See Any Hypocrisy?’ Chris Wallace Filets Tom Cotton by Replaying His Merrick Garland Speech

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Fox News host Chris Wallace accused Sen. Tom Cotton (R-AR) of hypocrisy on Sunday after he vowed to push forward with a vote to replace Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg in an election year.

“Why the rush to judgement?” Wallace asked Cotton after the senator promised a swift vote on President Donald Trump’s eventual nominee.

“We’re not going to rush,” Cotton insisted. “We not going to skip steps. We’re going to move forward without delay.”

Wallace reminded Cotton that President Barack Obama named Judge Merrick Garland as his nominee after Justice Antonin Scalia died in 2016.

“Senate Republicans blocked the choice of Garland,” Wallace noted before playing a clip of Cotton defending the move at the time.

In the clip, Cotton notes that the country will have a new president “in a few short months.”

“Why would we cut off the national debate about this next justice?” Cotton says in the clip. “Why would we squelch the voice of the people, why would we deny the voters a chance to weigh in on the make up of the Supreme Court?”

Wallace continued following the clip: “Garland was nominated nine months before the election and you were saying then, nine months before the election, it was wrong to deny voters a chance to weigh in. So if it was wrong then nine months before the election, why is it OK now six weeks before the election?”

For his part, Cotton argued that Republicans won the Senate in 2014 to stop President Barack Obama’s judicial nominations, and then he claimed that the current Republican Senate is in power to uphold nominations by President Donald Trump.

“You really don’t think there is any hypocrisy at all,” Wallace pressed, “in saying, we need to give voters — because you can parse the 2014 election, the 2018 election any way you want — but you stated a pretty firm principle in 2016 about Merrick Garland: It’s wrong to deny voters a chance to weigh in.”

“You don’t see any hypocrisy between that position then and this position now?” the Fox News host wondered.

“Chris, the Senate majority is performing our constitutional duty and fulfilling the mandate that the voters gave us,” Cotton opined.

Watch the video below from Fox News.

 

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