Listen, I understand why Republicans are mad at Dianne Feinstein for waiting until the last minute to refer sexual assault allegations leveled against Brett Kavanaugh to the FBI. Clearly, she should have brought this issue to light immediately so that everyone had time to assess the credibility of the accuser, look into the allegations, etc.
But this is a classic case of “don’t hate the player, hate the game.” Feinstein has seemingly played Republicans like a fiddle here. On Tuesday, lawyers for Kavanaugh’s accuser, Christine Blasey Ford, essentially said that until there’s a full FBI probe of the allegations, Dr. Ford will not be testifying publicly.
That puts the GOP in a really – really – tough spot. Because now, if they move ahead with the public hearing scheduled for next week, that hearing will just involve Kavanaugh detailing how he got drunk in high school and implicitly arguing with an empty chair where Ford should be. Obviously, that’s going to be an even more absurd spectacle than what would have unfolded had his accuser agreed to attend the hearing.
Making matters immeasurably worse, Mark Judge, the man who Ford claims was in the room for the alleged assault, is also refusing to testify publicly even as the media is scrutinizing his memoirs, one of which references a “Bart O’Kavanaugh” who apparently had a penchant for vomiting in vehicles and passing out drunk. Obviously, “Bart” = Brett.
Worse still, footage of a 2015 speech Brett/Bart made at Catholic University of America’s Columbus School of Law, surfaced on Tuesday, and during that speech, Kavanaugh says this:
What happens at Georgetown Prep, stays at Georgetown Prep. That’s been a good thing for all of us.
In case it isn’t clear enough, Republicans are now staring down an impossible Catch-22. If they move ahead with the hearing without Ford, they’ll open themselves up to allegations of trying to cram Kavanaugh though without allowing the public to hear from a woman who says he tried to assault her while drunk. If they delay the hearing (and thereby the nomination) and wait on an FBI probe that, I assume, would need the White House’s blessing, there’s no telling what that probe will produce and even if it produces nothing, it will drag on forever.
Either way, Kavanaugh is now compromised. Fair or not, the cloud over his nomination will never – ever – lift, and when you throw in the parallel with Anita Hill and Clarence Thomas, then add in the Roe debate, you end up with just about the worst optics possible.
At the risk of overstating the case, if Republicans put Kavanaugh on the bench now, they are going to be blamed by Democrats (and possibly by women in general) for blighting the Supreme Court.
It’s a disaster. Plain and simple.
Apparently, though, Republicans are going to throw caution to the wind. Senate Judiciary Chairman Chuck Grassley says he will not delay the hearing scheduled for Monday despite the demands of Ford’s lawyers. Here’s what ol’ Chuck said late Tuesday:
Dr. Ford’s testimony would reflect her personal knowledge and memory of events. Nothing the FBI or any other investigator does would have any bearing on what Dr. Ford tells the committee, so there is no reason for any further delay. [These are] serious allegations and Dr. Ford deserves to be heard. The invitation for Monday still stands.
Other Republicans appear to be on the same page, with Lindsey Graham indicating he’s all set to vote irrespective of whether Ford shows up on Capitol Hill. For his part, Bob Corker tweeted this:
After learning of the allegation, Chairman @ChuckGrassley took immediate action to ensure both Dr. Ford and Judge Kavanaugh have the opportunity to be heard, in public or private. Republicans extended a hand in good faith. If we donâ€™t hear from both sides on Monday, letâ€™s vote.
— Senator Bob Corker (@SenBobCorker) September 19, 2018
Duly noted, Bob, but at this juncture, the GOP is damned if they do and damned if they don’t.
Frankly, that’s probably just as Feinstein intended.
Of course she’s not going to say that. Rather, she’s contending that because Ford initially insisted on anonymity and confidentiality, it put her (Feinstein) in a bind. Some Democrats are buying that and some clearly wish Feinstein hadn’t gone this route (there’s more on that here).
During every step of this process, Iâ€™ve found every single piece of information from Dr. Christine Blasey Ford eminently credible, sincere and believable. She knew this would have a huge effect on her life and she was incredibly brave to come forward.
— Senator Dianne Feinstein (@SenFeinstein) September 18, 2018
But “it is what it is” (so to speak), and “what it is” is this: Kavanaugh’s nomination is tarnished. Permanently.
Now, Republicans are going to have to decide whether they’re willing to risk the midterms and, more importantly, the reputation of the Supreme Court, by ramming Kavanaugh through.
Good luck with that.