It’s been interesting to watch Donald Trump attempt to navigate the suddenly choppy waters around Brett Kavanaugh’s Supreme Court nomination.
Over the past week, the President has adopted an uncharacteristically cautious tone, suggesting he’s cognizant of the fact that if there was ever a time when he needs to demonstrate a begrudging respect for decorum by eschewing his penchant for making bad optics worse, this is surely it.
The President has himself been the subject of numerous sexual harassment allegations and when you throw in the parallel with Anita Hill and Clarence Thomas and then consider that this is all playing out amid the Roe debate and against the #MeToo backdrop, you’ve got a recipe for disaster. Any misstep on Trump’s part could be the death knell for Kavanaugh’s nomination and the President clearly knows it.
The Senate Judiciary Committee is under enormous pressure to get things “right” when it comes to next week’s planned hearing where Kavanaugh’s accuser Christine Blasey Ford is expected to detail her account of the alleged assault that took place when the two were in high school. Ford’s lawyers have been at odds with Chairman Chuck Grassley (and Republicans in general) over the terms of the proposed hearing and she (Ford) initially demanded an FBI probe of the allegations before agreeing to testify.
Now, it looks like the date of the hearing will be pushed back to September 26. Ford will apparently testify first, with Kavanaugh’s going second. But who knows. This is a fluid situation.
Sticking points in talks between Blasey Ford and Senate GOP. She wants committee to subpoena witnesses and for Kavanaugh to testify first. GOP says no. GOP wants outside counsel to do questioning. She says no. https://t.co/WiA3kXb2d8
— Sheryl Gay Stolberg (@SherylNYT) September 21, 2018
What we do know is that Trump is getting increasingly irritated with the situation and knowing the President, it’s just a matter of time before he abandons his “let’s let it play out” line for his trademark bombast and bullying. On Friday, he took the first steps down that road by questioning Ford’s account on Twitter and effectively demanding that she produce evidence of charges she didn’t file.
“I have no doubt that, if the attack on Dr. Ford was as bad as she says, charges would have been immediately filed with local Law Enforcement Authorities by either her or her loving parents”, Trump tweeted, in what was probably supposed to be some kind of effort to feign respect for the victim, but which came across as either derisive or else just creepy.
“I ask that she bring those filings forward so that we can learn date, time, and place!”, he went on to shriek, into the digital void.
Democrats were not amused.
“The most powerful man in the world just used his position and platform to attack a sexual assault survivor”, Senator Kirsten Gillibrand tweeted, before reminding America that Trump “is the same man who has been credibly accused of more than a dozen cases of sexual assault or harassment — who has bragged about committing sexual assault on tape!”
Sick burn, Gillibrand! One might say Kirsten “grabbed Trump by the pussy.”
Chuck Schumer was more measured, but he too expressed his misgivings about the relative desirability of an accused sexual predator (who also happens to occupy the Oval Office) tweeting demands at a woman who says she was the victim of an attempted rape”.
“[This is a] highly offensive misunderstanding of surviving trauma”, Schumer said.
Ford, meanwhile, is meeting with the FBI in San Francisco to detail death threats she says she’s received.
The biggest question mark going into next week may not even be whether and when Ford testifies and under what conditions. But rather, whether Donald Trump can control himself over the weekend.
If the President loses it and tweets something egregious about Ford, he may not only sink his own SCOTUS nominee, but also put the GOP at a disadvantage with women voters ahead of the midterms.