A Senate star chamber full of grandstanding senators on both sides will not elucidate what happened four decades ago, when all people involved were minors, and the accuser is unclear on the details.
By Mollie Hemingway
After the Senate Judiciary Committee hearings for Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh concluded last week, Sen. Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif., revealed that for six weeks she’d hidden a claim he’d sexually assaulted someone. Christine Blasey Ford then told the Washington Post that Kavanaugh had sexually assaulted her when they were teenagers.
Although she said she doesn’t remember where or when the alleged event occurred, she said she believes it may have been in the summer of 1982 and that Kavanaugh’s friend Mark Judge was present for the assault. Notes from a couples therapy session in 2012 show that she spoke of an assault involving four boys, not two, from an elitist DC boys’ school. Kavanaugh isn’t mentioned in the notes, but Ford’s husband says she told him the name at that time and said she was worried he might be a Supreme Court nominee in the future.
Kavanaugh categorically denies the allegations. Judge says he doesn’t recall any such event and that Kavanaugh didn’t behave that way. Another alleged party attendee named by Ford says he doesn’t recall such a party and that Kavanaugh didn’t behave that way.
The Senate Judiciary Committee has delayed the vote on whether to confirm Kavanaugh, reopened the hearings, and invited both Kavanaugh and Ford to speak to the matter. Kavanaugh has agreed but Ford says she won’t testify until and unless the FBI investigates her claim. Democrats, who previously asked for the hearing, now suggest that the vote to confirm Kavanaugh should be delayed for as long as it takes for an investigation to take place.
Senate Republicans are less enchanted by the demand that they indefinitely delay Kavanaugh’s confirmation vote so unverifiable claims might be investigated. Sen. Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa, said, “Immediately after learning of Dr. Ford’s identity from news reports Sunday, committee staff started working to gather facts related to her claims. We’ve offered Dr. Ford the opportunity to share her story with the committee, as her attorney said yesterday she was willing to do. We offered her a public or a private hearing as well as staff-led interviews, whichever makes her most comfortable. The invitation for Monday still stands.” The committee explained that the FBI “considers the matter closed” and doesn’t make credibility determinations.
Much of the media coverage has focused on how this is good for or Democrats and bad for Republicans. While that’s interesting, if debateable, it’s far more important to discuss whether this is good for the republic itself.