According to Ronan Farrow and Jane Mayer’s Sunday bombshell detailing Deborah Ramirez’s allegation of sexual misconduct by Supreme Court nominee Brett M. Kavanaugh when both were at Yale, when Republicans learned of the new allegation, “Senate Republicans issued renewed calls to accelerate the timing of a committee vote.” Republican senators so far have denied this, but in retrospect, the demand for a Monday hearing, dropped finally over the weekend, surely seems like an effort to beat the New Yorker story. If so, they failed — and worse, their insistence that the FBI not be enlisted to investigate claims now looks like an attempted coverup.
With Michael Avenatti, the lawyer for adult-film star Stormy Daniels, claiming to have “significant evidence” of other sexual misconduct by Kavanaugh in the early 1980s, the reasonable question remains: How many other accusers are out there?
Sen. Dianne Feinstein (Calif.), the ranking Democrat on the Senate Judiciary Committee, called for delaying the scheduled Thursday hearing at which Kavanaugh and his first accuser, research psychologist Christine Blasey Ford, are supposed to testify. However, it might be Republicans who need to collect themselves. If, as The Post reported, Kavanaugh was having trouble answering questions in White House prep sessions when there was only one accuser, he might need more than a few days to handle questions that might come his way concerning Ramirez’s allegations. Moreover, who’s to say more allegations won’t have surfaced by the time Thursday rolls around?
By the way, does Kavanaugh remember any sexually explicit emails from former judge Alex Kozinski, whose career ended when a slew of claims regarding sexual harassment came to light? (If Kavanaugh still possesses calendars from high school, as has been reported, perhaps he has emails from the 1990s).
Meanwhile, all eyes now will be on Sens. Jeff Flake (R-Ariz.), Susan Collins (R-Maine), Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska) and Bob Corker (R-Tenn.) — sadly, just about the only Republicans who might put an end to this fiasco by demanding an FBI investigation or simply insisting that the nomination needs to be pulled. A cynic might imagine that at this point Democrats are just as happy to move ahead on Thursday, anxious to attack Kavanaugh and their Republican colleagues for refusing to have the FBI investigate all these claims. An even more cynical observer might say that with early voting underway in some states, Democrats would be delighted to have Republicans still insisting there is nothing to investigate, nothing at all. (Early voting has begun in Minnesota, South Dakota, Vermont, New Jersey and Wyoming; Illinois begins Thursday.)
Republicans have several options:
- Move ahead with Thursday’s hearing. Listen to Ford. Proceed to vote.
- Move ahead with Thursday’s hearing. Listen to Ford. Call for Ramirez to testify.
- Freeze further action. Decide the FBI really is needed. Delay the vote until after the midterms.
- Freeze further action. Wait for (or even ask) moderate Republicans to end the debacle.
- Freeze further action. Press Kavanaugh to withdraw.
Keep in mind that the D.C. Circuit on which Kavanaugh now sits (for which, ironically, the chief judge is Merrick Garland, the Obama Supreme Court nominee who never got a Senate vote) might feel obligated to investigate these allegations again in the event that Kavanaugh is shown to have falsely denied the allegations.
There are probably some combinations of or variations on the options above, but Republicans should stop kidding themselves. The chances that Kavanaugh can be confirmed without any examination of subsequent accusers and without calling Mark Judge (whose ex-girlfriend told the New Yorker that he once confessed to, while a teenager, taking turns with other boys having sex with a drunk woman) are approaching zero. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) might want to consider pleading with Kavanaugh to withdraw — unless he fancies being the minority leader come January 2019, thus ending the parade of conservative judicial nominees.