The FBI, which can do anything, has tried to solve the mystery of a purported Abraham Lincoln hat. It looks like one of his and it’s his size, 7⅛ , and the band is stretched, matching how Lincoln would often keep some papers. But when the FBI did a DNA analysis, it could not substantiate the claim of an Illinois museum that the hat was one of Honest Abe’s. This doesn’t solve the mystery, but it raises another: Why can’t the FBI determine if Brett M. Kavanaugh’s accusers are accurately recalling what happened long ago?
Kavanaugh’s first accuser, Christine Blasey Ford, asked for the FBI to substantiate her charges, which the Supreme Court nominee has categorically denied. She says that at a house party in the Maryland suburbs, possibly in the summer of 1982, she was pushed into a room and jumped by Kavanaugh. She further alleges that he and a friend locked the door and turned up the music, and that Kavanaugh covered her mouth with his hand, ground himself into her and tried to take off her clothes. The other boy present, Ford says, was Kavanaugh’s friend Mark Judge. Judge says he remembers nothing about the party or the alleged attack.
The party took place a long time ago, and Judge has written a book about how he spent his youth as a blackout drunk. He would not make a stellar witness. But what he would say publicly may not be the same as what he would say if questioned by the FBI under oath. A badge has a way of jogging memory.
Ford is frustratingly hazy on the details of the alleged attack. She cannot remember the specific location of the house in which the party was held. She has, however, provided the Senate with the names of at least two other people who she says were present, and they have given statements to the Senate Judiciary Committee. The FBI might want to start with them.
As with Lincoln’s hat, an FBI investigation may not prove dispositive. Maybe no other witness can be found, and maybe the others who Ford says were at the party won’t be able to provide useful information. But as things stand now, Senate Republicans who refuse to summon the FBI are laying the groundwork for 1,000 conspiracy theories: Why is an investigation not required? Is something being hidden? In a country where some people believed Hillary Clinton was guilty of child trafficking by using a Washington pizza parlor, anything is possible.
As for Kavanaugh, he might actually benefit from an FBI investigation. Without one, he will always have a cloud over his head. If confirmed by the Senate, it will be on a party-line vote. He will forever be the justice who trails personal scandal — a bit like Clarence Thomas, only he was never accused of using physical force. Even so, Thomas will forever more be the Supreme Court justice with an invisible asterisk, known more for the way he was confirmed than for any of his jurisprudence.
Especially now that a second accuser has come forth, it will be even worse for Kavanaugh. Deborah Ramirez, who attended Yale University with Kavanaugh, told the New Yorker that at a drunken dorm party during the 1983-1984 academic year, Kavanaugh exposed himself, thrust his penis in her face and caused her to touch it. “I would think an FBI investigation would be warranted,” she told the New Yorker.
I would think so, too. And I would think that Kavanaugh, who has denied Ramirez’s allegation, would welcome one. His reputation has been impugned, possibly unfairly. The accusations are mortifying and completely at odds with the sort of man he says he is and his defenders affirm. While Ford and Ramirez deserve FBI validation, Kavanaugh might deserve FBI exoneration. Both sides have much at stake — the women as well as the man. All sorts of stereotypes — hysterical women, drunken prep — are in play. In time, they will not dissipate; they will ossify.
If the FBI can be called upon to look into the authenticity of a $6.5 million Lincoln stovepipe, it can certainly undertake an investigation into the charges against Kavanaugh. The bureau may, in the end, be unable to reach a conclusion — it’s been a long while, after all — but it will have tried. As it looks now, the Republican majority on the Senate Judiciary Committee appear to be jamming a nomination through the Senate. Call in the FBI.
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