UPDATE: Sen. Jeff Flake, in advance of the committee vote, says he’d like to see a one-week delay in full Senate confirmation vote for an FBI investigation of new allegations against Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh. The committee then approved the nomination on party lines.
With Donald Trump cheerleading the angry denials of an accused sexual predator, Republicans in Congress seem prepared to speed Brett Kavanaugh’s confirmation to a speedy vote. There are many hitches:
THE FLAKE UPDATE: The nomination was approved by the Senate committee 11-10. Will enough Republicans join Flake in voting no vote next week without a further background check? It will be up, in part, to Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, who until now has insisted he planned to forge ahead. Flake says he and others will ask the White House to authorize use of the FBI. So that puts it in Donald Trump’s lap. If he says no, then the question is whether the 49 Democrats unite against the confirmation and at least one Republican joins Flake in refusing to confirm without an investigation. There are 51 Republicans, if 50 vote yes, Mike Pence would break the tie.
Update: Lisa Murkowski said she agrees with Flake on the delay for investigation “limited in scope.” Flake said all current allegations should be considered. Joe Manchin also says he supports the delay.
Update: Trump has said he’ll be “totally reliant” on wishes of Senate Republicans. I’m guessing that means a vote on scheduling the vote for Monday, as McConnell had earlier insisted. If it fails, that’s a signal that the majority wants an FBI look.
Update: Republican leaders say they’ll agree to the delay, though they intend to push ahead with a procedural vote Saturday to begin debate.
Update: An official release says the Committee will ask for an investigation to be concluded one week from today into all current “credible allegations.” It does say plural allegations.
Related: Trump heads to West Virginia for a MAGA rally this weekend.
Note that Flake was cornered in a Capitol elevator this morning by sexual assault victims unhappy about how those with similar complaints are dismissed.
“Look at me when I’m talking to you! You’re telling me that my assault doesn’t matter, that what happened to me doesn’t matter and that you’re going to let people who do these things into power! That’s what you’re telling me when you vote for him! Don’t look away from me! Look at me and tell me that it doesn’t matter what happened to me — that you’ll let people like that go into the highest court in the land!”
Then here’s what I’d written originally about hitches in the confirmation process and other matters.
* The utterly credible testimony of Christine Blasey Ford.
* The refusal of Kavanaugh or Republicans to have an independent investigation of the allegations of three sworn accusers.
* The absence of Kavanaugh’s partner in debauchery, Mark Judge.
* Kavanaugh’s dishonesty both large (in multiple issues from his time as an aide to Kenneth Starr and a White House staffer and political operative) and small (wrong on the drinking age in Maryland, his fanciful made up definitions for sexual terms in his yearbook, he and his pals’ mocking treatment of a female classmate).
* Kavanaugh’s career of fervent political partisanship, beamed worldwide in Thursday’s striking display of injudicious temperament — talking over and questioning women senators, shouting, alleging political conspiracies, blaming his problems on the hated Clintons. And remember he remains a circuit court judge no matter what happens.
* A call from the American Bar Association for a delay in the confirmation. The ABA was proudly cited as an unalloyed advocate by Kavanaugh. And, by the way, Kavanaugh’s waving the ABA endorsement around was another case of rank hypocrisy if not dishonesty. He was instrumental in the Bush White House jettisoning ABA pre-nomination review of court nominees.
* A call for withdrawal of the nomination from the magazine of the Jesuits, the Catholic religious order that educated him at Georgetown Prep.
There are many good reasons to support the nomination of a qualified judge who is committed to a textualist interpretation of the Constitution to the Supreme Court. Over time, such an approach may return the question of abortion to the states, where it belongs given the Constitution’s silence on the matter, and where a more just and moral outcome than is currently possible under Roe v. Wade may be achieved. Restoring such a morally complex question to the deliberation of legislators rather than judges may also bring the country closer to a time when confirmation hearings can truly focus on the character and qualifications of the nominee rather than serving as proxy battles over every contentious issue in U.S. politics.
We continue to support the nomination of judges according to such principles—but Judge Kavanaugh is not the only such nominee available. For the good of the country and the future credibility of the Supreme Court in a world that is finally learning to take reports of harassment, assault and abuse seriously, it is time to find a nominee whose confirmation will not repudiate that lesson.
* And, yes, first on the list: Confirmation would be another repudiation of a woman in favor of a white man of privileged background, with a nearly palpable sense of entitlement.
The New York Times editorialsts have a good summary of why Kavanaugh is not believable.
The New Yorker, too, gets to a critical point with political consequences (more among women than men, sad to say).
The Hill-Thomas hearings persist in the American consciousness as a watershed moment for partisanship, for male entitlement, for testimony on sexual misconduct, for intra-racial tension and interracial affiliation. The Ford-Kavanaugh hearings will be remembered for their entrenchment of the worst impulses from that earlier ordeal. What took place on Thursday confirms that male indignation will be coddled, and the gospel of male success elevated. It confirms that there is no fair arena for women’s speech. Mechanisms of accountability will be made irrelevant. Some people walked away from 1991 enraged. The next year was said to be the Year of the Woman. Our next year, like this one, will be the Year of the Man.
Sen. Tom Cotton fears no political backlash in Arkansas. He wants a vote NOW! The women are liars and dupes. The man is to be believed. Others, at least, are running from microphones and cameras for the time being, including Gov. Asa Hutchinson.
A vote is expected this morning. The man of the hour is Republican committee member Sen. Jeff Flake, who occasionally makes moderate sounds. I’d guess he’ll do as always, fall in line with his party. UPDATE: I was right. He will vote to confirm. (He says he has doubts, but goes with “presumption of innocence” for Kavanaugh, which would seem to mean presumption of lying for the accuser.) Sen. Susan Collins almost certainly will do the same on the floor. Sen. Lisa Murkowski? Maybe not. She has valid political objections to Kavanaugh, on both treatment of women and native Americans in his years as judge
Sen. Lindsey Graham’s scripted bugle call for the Party of Trump may carry the day for Brett Kavanaugh and thus, the U.S. Supreme Court. If so, you may be sure that Kavanaugh will set about settling scores for himself, Trump and their tribe. Others? Well, look up the definition of boofed. It’s worse than a little flatulence (Kavanaugh’s unbelievable explanation), though there was a lot of that going around yesterday, too.
PS: There’s also this.
Because @realDonaldTrump and the Senate Republicans refuse to allow my client Julie Swetnick to testify, we will be taking her story directly to the American people this weekend. This is about a search for the truth. Details to follow.
— Michael Avenatti (@MichaelAvenatti) September 28, 2018
PPS: And from a judge whose thoughts have some context here, from Wendell Griffen’s blog:
Ponder the white male rage, privilege, hypocrisy, and cultural incompetence displayed yesterday.