WASHINGTON-The general consensus is that Brett Kavanaugh did neither himself nor his nomination much credit with his interview on Fox News Monday night. My own opinions include:
a) that Martha McCallum did a pretty good job, given what I'd expected from her, which was very little. I'd have liked a couple of follow-ups, but she certainly gave Kavanaugh enough rope;
b) that my original assessment of Kavanaugh from his formal hearings a couple of weeks ago remains: the man is the worst witness for himself that I've ever seen;
c) that I wouldn't trust Brett Kavanaugh as far as I could throw the entire Georgetown Prep graduating class of 1983.
The guy can't help himself. It wasn't just that he didn't do these awful things, it's that he was a teetotaling virgin from the day he was born until some vague time after he went off to Yale and did not under any circumstances do anything to Deborah Ramirez. His college roommate already has called moonshine on much of this, and Kavanaugh's own high-school yearbook backs up the roommate's testimony fairly well.
Not only that but, at his weekly press gaggle outside the Senate chamber, Senator Chuck Schumer all but called Kavanaugh an inveterate liar.
In the past, Judge Kavanaugh, in his hearings, has not told the whole truth and nothing but-whether it was about Manny Miranda [the brains behind purloining the e-mails of Democratic senators back while Kavanaugh was working in the Bush White House], whether it's about Judges Pryor and Pickering, or about the torture investigation. The documents are at odds with what Judge Kavanaugh said.
"He has a right to say anything he likes in a public forum," said Senator Richard Blumenthal, Democrat of Connecticut, of Kavanaugh's interview on Monday night. "But I think he raised more questions than he answered. I think the net effect was to degrade the dignity of the process and his position. For him to be talking about his sexual history was totally unnecessary and well beyond claims that have been made as to his excessive drinking or potential sexual assault and prove nothing."
(It should be noted that, curiously, the Democratic senators are concentrating most of their rhetoric on the case of Dr. Christine Blasey Ford, who is still scheduled to appear on Thursday, and not on that of Deborah Ramirez, the second woman to come forward, and certainly not on whatever or whoever Michael Avenatti is talking about. "We don't know much about the second case," said Senator Richard Durbin.)
The big news was that the Republicans on the Judiciary Committee announced that they had hired a woman to question Ford if the latter comes to the hearing on Thursday. However, the Republicans kept the identify of the new committee counsel secret, according to Judiciary Chairman Chuck Grassley, "for her own safety." My money is still on Jeanine Pirro until I hear differently.
Anyway, the abject cowardice behind the decision to hire a woman lawyer to question Ford, rather than leaving the questioning to the all-male roster of Republicans on the Judiciary Committee, is so obvious as almost to beggar comment. None of the Republican members of the committee want to see commercials featuring footage of them beating up on a woman describing a sexual assault popping up on television the next time they run for anything. The tactic, in short, is fooling nobody, least of all Blumenthal, a former US attorney.
"I've decided what I'm going to do. I'm going to be asking questions," he said. "We're elected to advise and consent. I'm on the Judiciary Committee and my job is to ask questions. I am in no way going to concede or cede my role as a United States Senator.
"Why are they hiding? Why is the administration hiding the truth, and why are my colleagues hiding from their roles as members of the Judiciary Committee? There's no particular expertise that a questioner is going to have in this situation."
Back when Kavanaugh first met with the committee, Angus King, the independent senator from Maine, dropped by what were becoming very acrimonious hearings, largely because so much of Kavanaugh's record, particularly documents relating to his days as a political lawyer in the Bush White House, were being concealed one way or another from the rest of the world. "We are rushing this," King said. "And we don't know anything about this guy."
That situation hasn't changed.
"That's what I've been saying all along," King said Tuesday. "What's the rush here? This doesn't seem like a serious investigation now. This seems like checking a box. We're not talking about a new investigation, we're talking about re-opening an FBI investigation into these new charges. The Scalia seat was open for 14 months. This has been open for eight weeks."
One more day of this. They're going to try and push through the weekend to get Kavanaugh confirmed by the beginning of next week. I'm not entirely sure they have the votes. "Is the process broken?" Blumenthal asked. "I'll tell you this: the Brett Kavanaugh process is broken."
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