I have been a trial attorney for over 25 years. It is my job to evaluate witnesses and to test their credibility, and to evaluate how testimony is received by a jury.
Christine Blasey Ford testified to the Senate Judiciary Committee on Thursday. I found her testimony genuine, credible and compelling. Moreover, her testimony would be received by a jury as genuine and believable.
In fact, it is reported that thousands of Americans watching Dr. Blasey’s testimony who are themselves victims of sexual assault experienced a cathartic response to her testimony and contacted their elected representatives. She moved the jury. She moved the country.
Dr. Blasey’s testimony was devastating. Dr. Blasey offered to be helpful to the committee more, and volunteered to submit to an FBI background check to test the credibility of her testimony. Judiciary Committee chairman Chuck Grassley refused her request.
After a lunch break, it was Judge Brett Kavanaugh’s turn to testify. Brett Kavanaugh is a GOP political operative masquerading as a judge, and he let his mask slip in his opening statement. He delivered an angry jeremiad contemptuous of Democratic Senators whom he asserted were part of a vast left-wing conspiracy trying to destroy him, bent on revenge for the Clintons and their hatred of Donald Trump. It was clearly a political speech delivered for the television audience.
When questioned by senators, Kavanaugh was angry, aggressive and belligerent. He raised new questions about his demeanor and judicial temperament as a judge. Kavanaugh continued to be evasive in his answers, frequently returning to talking points about his innocence that was non-responsive to the question. When given numerous opportunities to request reopening an FBI background check to clear “his good name,” Kavanaugh demurred and would not do so. “I will do whatever the committee decides to do.” President Trump and GOP leadership have refused to reopen the FBI background check. His independence as a jurist is in serious doubt.
Republican senators, who had hired a sex crimes prosecutor from Maricopa County to do the questioning for them were clearly unhappy with her performance. (At the close of Dr. Blasey’s testimony, she suggested that a Senate hearing is not the best way to get at the truth and that being interviewed by a sex crimes professional would better discover the facts). The prosecutor started questioning Judge Kavanaugh, but Republican senators reasserted their right to ask questions after the prosecutor reminded Judge Kavanaugh that the state of Maryland does not have a statute of limitations for sex crimes and that his accusers could file criminal charges against him.
That was too much for Lindsey Graham, who has thoroughly debased himself as a senator and a JAG lawyer in his desire to become attorney general when Jeff Sessions is fired after the November election. Graham’s foaming-at-the-mouth raving rant was a job interview for the attorney general position.
Other Republican senators followed Graham’s lead and gave cover to Judge Kavanaugh’s contemptuous behavior towards Democratic senators. The hearing devolved into spectacle and farce.
Following the hearing, the American Bar Association which had endorsed Judge Kavanaugh, urged what Democrats and Dr. Blasey have requested. American Bar Association Urges F.B.I. Inquiry Into Kavanaugh:
The American Bar Association called Thursday evening for postponing a vote on Judge Brett M. Kavanaugh’s nomination to the Supreme Court until sexual assault allegations made by Christine Blasey Ford and others are investigated by the F.B.I.
The request was made in a letter from the A.B.A.’s president, Robert M. Carlson, to the Senate Judiciary Committee’s chairman, Charles E. Grassley, an Iowa Republican, and Senator Dianne Feinstein of California, the senior Democrat on the panel.
Authoritarian Republicans are unmoved. Despite what any reasonable person saw as a disastrous hearing, and any previous president would have already pulled the nomination, Republican leaders are “plowing ahead” this morning with a confirmation vote in the Senate Judiciary Committee, and fast-tracking a full Senate debate over the weekend with a final vote on Monday. Authoritarians will not be denied.
The key Republican senator in the Senate Judiciary Committee vote this morning is Arizona’s Senator Jeff Flake. He could stop this nomination, if only temporarily, by voting no in committee this morning conditioned on reopening the FBI background investigation. Flake said yesterday that “doubts remain.” Well, if he has doubts whether a sexual assault occurred, he cannot in good conscience vote to confirm. Flake has never demonstrated any backbone, however. He always folds. I suspect Flake will vote to confirm and move the vote to the full Senate, where he might still vote no on Judge Kavanaugh, but only if other Republican senators demonstrate the courage to do so.
Call Senator Flake’s office and demand that he vote no.
UPDATE: Greg Sargent of the Washington Post asks, How can Jeff Flake vote for Kavanaugh today after this?
Spineless Senator Flake caves:
As James Hohmann of the Washington Post writes, Senate GOP forging ahead with Kavanaugh vote today shows why Ford sought to stay silent.
UPDATE: The Senate Judiciary Committee rejected a motion by Democrats to subpoena Mark Judge for his testimony before the committee on a party-line vote. Democrats then walked out of the committee hearing leaving it to ranking member Sen. Diane Feinstein to respond on behalf of Democrats to this farce of a hearing.
Democrats called an impromptu press conference, then trickled back in to put their statements on the record.
UPDATE: Hold on, Jeff Flake may have found his balls that he keeps in a jar beside his bed. Flake Calls For Delay On Floor Vote For Kavanaugh FBI Probe:
Sen. Jeff Flake (R-AZ) announced ahead of the Judiciary Committee’s vote to advance Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh that he would be seeking a delay for up to one week on a floor vote on Kavanaugh’s confirmation to allow for an FBI probe into sexual assault allegations.
Shortly after Flake’s announcement, the committee voted 11-10 to advance Kavanaugh out of the committee. Flake said that he was voting Kavanaugh out of the committee but only with the “understanding” [condition] that floor action on the confirmation will be delayed up to a week.
What I said he should do.
There is no indication that Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY), who controls the floor, has agreed to this plan.
Joan McCarter of Daily Kos suggests that: “Flake has asked for a one-week FBI investigation, and moved for that. They haven’t taken that vote yet. What Flake has done is putting his likely “no” vote out there without an investigation, giving cover to Sens. Collins and Murkowski and Heitkamp and Manchin to vote “no.””
I can’t say for certain, but Flake’s latest gambit may have something to do with this. Mormon Women for Ethical Government calls for probe over Brett Kavanaugh allegations:
The group Mormon Women for Ethical Government released a statement Tuesday that called for four members of Congress to stall Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh’s confirmation proceedings “until a thorough independent investigation can be conducted.”
The group specifically called on Utah Sens. Orrin Hatch and Mike Lee, Arizona Sen. Jeff Flake and Sen. Mike Crapo of Idaho to stall the proceedings. All four senators are members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.
The statement comes as Kavanaugh faces multiple accusations of sexual misconduct.
In my experience, Jeff Flake is the only one of the four who might be responsive to this group.
Senate Republicans on Friday agreed to ask the FBI to investigate sexual assault allegations against Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh, a move that will temporarily delay his nomination.
The move came as multiple senators, including GOP Sens. Jeff Flake (Ariz.) and Lisa Murkowski (Alaska), called for the FBI to be given a chance to investigate, raising questions about if Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) would be able to move the nomination without a deal.
The Judiciary Committee said in a statement that it will ask the administration to instruct the FBI to conduct the investigation.
Aaaand Trump folds. Trump orders new FBI investigation into Kavanaugh after Senate request:
President Trump on Friday asked the FBI to investigate sexual assault allegations against Brett Kavanaugh after Senate Republicans agreed to a one-week investigation, temporarily delaying his nomination to the Supreme Court.
“I’ve ordered the FBI to conduct a supplemental investigation to update Judge Kavanaugh’s file. As the Senate has requested, this update must be limited in scope and completed in less than one week,” Trump said in the statement released by the White House.
The Senate Judiciary Committee on Friday afternoon requested that Trump instruct the FBI to conduct the supplemental investigation after Sen. Jeff Flake (R-Ariz.) and others called for the move.
Flake said the FBI should conduct an investigation that is “limited in scope and time,” and said it should focus solely on credible accusations against Kavanaugh and last no longer than a week.
Multiple senators, including Sens. Susan Collins (R-Maine), Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska), Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.) and Heidi Heitkamp (D-N.D.) soon followed.
Democrats had been calling for such an investigation for days and received GOP support following a rollercoaster day on Capitol Hill on Thursday, when Kavanaugh and Christine Blasey Ford testified before the Judiciary panel.