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Kavanaugh's nomination in jeopardy after woman accuser breaks silence


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PERGRAM: Kavanaugh's nomination in jeopardy after woman accuser breaks silence

We may be in a grey area when it comes to what’s next for the nomination of Brett Kavanaugh for the Supreme Court.

After the allegations against Kavanaugh made by Christine Ford, the White House says it won’t yank the nomination and may even gird for battle. A spokesman for Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa, says aides are working to set up additional calls with Kavanaugh and Ford “ahead of Thursday’s scheduled vote.”

In other words, GOP leaders aren’t backing down from a committee vote on Kavanaugh Thursday and an effort to confirm him on the Senate floor by the middle of next week.

Here’s the problem:

Multiple Republicans that they want to slow the process until they thoroughly addressed Ford’s charge and not just blindly charged ahead with the confirmation.

“I’m uncomfortable moving forward with a yes vote until we hear from (Ford),” said Sen. Jeff Flake, R-Ariz., a member of the Judiciary Committee. Fellow Judiciary Committee member Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., also urged caution. But Graham wasn’t in favor of a pause.

“If the committee is to hear from Ms. Ford, it should be done immediately so the process can continue as scheduled,” said Graham. “If Ms. Ford wishes to provide information to the committee, I would gladly listen to what she has to say and compare that against all other information we have received about Judge Kavanaugh.”

Multiple Democrats demanded the committee to bring the confirmation process to a screeching halt.

“Sen. Grassley must postpone the vote until, at the very minimum, these serious and credible allegations are thoroughly investigated,” said Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y. “To railroad a vote now would be an insult of the women of America.”

What happens now is unclear. It’s unknown if Ford is willing to appear in person or just how thorough senators need to be with her allegation. But it wouldn’t take much to throw things off kilter for those hoping for a quick confirmation. Plus, there’s risk for the GOP if it fails to take Ford’s allegations seriously or account for what she has to say. We’re in the Me Too era now. Republicans ignore Ford at their own peril less than two months before the midterm elections. GOPers know they could face a backlash at the polls if they misplay their hand.

The Judiciary Committee is split nearly-evenly between Republicans and Democrats: 11 GOPers. 10 Democrats. Flake already wants to tap the brakes. But frankly, a committee vote doesn’t mean much. Let’s say Grassley marches ahead regardless. Would Flake and other Republicans vote in opposition in committee to Kavanaugh’s nomination? Possibly. But that means very little for the actual confirmation.

Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh has publicly denied allegations that he forced himself onto a woman in high school. This comes after Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) allegedly gave a letter containing the claim to the FBI.

Consider this:

It’s not written anywhere in the Constitution or the Senate rules that Supreme Court nominees require a successful committee vote before heading to the floor. On October 6, 1987, the Senate Judiciary Committee voted 9-5 against a favorable recommendation for Supreme Court nominee Robert Bork. The committee then voted 9-5 to send Bork’s nomination to the floor with an unfavorable recommendation.

The full Senate later followed the committee lead, rebuffing Bork, 58-42. Bork became only the 11th High Court nominee rejected by the Senate in the history of the republic.

In 1991, the Senate Judiciary Committee deadlocked 7-7 to send the nomination of Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas to the floor with a favorable recommendation. The committee then voted 13-1 give Thomas no recommendation.

The Senate later voted to confirm Thomas, 52-48.

One can see how Kavanaugh could struggle to receive a favorable or even no recommendation from the Judiciary Committee with just a one vote GOP advantage.


Allegations made against Kavanaugh are unfolding in an eerily similar fashion to the way Anita Hill leveled charges against Thomas: between the end of the hearings and a floor vote. The Kavanaugh accusations even hit at nearly the identical points on the calendar.


So why do committees even bother with a recommendation? Not all senators sit on each committee. Senators take into account the disposition of committees who adjudicate nominees for a panoply of positions, ranging from the Supreme Court to ambassadors to Assistant Undersecretaries for Insular Affairs. Committee positions on nominees holds a lot of sway with senators.

But properly hearing from Ford may consume time. That’s why, nestled in the back of everyone’s mind, is what unfolded in 1991 with Thomas and Anita Hill.

In late September, 1991, the Judiciary Committee concluded its hearings with Thomas and sent his nomination onto the floor, without recommendation. That’s when allegations surfaced from Hill. She accused Thomas of sexual harassment when they worked at the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC).

After much consternation, the Judiciary Committee re-opened the hearings and invited Hill to testify in a dramatic, public session. The panel heard again from Thomas and other witnesses. Thomas famously characterized the hearings “a high-tech lynching.”

History may not repeat itself. But as the author John le Carre wrote, “Tomorrow was created yesterday…and the day before yesterday, too.”

Those pushing for a quick, painless confirmation of Kavanaugh know that what happened with Thomas’s confirmation could be a problem. In fact, those hearings constitute what was really the first chapter in the Me Too movement. Republicans are wary of being portrayed as indifferent to Ford’s assertion.

The allegations made against Kavanaugh are unfolding in an eerily similar fashion to the way Hill leveled charges against Thomas: between the end of the hearings and a floor vote. The Kavanaugh accusations even hit at nearly the identical points on the calendar.

The committee vote could be the least the GOP and Kavanaugh’s worries.

Republicans hold a narrow 51-49 advantage in the Senate. Most Republicans are on the record as supporting Kavanaugh. But the nominee doesn’t have the votes on the floor to score confirmation yet. Sen. Susan Collins, R-Maine, has not announced her position on Kavanaugh, but fellow moderate Sen. Lisa Murkowski told CNN that she is open to the delay.

“If there are more questions that need to be asked and answered, then I think it would be appropriate for that time,” she said.

Collins just spent an hour on the phone with Kavanaugh Friday. It was a follow-up to questions the Maine Republican had after sifting through the nominee’s documents.

The call was scheduled prior to information arising about Ford. Collins discussed the accusations with Kavanaugh on Friday.

The office of Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., said Sunday there were no changes to the schedule regarding Kavanaugh. So, if things go as planned – even if Kavanaugh scores an unfavorable rating by the committee or no recommendation at all, the Senate GOP brass hopes to hold a procedural vote to break a filibuster on the nomination around Monday, September 24.

The confirmation vote on the floor would presumably hit around Wednesday, September 26.

It’s not clear yet of Christine Ford’s charges could stall or derail Kavanaugh’s nomination. But the Senate now floats in a grey area. It’s a little bit like what happened when Anita Hill came forth in 1991. And with the midterms around the corner, Republicans worry privately about missteps with Kavanaugh and Ford could reverberate at the ballot box.

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The woman accusing Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh of sexual assault came forward with her explosive allegations on Sunday, saying the supposed attack "derailed me substantially for four or five years" and claiming that the episode rendered her "unable to have healthy relationships with men."

The woman, Christine Blasey Ford, is a professor at Palo Alto University, according to The Washington Post, which published her account on Sunday. Her decision to go public has capped a whirlwhind week that began when Sen. Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif., sent shockwaves through Washington by announcing she had sent the FBI information about Kavanaugh she received from an anonymous accuser in July. It's also threatened to upend Kavanaugh's confirmation, as top Democrats call for a full investigation.


I agree with Senator Flake that we should delay this week's vote on Brett Kavanaugh's nomination. There's a lot of information we don't know and the FBI should have the time it needs to review this new material. Staff calls aren't the appropriate way to handle this.


Many Republicans immediately pushed back Sunday, saying it was "disturbing" that the decades-old allegations surfaced just days before the Judiciary Committee is set to vote on whether to advance Kavanaugh's confirmation to the Senate floor. Republicans have given no indication that they intend to delay Thursday's key vote, as a series of Democratic senators demanded throughout the day; however, Senate Judiciary Committee spokesman Taylor Foy said Chairman Chuck Grassley was working to set up follow-up calls with Kavanaugh and Ford in light of the Post report.

"It’s disturbing that these uncorroborated allegations from more than 35 years ago, during high school, would surface on the eve of a committee vote after Democrats sat on them since July," Grassley, R-Iowa, said in a statement.

"I thought he might inadvertently kill me."

- Christine Ford

"If Ranking Member Feinstein and other Committee Democrats took this claim seriously, they should have brought it to the full Committee’s attention much earlier," he continued. "Instead, they said nothing during two joint phone calls with the nominee in August, four days of lengthy public hearings, a closed session for all committee members with the nominee where sensitive topics can be discussed and in more than 1,300 written questions."

Grassley called on Feinstein to publicly release the letter she received in July, "so that everyone can know what she’s known for weeks." He added that the sudden reveal of the allegations "raises a lot of questions about Democrats’ tactics and motives" and noted that no similar allegations had surfaced in Kavanaugh's past despite six separate federal background checks throughout his career.

South Carolina Sen. Lindsey Graham, a Republican on the committee, said late Sunday he'd "gladly listen" to Ford so that he could compare her accusations "against all the other information" the panel has on Kavanaugh. But, he said, if Ford does testify, "it should be done immediately" so as not to delay the confirmation vote.

Another GOP member of the committee, Jeff Flake of Arizona, told Fox News that he was "uncomfortable moving forward with a 'yes' vote until we hear from" Ford.

Feinstein tweeted late Sunday that she agreed with Flake that the committee vote should be delayed. "There's a lot of information we don't know and the FBI should have the time it needs to review this new material," she wrote. "Staff calls aren't the appropriate way to handle this."

Media probe allegation from high school days.

Republicans hold a 51-49 advantage in the Senate and can afford only one defection to keep the nomination alive.

Ford, a 51-year-old registered Democrat who has published in academic journals and has trained students in clinical psychology, described the alleged incident in The Washington Post on Sunday, saying it occurred during a summer day in the 1980s at a Maryland house where teens had gathered. Ford claimed she headed upstairs to a bathroom when she was suddenly pushed onto a bed, as rock-and-roll music blared.

However, Ford told The Post she did not recall exactly who owned the house, how she came to be at the house, or how the gathering was arranged. She remembered only that the house was in Montgomery County, near a country club, and that parents were not present.


Ford said Kavanaugh and a friend, Mark Judge, were "stumbling drunk" and laughing "maniacally" when Kavanaugh pinned her to a bed and tried to forcibly remove her one-piece bathing suit, as well as the clothes she was wearing. According to Ford, Kavanaugh put his hand over her mouth when she attempted to scream.

"I thought he might inadvertently kill me," said Ford, who works as a research psychologist in California. "He was trying to attack me and remove my clothing."

Ford claimed she was able to escape to a bathroom and then outside of the house when Judge jumped into the fray and sent everyone in the room "tumbling."

Judge strongly denied the allegations on Friday, when they were anonymous, saying the claims were "just absolutely nuts" and insisting that "I never saw Brett act that way."

After Ford went public on Sunday, Judge repeated his denial.

Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh faces allegations of sexual misconduct; women who worked with or know Kavanaugh respond on 'The Ingraham Angle.'

"Now that the anonymous person has been identified and has spoken to the press, I repeat my earlier statement that I have no recollection of any of the events described in today’s Post article or attributed to her letter," Judge said. A classmate of Kavanaugh's at Georgetown Preparatory School, Judge has gone on to write for a variety of conservative publications, including The Daily Caller.

Debra Katz, a D.C. attorney specializing in sexual harassment cases, provided The Post with results of an August 2018 polygraph test showing Ford was truthful when she said a summary of the allegations was accurate, the newspaper reported.

Also on Friday, Kavanaugh released a statement through the White House as the allegations surfaced: "I categorically and unequivocally deny this allegation. I did not do this back in high school or at any time."

The White House stood by that denial on Sunday in the wake of The Post's report.

"As the story notes, we are standing with Judge Kavanaugh’s denial," White House Principal Deputy Press Secretary Raj Shah told Fox News.

The Post reported that she had contacted the newspaper in July, along with Feinstein. According to Ford, she kept the episode mostly to herself until 2012, when she mentioned it in a couple's therapy session.

The therapist's contemporaneous notes, provided to The Post, reportedly confirmed that Ford maintained she had been attacked by four individuals "from an elitist boys’ school" who are now "highly respected and high-ranking members of society in Washington." The therapist, Ford said, had confused the number of people involved in the alleged attack with the total number of people in the house.

The Supreme Court has rejected Schumer's request for the hearing to be delayed, but how much sense does his request actually make? Lisa Boothe and Charlie Kirk join The Next Revolution to discuss.

Although Ford said she initially wanted to remain anonymous, she later changed her mind after Kavanaugh's defenders argued that the allegations were unfair.

"Now I feel like my civic responsibility is outweighing my anguish and terror about retaliation," Ford told The Post. She added that the incident "derailed me substantially for four or five years" and that "I was very ill-equipped to forge those kinds of relationships" going forward.

Republicans had accused Feinstein of orchestrating a last-minute smear after she announced she had forwarded the then-anonymous account of sexual assault to the FBI. 

After Ford's interview was published Sunday, Feinstein said Kavanaugh's confirmation should be delayed pending a federal investigation -- a move that would potentially push a confirmation vote until after the midterm elections.

"From the outset, I have believed these allegations were extremely serious and bear heavily on Judge Kavanaugh’s character," Feinstein wrote. "I support Mrs. Ford’s decision to share her story, and now that she has, it is in the hands of the FBI to conduct an investigation. This should happen before the Senate moves forward on this nominee."

That sentiment was echoed Sunday by Sen. Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., who has previously suggested Kavanaugh's hearings should be delayed for other reasons.

“Senator Grassley must postpone the vote until, at a very minimum, these serious and credible allegations are thoroughly investigated," Schumer said. "For too long, when women have made serious allegations of abuse, they have been ignored. That cannot happen in this case."

Last week, the FBI, which conducts background checks on judicial nominees, said that it already had reviewed the allegations.

"Upon receipt of the information on the night of September 12, we included it as part of Judge Kavanaugh’s background file, as per the standard process," the FBI said in a statement. Fox News has learned that the White House would have to request that the bureau follow up on the letter for the matter to be investigated further.

On Sunday, before Ford's name came to light, Louisiana Republican Sen. John Kennedy said he was embarrassed for Congress by the unsubstantiated accusations of decades-old sexual misconduct leveled at the Supreme Court nominee.

"So far, it’s pretty much been an intergalactic freak show," Kennedy, a member of the judiciary committee, told Chris Wallace on "Fox News Sunday." "Most Americans are looking at this – most mainstream Americans – and they’re thinking that Congress has hit rock bottom and started to dig." 

Kennedy said Kavanaugh's vote before the Senate Judiciary Committee would continue as planned on Thursday.

And on Friday, more than five dozen women came forward to defend Kavanaugh, calling him "a good person" in a letter to the committee.

"We are women who have known Brett Kavanaugh for more than 35 years and knew him while he attended high school between 1979 and 1983. For the entire time we have known Brett Kavanaugh, he has behaved honorably and treated women with respect," the letter read. "We strongly believe it is important to convey this information to the Committee at this time."

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