By Ranti Olaose
Published: October 3rd, 2018
What was supposed to be a smooth ride to a Supreme Court seat for Brett Kavanaugh has instead become a high stakes showdown since sexual assault allegations were levied against him, first by Dr. Christine Blasey Ford, a University professor who alleged that he nearly raped her at a party in 1982. Not long after, two other women came forward with their own allegations against him. Deborah Ramirez accused him of exposing himself to her at a party and Julie Swetnick alleged that he and his friend would often drink too excess at parties and become aggressive towards the girls around them. Kavanaugh denied all the allegations at an emotionally charged hearing on Thursday, where Dr. Ford was also present to answer questions from the Senate Judiciary Committee.
The contrast between Dr. Ford and Kavanaugh’s performance was striking. She calmly and gracefully answered the questions posed to her by both Democrats and the female sex crimes prosecutor that the Republicans on the Judiciary Committee had hired to avoid the optics of a group of older white men aggressively grilling a woman under duress. She attempted to answer every question posed to her, admitted where she couldn’t remember important details and even provided some expert testimony while she was at it, being a Psychology professor who could offer some insight into how the brain processes traumatic memories.
Kavanaugh, on the other hand, began his testimony with a venomous and conspiratorial missive that claimed that Democrats and “The Left” were out to destroy him as revenge for losing the 2016 election. Such a nakedly partisan speech by a nominee for what is supposed to be an impartial and non-political judicial position was disqualifying by itself. As if that wasn’t bad enough, he was belligerent and evasive during his questioning by Democratic senators who were attempting to assess his credibility and have him commit to a full FBI investigation into the allegations. One would expect him to be the loudest voice clamoring for a full investigation to clear his good name if the allegation was false as he claims, but instead he dodged, sputtered and stared blankly when asked if he wanted an FBI investigation to clear his name.
His credibility pales even further seeing that he lied under oath several times during his testimony, about seemingly minor details and important ones as well. He said that there had already been an investigation into the claims by the Judiciary committee, when in fact there wasn’t. Republicans refused to interview or subpoena Mark Judge, Kavanaugh’s friend named by Dr. Ford as an eyewitness and participant in the assault, to testify which would be a necessary first step into any proper investigation of the matter. None of the other alleged eyewitnesses have been interviewed or will testify; instead, they have all submitted sworn statements saying they don’t recall the incident.
The reluctance of the Republicans who control the Judiciary Committee to interview or subpoena Mark Judge in particular is a sign that they do not care if the allegations are true or not, a sentiment that some even expressed during the hearing. Kavanaugh’s lies didn’t stop there, as he stated that all the witnesses named had said it did not happen, when in fact they claimed they did not remember it, which is a significant difference. Kavanaugh also lied and evaded when asked about his drinking habits, which he knew would be the single most damning evidence against him. In a particularly striking exchange, when Senator Amy Klobuchar asked him if he had ever been blackout drunk, he defiantly flung her question back at her. When another Senator asked him about his drinking, his laughable answer was, “I got into Yale!” as though that precluded any drinking he may have done. It’s even more obvious he was lying about his drinking as many of his classmates and a former roommate have all come forward to say that he was in fact a heavy drinker and could be belligerent and aggressive when drunk. However, Kavanaugh is aware that admitting to this would significantly bolster the credibility of Dr. Ford’s account, so instead he chose to perjure himself in front of the committee.
Kavanaugh would probably have gotten away with all of this if not for the bravery of two women who confronted Senator Jeff Flake in an elevator on Capitol Hill after he announced he intended to vote for Kavanaugh. As he stood in shame, they passionately and forcefully made him realize the message he was sending to women everywhere, particularly to survivors of sexual assault like themselves, by voting for Kavanaugh. Flake relented and forced a delay of a week so that the FBI could conduct an investigation into the matter, the integrity of which is now in doubt since news reports have emerged that the White House imposed significant constraints on the scope of the investigation.
Regardless of how it turns out though, one thing is clear after Kavanaugh’s performance on Thursday. He does not have the temperament to sit on the Supreme Court for a lifetime as evidenced by his uncontrolled rage and belligerence, and he is not an independent and fair-minded judge but instead a political operative with a grudge as indicated by his truly disturbing opening speech. Most importantly, he does not have any regard for the law that he will be in charge of making if he gets on to the court. His repeated perjury alone is cause for immediate disqualification, and if the Republicans were the party of law and order as they have claimed for decades they would withdraw his nomination immediately. Instead, the nation braces for another week in which the already ugly partisan fight over this confirmation will only get uglier.