Sep 20, 2018
If there's one person in America who should want a full, detailed investigation of the sexual assault claim against Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh, it's Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh.He'll likely be confirmed either way, given the partisan fervor to jam another conservative onto the high court before the midterm elections in November. But wouldn't a judge with any sense of integrity -- or even an eye toward his own legacy -- want to avoid a weighty asterisk on the capstone of his career?
Without a fair and proper hearing on these allegations, one that at least includes the witness Kavanaugh's accuser says was in the room, Kavanaugh will always be remembered as a judge who made it to the Supreme Court sneakily. A man who didn't advocate to clear his own name and let a woman's life be destroyed in the process. He might go on to be as fair and principled a justice as we've ever seen, but that stain will remain.
Without a fair and proper hearing on these allegations, one that at least includes the witness Kavanaugh's accuser says was in the room, Kavanaugh will always be remembered as a judge who made it to the Supreme Court sneakily.
I don't know whether Kavanaugh did the horrible things he's accused of doing. He has emphatically denied the allegations, and many have described him as a good and decent man.
But many -- from close friends who knew she was considering coming forward with her claim against Kavanaugh to colleagues and nearly 600 alumnae from her high school -- have also described Christine Blasey Ford, a clinical psychology professor at Palo Alto University in California, as a good and decent woman. Her allegation that a drunken Kavanaugh pushed her into a bedroom at a high school house party in the 1980s and sexually assaulted her while a friend of his watched is certainly credible.
She came forward, anonymously at first, with notes from a therapist she spoke to about the incident long before Kavanaugh was a candidate for the high court and with a successful polygraph conducted by a former FBI agent.
Does that mean it happened? Of course not. But it means Ford is coming forward with more than just some idle claim. It's worthy of a thorough investigation, one that Kavanaugh himself, if he's innocent, should be demanding.
But he's not. He's willing to appear at a hastily scheduled hearing Monday in front of the Senate Judiciary Committee and give his side of the story. But it's Ford -- who is also invited to testify at that hearing -- who is calling for an FBI investigation into her claim before she testifies.
A letter her lawyers sent to the committee late Tuesday reads in part: "A full investigation by law enforcement officials will ensure that the crucial facts and witnesses in this matter are assessed in a non-partisan manner, and that the committee is fully informed before conducting any hearing or making any decisions."
That seems like a sensible request. And let me stress: It's the accuser who is asking investigators to dig more deeply into her accusations. That's not the behavior of someone making outrageous claims.
Why on Earth would a judge -- a person who has devoted his life to the practice of law -- not want a thorough investigation at least as badly as his accuser?
As it stands now, the Senate Judiciary Committee doesn't even plan to call the one potential witness to the alleged assault, Kavanaugh's high school friend Mark Judge. That friend, via an attorney, notified the committee Tuesday that he doesn't want to testify:
"I have no more information to offer the Committee and I do not wish to speak publicly regarding the incidents described in Dr. Ford's letter."
Respectfully, it shouldn't make a bit of difference whether Judge wishes to testify -- that's what subpoenas are for -- and he has already spoken publicly, defending Kavanaugh and saying he has "no memory of this alleged incident." But that carries no weight unless it's under oath. If he's not willing to say that under oath, you have to question how confident he is that those words are true.
The fact that Ford, in her description of that night in high school, placed a witness who was friends with Kavanaugh in the room only adds to her credibility. And for the committee to not consider it crucial to get testimony from that witness is absurd.
But again, what's even more absurd is that Kavanaugh himself isn't begging his former classmate to testify. Kavanaugh is the one who should want his name cleared and his accuser's claims discredited via a fair investigation and hearing.
Even President Donald Trump seems to think all the bases should be covered, saying Tuesday: "With all of that, I feel that the Republicans -- and I can speak for myself -- we should go through a process, because there shouldn't even be a little doubt."
There shouldn't be any doubt. Not a bit. And the one person who should most want all doubt eliminated is the person who stands on the precipice of a lifetime appointment to a monumentally influential court where he'll be expected to make sound, fair decisions based on evidence and the rule of law.
The person who should be demanding an FBI investigation into these accusations is Judge Brett Kavanaugh. That should be more important to him than anything right now.
But instead, the only person asking for a thorough investigation is Ford, the woman Republicans are aggressively trying to discredit and ignore, the woman who, according to The New York Times, has had to leave her home due to death threats and all manner of online harassment.
I don't know who is telling the truth.
But I know that right now, the woman who claims a drunk, 17-year-old future Supreme Court nominee climbed on top of her, tried to take her clothes off and covered her mouth with his hand sounds a lot more confident in her story than the man heading toward a seat on the high court. A seat that may well wind up irrevocably tainted.
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