Advertisement
Opinion

Column: OK, the FBI’s Brett Kavanaugh inquiry was clearly a sham. So now what?

US-COURT-POLITICS-ASSAULT
Judge Brett M. Kavanaugh testifies to the Senate Judiciary Committee during his Supreme Court confirmation hearing on Capitol Hill in September 2018.
(Michael Reynolds / AFP/Getty Images)

There are two kinds of people in this country today: Those who believe that men who are credibly accused of sexually assaulting or harassing women are perfectly appropriate candidates for the U.S. Supreme Court … and the infuriated rest of us.

How else to explain reaction to a newly surfaced allegation of sexual misconduct against beer-loving Supreme Court Justice Brett M. Kavanaugh?

President Trump urged Kavanaugh to sue for libel and has urged the Justice Department to “rescue” Kavanaugh — how exactly the rescue would occur is not clear. Top-tier Democratic presidential candidates are calling for his impeachment. Sen. Elizabeth Warren, a front-runner, is advocating that both Trump and Kavanaugh be impeached, though that is unlikely.

Even if House Democrats were to bring articles of impeachment against Trump and/or Kavanaugh, the Republican-controlled Senate would certainly never vote to remove either from office. However, in the event that the House retains a Democratic majority and the Senate goes Democratic after the 2020 elections ... well, a girl can dream, can’t she?

Advertisement

Kavanaugh cemented the court’s conservative majority when he replaced former Justice Anthony M. Kennedy, a centrist who was often described as the quintessential swing vote.

Kavanaugh, confirmed by the narrowest margin in modern history, should never have been seated.

During his confirmation hearing, he shredded any pretense of judicial impartiality when he accused those who opposed his nomination of seeking “revenge on behalf of the Clintons” and “left-wing opposition groups.”

His main accuser, research psychologist Christine Blasey Ford, testified that Kavanaugh assaulted her in a private home at a high school party in the presence of his friend Mark Judge. “Indelible in the hippocampus,” she said, “is the laughter.” The hippocampus is the part of the brain where trauma is encoded as memory.

Advertisement

To borrow that phrase from Ford, indelible in my hippocampus is a man whose nastiness to Democratic senators, red-faced sputtering and self-pity showed him to be utterly unsuited for the job of Supreme Court justice.

Those calling for his impeachment believe that he lied repeatedly during those hearings — about his drinking, about the meaning of words in his high school yearbook (“boof” and “devil’s triangle”) and about the alleged college assaults, among other things.

Given what we know about Kavanaugh, his sense of entitlement and his affection for beer, the new story about his drunken college misbehavior, contained in a just released book by New York Times reporters Robin Pogrebin and Kate Kelly, is not even especially shocking.

In “The Education of Brett Kavanaugh,” they write that in addition to a previously known claim that a drunken Kavanaugh exposed himself to a Yale classmate named Deborah Ramirez, he is also alleged to have pushed his penis into the hand of a second female classmate during a drunken dorm party.

The classmate in the second case does not remember the incident, according to her friends, and declined to be interviewed by the reporters.

But a male classmate, Washington attorney Max Stier, who said he witnessed the event, contacted Delaware Democratic Sen. Chris Coons, who contacted FBI Director Christopher Wray, asking him to get in touch with Stier. The FBI never contacted Stier, and who knows how many other potential witnesses are out there?

Why didn’t the FBI properly investigate?

Because, as you probably recall, Trump and Senate Republicans restricted the time frame and limited the scope of the inquiry.

Advertisement

The resulting “investigation” was a sham.

If you think this was a singular event, don’t be too sure. If given the chance, Republicans would surely rush through another Supreme Court confirmation, facts and investigations be damned.

Keep praying for Ruth Bader Ginsburg.

::

On the day that Kavanaugh was confirmed to the U.S. Supreme Court, Trump told reporters aboard Air Force One, “One of the reasons I chose him is because there is nobody with a squeaky clean past like Brett Kavanaugh.”

The president said this with a straight face (I presume) even after the country had been riveted a week or so earlier by Ford’s testimony that when he was 17 and she was 15, Kavanaugh drunkenly pinned her to a bed, tried to undress her and ground his body against hers. When she tried to scream, she claimed, he put his hand over her mouth.

“I thought he might inadvertently kill me,” Ford said. “He was trying to attack me and remove my clothing.” She said she was saved only because one of Kavanaugh’s friends, Mark Judge, jumped on both of them and they all tumbled to the ground, whereupon she escaped.

Kavanaugh “categorically and unequivocally” denied the allegation. “I did not do this back in high school or at any time.” Judge said he had no memory of the event and had never witnessed such behavior from his friend; he also authored a memoir that detailed his blackout drinking as a high school student.

Advertisement

As I noted during Kavanaugh’s confirmation, Ford was far more credible than Kavanaugh. She was a traumatized teenager at the time of the alleged attack; he was a beer-swilling jock who made jokes in his yearbook about anal sex (“boofing”) and threesomes (“devil’s triangle”), then lied to the Senate about what those terms meant.

I would never suggest that he be charged with a crime for his alleged high school and college misbehavior. That would be pointless all these years later.

The issue was and is whether a man with such an explosive and accusatory temperament, who has been credibly accused of sexually assaulting women — even if the bad behavior occurred decades ago — should have been rewarded with a lifetime appointment on the highest court.

Surely our country deserves better.


Newsletter
Get our weekly Opinion newsletter
Advertisement