‘This has been, sadly, one of the most shameful chapters in the history of the United States Senate.’
(Ben Sellers, Liberty Headlines) Nearly nine hours of back-and-forth between the 21-member Senate Judiciary Committee and the two people at the center of a sex allegation that gripped the nation–Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh and his accuser, Christine Blasey Ford–brought little sense of resolution on Thursday.
As Arizona Sen. Jeff Flake said toward the close of the hearing, “In the end, we are 21 imperfect senators trying to do our best to provide advice and consent… I hope that people will recognize that there is doubt … and just have a little humility on that front.”
However, Flake, among the most closely watched Senators who could potentially swing the confirmation vote, along with Sens. Susan Collins of Maine and Lisa Murkowski of Alaska, offered no further clues as to how he would go during his final minute of floor time.
If the “doubt” he referenced was a signal that he required further investigation to proceed in the form of FBI interviews with alleged eyewitness Mark Judge and polygraph administrator Jerry Hanafin, it would be tantamount to siding with the committee’s 10 Democrats, who repeatedly hammered Kavanaugh to ask President Donald Trump to initiate an investigation.
Kavanaugh struggled at times to contain his emotion and to answer questions candidly while maintaining an awareness of the optics as interrogators like New Jersey Sen. Cory Booker attempted to bait him into making negative statements against Ford.
“Do you think that somehow we’re engaging in something that is despicable,” Booker asked.
Sen. Kamala Harris also took a hard line, questioning why the committee had so easily cleared Justice Neil Gorsuch, Trump’s first nominee who bore similar credentials.
Kavanaugh repeatedly underscored the fact that all of the supposed witnesses to the event alleged by Ford had denied any recollection of such a party, as his Republican supporters on the panel reminded America that the burden of proof was not on Kavanaugh to have to prove a negative–that it didn’t happen–without any corroborating evidence that it did.
Texas Sen. Ted Cruz and others also continued to criticize the political tactics that had set the chain of events in motion by California Sen. Dianne Feinstein’s failure to disclose a letter from Ford during the previously concluded hearing.
Feinstein jumped in at one point to deliver a “point of personal privilege” defending her actions as an effort to maintain confidentiality and insisting that neither she nor her staffers leaked the letter at the eleventh hour of the proceedings.
Feinstein posited as an alternative that Ford’s confidantes may have been responsible: “She testified that she had spoken to her friends about it.”
But Kavanaugh missed the opportunity for a poignant and cathartic conclusion the the testimony as Louisiana Sen. John Kennedy said, “I’m going to give you a last opportunity—right in front of God, in front of country” to deny the charges.
Once again, Kavanaugh clearly and unequivocally denied them.
The Judiciary Committee is scheduled to vote at 9:30 a.m. Friday whether to recommend Kavanaugh to the full Senate, and there is little doubt that the intervening hours of the news cycle will be fraught with as much high tension and drama as any in the unfolding saga.
Cruz, a longtime acquaintance of Kavanaughs who himself was assailed earlier in the week while dining at a restaurant near the Capitol, was one of many Republican senators whose sharp assessments of the historic moment hardly seemed hyperbolic: “This has been, sadly, one of the most shameful chapters in the history of the United States Senate.”