As part of his over-the-top audition for Donald Trump to make him the next Attorney General, Lindsey Graham went on a rant during Thursday’s hearing and declared “This is the most unethical sham since I’ve been in politics”. Sadly, he is absolutely correct, but in exactly the opposite way that he means.
The whole, hurried process for getting Kavanaugh confirmed has been a sham from the beginning. In early August, the National Archives informed the Judiciary Committee that it would take until late October for it to review and release all of the documents the Committee had requested, primarily because of Kavanaugh’s extensive political work with the Ken Starr investigation and in the Bush White House. The Republicans on the Judiciary Committee decided to press forward anyway and instead rely on the documents release by the Bush Presidential Library. The release of those documents were presided over by Kavanaugh’s subordinate at the Bush White House, someone who certainly has his own personal reasons to suppress potentially damaging documents.
But the Republicans on the Judiciary Committee refused to release even all of those documents. Instead, about one third of those documents were deemed “Committee confidential” which allowed only the Senators on the Committee to review them, but not release them to the public. In addition, the White House refused to release over 100,000 related documents. Then, literally hours before the hearing began, the White House released over 40,000 documents, leaving virtually no time for the Committee to review them.
Many of the documents that were not released covered periods in Kavanaugh’s work at the Bush White House. Those documents may have shed some light on whether Kavanaugh perjured himself in his prior testimony before the Committee when he was confirmed for the Court of Appeals in 2006. The areas Democrats were most interested in were his involvement in the Bush torture policy and his involvement with Bush judicial nominees who were aided by a Republican staffer who hacked into the Democrats’ computers and passed their strategies on opposing those nominees to the White House.
In fact, Democrats ended up defying Grassley and releasing some of the “Committee confidential” documents from Kavanaugh’s White House work where he seemed to advocate racial profiling, while at the same targeting programs for Native Hawaiians and Alaskans. In addition, some of the other documents released supported the belief that Kavanaugh had previously perjured himself in his prior confirmation hearing. Emails to Kavanaugh with the heading “spying” that opened with “I have a friend who is a mole for us on the left” made it clear that he probably knew the Democrats emails had been stolen, despite his denials in 2006 and then again in these hearings.
So, even before Thursday’s hearing with Christine Blasey Ford, there was plenty of evidence that Kavanaugh had repeatedly perjured himself. And he continued that pattern during his off-the-rails rant on Thursday afternoon. Others have detailed the full extent of Kavanaugh’s lies and shading of the truth during that testimony. Moreover, the hearing itself was a sham in that the Committee refused to require Mark Judge to appear or even provide a statement under oath. Nor did it address the evidence from Kavanaugh’s other two accusers or any of Ford’s supporting witnesses. In addition, the Republicans and the Trump White House refused to reopen the FBI background check, which could potentially bring some clarity to the accusations. The whole process was designed to create the impression of a “he said/she said” situation where it would be impossible to really determine any truth. Without that clarity, Kavanaugh could then be confirmed.
It was more shame than sham that it took until literally seconds before the vote on Friday for one lone Republican to at least that the process for putting Kavanaugh on the Court had become so corrupt that it needed to be derailed for at least a short time. Despite the hype from the mainstream media, this was not a moment of “bipartisanship” but of one lone Republican leaving the party’s hyper-partisan bubble and simply making take a perfectly normal request for a short investigation that any reasonable person would do.
But, even then, the Republicans could not keep from corrupting the process even further. Instead they have limited the scope of the FBI investigation so narrowly that it is only barely more open than the Thursday hearing. Reporting on this has varied but, according to one source, the FBI has been restricted to only interview four people, Mark Judge, Ford’s friend Leland Keyser, Kavanaugh’s friend P.J. Smyth, and Deborah Ramirez, Kavanaugh’s second accuser. That list strikingly does not include Judge’s former girlfriend, who is willing to testify that Judge admitted to her that he took part in something that remarkably similar to what Ford and Swetnick allege. It does not include Swetnick herself or apparently any of her allegations It does not include determining whether Judge worked at a nearby supermarket as Ford alleges and Judge seems to confirm in his book, something that may more accurately determine the date of incident. It does not include interviewing his friend Timmy and reviewing the layout of his house, which is where the July 1 party took place, in order to see if it matches up with Ford’s recollections. It does not include the now over half dozen colleagues of Kavanaugh in both high school and college who have stated that he was a frequent, sloppy, and often angry drunk. Many of those colleagues coming forward now are reportedly finding the FBI unreceptive to the information they want to provide.
Of course, Flake will still vote for Kavanaugh because “I’m a conservative. He’s a conservative.”, apparently disregarding the evidence of his clear unfitness for the Supreme Court that exists outside of his possibly being a rapist. Flake’s attitude is reflective of a most disturbing pattern concerning Kavanaugh since his hearing on Thursday. His demeanor and attitude throughout the hearing was disqualifying on its face. His raging anger only highlighted the probability that he might have attacked a woman in a drunken fit. He insulted Amy Klobuchar and was forced to apologize to her after a break, again highlighting that his respect for women was not as unbounded as he claimed. But most disqualifying of all was his decent into a blistering partisan attack, regurgitating the fever swamps of the right about a vast conspiracy driven by the Clintons, and making a not too veiled threat that the Democrats “sowed the wind, the country will reap the whirlwind.”.
The extent of Kavanaugh’s deceptions and his reflexive retreat into partisan hackery when threatened already prove he is unfit for the Court and his confirmation as the swing vote will tarnish that institution, perhaps irreparably. Instead, the Republicans are trying to use a totally sham process to essentially frame the decision that he should only be rejected if he is a proven rapist. That’s a pretty low bar. Support for Kavanaugh is often couched in the belief that he shouldn’t be punished today for some indiscretion in high school. I would venture to say that a large number of Democrats in this country would agree. Beyond disregarding that is exactly what happens to the poor and minorities and that we are talking about attempted rape, not a typical high school prank, that is not what is objectionable about Kavanaugh. It is the repeated lies that he is currently telling today. It is the possibility that he continues too lie about what happened with Ford. It is his retreat into partisan attack and anger right now when put under pressure. These are the reasons he should not be confirmed.
Throughout his entire confirmation hearings, Kavanaugh has been protected by “dude process” (h/t to Scott Lemieux for highlighting this concept but his link doesn’t seem to provide the actual writer). “That is the process that a dude gets when he is Just Asking Questions and some killjoy chick starts bugging him. Under dude process procedure the dude processes the criticism, decides it is wrong, and goes about his life remaining powerful and wealthy and care free. Dude process is connected to quid pro bro, which is an exchange of favors between two brosephs in positions of power who watch each other’s backs and take care of each other’a secrets…Dude diligence is the amount of dilligence you do when you have sworn an oath of service and are looking into the background of a dude who might become one of the most powerful people in the country. ‘Should we investigate Kavanaugh’s debt or what these emails that talk about secrets that must be hidden from spouses mean?’ ‘No. We don’t need to look into stuff. We’re just doing dude diligence in him. Just putting on enough of a show to claim he was vetted.’ Sometimes the application of dude diligence to a person can qualify as quid pro bro, and being investigated according to the standards of dude diligence is definitely a dude process right for rich white guys.” Snarky but so accurate.
Lindsey Graham was right, the Kavanaugh hearings are an unethical sham. His extreme judicial views were already out there from the decisions he has rendered. Rather, from the beginning, these hearings have been designed to protect the public from learning about Kavanaugh’s lies in 2006 and the extent of his extreme partisanship. And the process is a constant effort to protect Kavanaugh from the lies he continues to tell today and take the focus away from his anger and unfitness to serve. The GOP will get their man on the Court no matter what. All it will take is a little more dude process.