Kavanaugh has his turn
by Harvest Prude
Posted 9/27/18, 08:39 pm
WASHINGTON—Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh followed the testimony of Christine Blasey Ford with a visceral and emotional defense before the Senate Judiciary Committee Thursday afternoon, as he continued to deny Ford’s claim he sexually assaulted her at a party during their teenage years.
In an anger-wrought opening statement, Kavanaugh criticized Democrats for using the accusations by Ford and two other women from his high school and college days as a “calculated and orchestrated political hit,” adding that they were motivated by anger at President Donald Trump and sought revenge on behalf of the Clintons. Kavanaugh also questioned the integrity of the confirmation process: “If a mere allegation, if a mere assertion of an allegation … is enough to destroy a person’s life and career, we will have abandoned the basic principles of fairness and due process.”
At the end of the nearly nine-hour hearing, Kavanaugh told Sen. John Kennedy, R-La., he was “100 percent certain” he did not assault Ford, though he admitted she may have been attacked by someone else. “I swear that under oath, before the Senate and the nation, before my family and my God, I am innocent of this charge,” he said.
During Ford’s testimony, Republicans stayed mostly silent, allowing prosecutor Rachel Mitchell to take the lead on questioning, a strategy they initially stuck to with Kavanaugh. But Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., threw out the GOP playbook and used his turn during the Kavanaugh portion of the hearing to deliver a blistering speech directed at his Democratic colleagues. He called their part in the process a “scam” that he hopes “the American people will see through.” Pointing his finger at committee Democrats, he charged, “What you want to do is destroy this guy’s life, hold this seat open, and hope you win in 2020.”
Democrats in their questioning often focused on Kavanaugh’s drinking habits during his teenage years. In his responses, Kavanaugh admitted to drinking beer while in high school: “Sometimes I had too many beers, sometimes others did.” But he denied drinking “to the point of blacking out” but did say he might have fallen asleep a few times. To offer proof he wasn’t at the party in question, Kavanaugh often pointed to his calendar documenting he was rarely in town during the summer of 1982, the time Ford believes the alleged attack occurred.
Throughout the day’s proceedings, Republican and Democratic members of the committee continued to spar over how each side handled the process. Republicans decried the timing of the revelation of the accusations while Democrats castigated their GOP colleagues for not requesting an FBI investigation. Committee Democrats repeatedly asked Kavanaugh if he would demand the White House have the FBI reopen his background check and submit to further investigation into the accusations, but he would not directly answer the question and appeared uneasy each time the topic was broached. But he did say he was open to do anything the committee asked of him.
Kavanaugh noted he and his family bore “no ill will” toward Ford or her family, noting that his 10-year-old daughter, Liza, had suggested the other night that they should pray for Ford.
After the hearing was adjourned, President Trump weighed in, calling Kavanaugh’s testimony “powerful, honest, and riveting. Democrats’ search and destroy strategy is disgraceful and this process has been a total sham and effort to delay, obstruct, and resist. The Senate must vote!”
And it appears it will: Republicans on the Judiciary Committee have scheduled a vote on Kavanaugh’s nomination for Friday morning, and the full Senate could hold a procedural vote as early as Saturday.
Editor’s note: Read Harvest Prude’s report on Christine Blasey Ford’s testimony Thursday before the Senate Judiciary Committee.
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Harvest is a reporter for WORLD based in Washington, D.C.