Open Thread on Sen. Grassley’s Kangaroo Kavanaugh Confirmation Hearing

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These confirmation hearings are pretty much the worst thing I’ve ever heard, and it’s mostly Committee Chair Chuck Grassley’s fault.  The Republicans are right that it’s a national disgrace — but it’s not due to the Democrats, with the possible exception of Dianne Feinstein, who in her defense was put in a no-win situation once she received a report that she was not supposed to release.  Note that she was attacked both for delay (due to her honoring the request for confidentiality) and for lack of delay (because it somehow — not at all clearly through her — became public anyway, most likely, it seems, due to her leaving a tip on the Washington Post’s anonymous tip line.)

I’ve been listening to part of this on the radio, so I’m going to try to catch up — and will add to this introduction as I go.  I’m starting the overriding observations at #1, the point by point portions at #11.

(1) Kavanaugh does not belong on the Supreme Court because he has all but explicitly threatened retribution on his enemies if placed on the Supreme Court.  He can’t even pretend to “call balls and strikes as they are.”

(2) Kavanaugh does not belong on the Supreme Court because he has no respect for process.  He is refusing to answer questions — being evasive and misleading and maudlin as possible — and using his time to make (largely repetitive) speeches and specious legal and factual arguments, to ask questions of those ask questions of him.  He’s being allowed to do this only because Sen. Grassley — the guy holding the gavel — is letting him do it, because he’s made his mind up that this committee will not try to get the truth but just to be a rubber stamp.

(3) Kavanaugh does not belong on the Supreme Court because, based on what he exhibits today, he doesn’t even understand the process of fact-finding, or the role of facts in reaching conclusions.  Most of what he’s brought up is flat-out irrelevant to fact finding — a process that he’s thwarting.  That he is also spewing out unsubstantiated conspiracy theories about the Clintons setting up an ambush for him is one examples — and further examples will follow as transcripts become available.

(4) The notion that because he (supposedly) hasn’t been accused of sexual misconduct as an adult is at all indicative of what he did previously in his life is preposterous and offensive.  This is used to cover up sexual misconduct all the time — specifically because of how those bringing such charges are affected by them and how they are treated.

(5) The notion that an FBI investigation is useless because they don’t “make conclusions” is absurd.  Here’s what the FBI can do that individual members cannot: they can seek out and take as long as long as they’d like to ask witnesses as many questions as they would like without their ability to filibuster.  They can pose questions to the witnesses under a serious threat of prosecution — one that just isn’t present when someone’s lawyer is submitting a statement for them, and thus doesn’t as strongly deter them from perjury.  And every Senator in the room, as well as Kavanaugh, knows it.  What the FBI can do is collect asserted facts — which are then useful to the Senate (or others) in making credibility situations.  They can ask more perspicacious questions than a Senator (most of whom are not professional investigators) can ask in five minutes.  Watch how the investigator the Republicans used to hound and harry Dr. Blasey Ford was able to get information from her — such as about Sen. Feinstein recommending a law firm to her — over FAR more than five minutes.

(6) Part of the limit on the FBI’s ability to get deep into the history of Kavanaugh and the other witnesses is that there was no federal crime.  Well, THERE SURE IS NOW!  If Kavanaugh has lied to the Senate that IS, as Republicans have been noting, a federal crime — and FBI investigation of it would be entirely appropriate!

(7) As reporters have noted, Dr. Blasey Ford’s advance version of the testimony released yesterday pretty much matches what she said today.  Judge Kavanaugh’s testimony was very different from the advance version.  One possibility is that that was a feint intended to throw off questioners — after all, most people won’t know about the advance testimony.  Another possibility is that this was an audible called after Dr. Blasey Ford’s testimony this morning turned out to be so compelling.  His testimony was pretty much “red meat for the base” — and while one target was no doubt the Republican electorate, the main target by making this a partisan issue is the wavering Republican Senators Collins and Murkowski.

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(11) “Kavanaugh was an immature high schooler.”  Orrin Hatch, who is speaking as I write, is full of it.  Why are we looking at Kavanaugh’s high school writings and actions?  Because his high school years are when he supposedly tried to rape someone!  His contemporaneous writings are some of the best evidence one can get without the ability to subpoena witnesses — which has been denied to them.

(12) Kavanaugh pretending that Sen. Blumenthal’s bringing up his seeming implying about sexual relations with “Renate” in his yearbook is dragging HER name through the mud is absurd.  It says nothing about her and everything about him — and he’s hiding  behind her skirts.

(13) Asking questions is not a “one-and-done” process, if you want to get the truth.  One thing that happens is that one witness’s divulging of information raises new questions for other witnesses.  So the notion that “this [questioning today] IS the investigation” that several Republicans have raised today is ridiculous.

(14) Senator Tillis’s complaining that Democrats are going to try to stop the next nominated judge as well is pretty rich from someone complicit in denying Merrick Garland any hearing at all.  Boo-hoo, Senator.  And Tillis reading anything into the fact that the Democrats did not raise the Ramirez accusation says NOTHING about their merits that accusation — it just means that this hearing was not set up to HEAR those accusations.  Note that Ramirez was not invited to be a witness — and there would not be time to split between the Ford and Ramirez accusations if she had been!

(15) I didn’t know that Maryland had no statute of limitations on sexual assault cases.  I hope that Dr. Blasey Ford does take advantage of that — especially if Kavanaugh is raised to the Supreme Court, but even if he didn’t.

(16) Saying that witnesses say that an event “didn’t happen” when they weren’t necessarily in a position to see it is ridiculous.  The only person whose “testimony” is relevant to determining whether it happened is Mike Judge — and his was pointedly unsworn (and Kavanaugh says that he’s an unreliable witness.)

(17) The “I can’t believe that this is happening to you after a lifetime of public service” is pretty much what Bill Cosby’s defense has been.  They sure didn’t grant this consideration to Clinton.

(18) If these allegations have “destroyed Kavanaugh’s family forever,” it would have to be because his wife believes that the charges may be true.  If she believes otherwise, then his family will be fine.  Lots of people get defamed in public — believe me on this — without the later benefit of the daddy in the family being placed to the Supreme Court.

(19) The “leak of the letter” is a red herring.  Reporters came after Dr. Blasey Ford — they didn’t need the letter to do that, they just needed to know that she had made some charges.  The could put 2 and 2 together with investigation of the message she left on the tip line and a little shoe leather — or, as was noted after I had written the above, from people in whom she had confided.

(20) Sen. Kennedy, if Kavanaugh is an attempted rapist, he as probably also not a God-fearing man.

About Greg Diamond

Somewhat verbose attorney, semi-retired due to disability, residing in northwest Brea. Occasionally runs for office against bad people who would otherwise go unopposed. Got 45% of the vote against Bob Huff for State Senate in 2012; Josh Newman then won the seat in 2016. In 2014 became the first attorney to challenge OCDA Tony Rackauckas since 2002; Todd Spitzer then won that seat in 2018. Every time he's run against some rotten incumbent, the *next* person to challenge them wins! He's OK with that. Corrupt party hacks hate him. He's OK with that too. He does advise some local campaigns informally and (so far) without compensation. (If that last bit changes, he will declare the interest.)