On the one hand, Brett Kavanaugh’s confirmation is a done deal, right? The Senate has only allotted five minutes of questioning for each Senator (so, 50 minutes for the Democrats, and 55 minutes for the Republicans), and the Senate Committee has already scheduled a vote on Friday morning, giving Senators (and the public) less than 24 hours to process both Christine Blasey Ford and Brett Kavanaugh’s Thursday testimony. Moreover, the Republicans on the committee — all white men — will allot at least part of their time to allow Rachel Mitchell, the Division Chief of a Special Victims Division in Arizona, to question Ford, against Ford’s wishes to have attorneys present. Moreover, the attorney for Deborah Ramirez, who has also alleged sexual assault allegations at Kavanaugh, said that she was also willing to testify, but the Senate Committee apparently has not reached out to her.
The entire process is a sham.
On the other hand, the Republicans don’t actually have the votes yet. People assume that there are only four Republicans on the fence — Lisa Murkowski, Susan Collins, Jeff Flake, and Bob Corker — but Bob Corker says that there are actually more Republicans than that who are undecided. Murkowski, in particular, has been forceful about letting Blasey Ford be heard, and she’s decided that her testimony actually does matter: “We are now in a place where it’s not about whether or not Judge Kavanaugh is qualified. It is about whether or not a woman who has been a victim at some point in her life is to be believed.” Moreover, many of Murkowski’s key constituents in Alaska actually don’t want her to vote for Kavanaugh.
That’s one GOP vote that the GOP can afford to lose, so it comes down to Collins and Flake. Collins will vote against Kavanaugh if she’s not the decisive vote, because she’s a coward. So, it really comes down to Flake, and Flake’s vote is probably going to turn on the testimony on Thursday.
As for that testimony, things are at least trending against Kavanaugh. Christine Blasey Ford will have sworn affidavits from four people, who she said she told about the assault in the last five years.
Four friends of Dr. Christine Blasey Ford have signed affidavits saying she previously told them about her sexual assault. One friend said she discussed her assault in a discussion about the Brock Turner case. pic.twitter.com/JP4vX4g2hS— Ryan J. Reilly (@ryanjreilly) September 26, 2018
Moreover, two of the people who signed that letter in support of Brett Kavanaugh have basically changed their minds, asking for a full investigation. Yale Law professor Akhil Amar — who taught Kavanaugh and actually testified on his behalf — is now also asking for a full investigation.
Kavanaugh may have also overplayed his hand during his interview by depicting himself as a choirboy who was still a virgin in college. A Yale classmate of Kavanaugh’s disputes that, saying that Kavanaugh told him that he’d lost his virginity. Kavanaugh denies being part of the drinking culture, but both his yearbook and his high school and Yale classmates dispute that, some saying he was a “heavy drinker.”
“Brett was a sloppy drunk, and I know because I drank with him. I watched him drink more than a lot of people. He’d end up slurring his words, stumbling. There’s no medical way I can say that he was blacked out. . . . But it’s not credible for him to say that he has had no memory lapses in the nights that he drank to excess.”
Kavanaugh’s friend, Mark Judge, who wrote a book about his hard-drinking years and once gang raped a drunk woman, refuses to testify and the Senate refuses to call him, but he doesn’t help Kavanaugh’s case in either respect:
“I don’t think he has any idea who Judge is referring to either,” Kavanaugh’s lawyer was just asked about Mark Judge’s books, in particular the reference to a “Bart O”Kavanaugh” who puked in a car after a party.— Elizabeth Landers (@ElizLanders) September 26, 2018
An influential Mormon women’s group is also asking for an investigation, although that hasn’t dissuaded Orrin Hatch from calling out Democrats for their “smear job.”
Moreover, privately, Trump is not as big on Kavanaugh as he publicly suggests he is — he’s a “Bush guy,” and that makes him naturally suspicious to Trump.
Trump is sounding somewhat fatalistic about Kavanaugh in private discussions. Annoyed by the interview, and talking repeatedly about needing to see how the hearing goes before knowing what can happen next.— Maggie Haberman (@maggieNYT) September 26, 2018
In other words, as much as this sounds like a done deal, it’s not actually a done deal, and Christine Blasey Ford could actually prove pivotal. Granted, ultimately, we’re almost certainly going to end up with a conservative justice who will probably want to overturn Roe v. Wade, but there’s still an outside chance that it won’t be a conservative justice who is also a sexual abuser.
Trump, however, is going to do all he can to push him through, and that likely means using Rod Rosenstein tomorrow to distract the media. The DOJ had already drafted a statement on Monday about Rosenstein’s departure, naming Sessions’s Chief of Staff, Matt Whitaker, as the new Deputy AG, and writing that Noel Francisco would take over oversight of the Mueller probe. I expect that Trump will dangle the prospect of firing him again tomorrow during or soon after Blasey Ford’s Senate testimony in an effort to take the heat off Kavanaugh.