So Now What Happens in the Kavanaugh Hearings?

Committee vote on Thursday looks iffy amid questions whether he and accuser will testify
By Newser Editors,  Newser Staff
Posted Sep 17, 2018 1:47 PM CDT
Crucial Senators Are Calling for a Kavanaugh Delay
Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh.   (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite)

The Brett Kavanaugh confirmation saga heated up in a big way Monday, with increased calls for a delay in the process to examine the allegation that he tried to sexually assault a girl at a high school party in the 1980s. President Trump himself said a "little delay" is no big deal. Kavanaugh, meanwhile, insisted anew that the allegation is false, and both he and accuser Christine Blasey Ford say they are willing to go before the Senate Judiciary Committee. Details and related developments in the contentious Supreme Court nomination:

  • Now what? As of now, the Senate Judiciary Committee was still scheduled to vote on Kavanaugh's nomination Thursday, reports the Wall Street Journal, but the prospects of that happening were growing increasingly unlikely. All 10 Democrats on the panel want Chairman Chuck Grassley to postpone while the allegation is investigated, and, crucially, at least one Republican on the 21-member committee also favors a delay. That would be Jeff Flake.
  • Will they testify? Whether Kavanaugh and Ford will appear before the panel is unclear. Grassley said he was trying to arrange phone call interviews with the pair, seemingly to avoid in-person testimony, per the AP. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell supported this "by the book" approach, saying private interviews were the standard approach in such cases. But Democrats, especially Dianne Feinstein, were resisting; they want the FBI to pick up the investigation from here.

  • Key senators: These numbers were changing quickly, but as of Monday afternoon, six GOP senators have said they want the panel to hear Ford's account (Flake, Susan Collins, Lisa Murkowski, Ron Johnson, Bob Corker, and Roy Blunt), "a large enough group to raise serious doubts about whether the nomination will proceed," per Politico. In addition, three red-state Democrats seen as swing votes (Joe Donnelly, Heidi Heitkamp, and Joe Manchin) agree, reports the Washington Post.
  • The big comparison: Lots of pundits are comparing the situation to that of the Anita Hill controversy during Clarence Thomas' confirmation hearings, and this could be a real test of how much #MeToo has changed things, writes Eugene Scott at the Washington Post. Americans largely didn't believe Hill, writes Janie Velencia at FiveThirtyEight. "But given how views on sexual misconduct have changed, it’s difficult to imagine the public responding to the allegations against Kavanaugh as they did to Hill—even if he’s eventually confirmed."
  • Supporting Ford: So far, more than 200 alumnae of her high school—the private Holton-Arms in Bethesda, Maryland—have a signed a letter in support of Ford, reports the Huffington Post. “We believe Dr. Blasey Ford and are grateful that she came forward to tell her story,” says the draft letter. Signees include graduates from a wide range of years who say Ford's allegation “is all too consistent with stories we heard and lived while attending Holton. Many of us are survivors ourselves.”
  • Supporting Kavanaugh: The conservative Judicial Crisis Network is moving ahead with a $1.5 million ad blitz in support of the judge that will feature a longtime friend of his, reports the Hill. "We are not going to allow a last-minute smear campaign [to] destroy a good and decent man who has an unblemished personal record," said a spokesperson.
  • A promise: Axios reports that Kavanaugh backers are expected to use "aggressive tactics" this week to keep the nomination moving forward, though the situation on the ground was changing quickly. If the nomination does go down, however, "we’ll just bring in someone more conservative," one source tells the news site.
(Read more Brett Kavanaugh stories.)

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