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Kavanaugh Would Face Ethical Issue on Bench

Columnist argues he'd have to recuse himself from all cases with left-leaning participants
By Newser Editors,  Newser Staff
Posted Oct 1, 2018 1:48 PM CDT

(Newser) – The accusations leveled against Brett Kavanaugh by Christine Blasey Ford may come down to his word against hers, and the prosecutor who questioned them both before a Senate panel writes that Ford's case is weak even by those standards. In a memo to Republican senators, the sex-crimes prosecutor hired by the GOP offers what she calls her "bottom line" assessment, reports Politico: "A ‘he said, she said’ case is incredibly difficult to prove," she writes. "But this case is even weaker than that. I do not think that a reasonable prosecutor would bring this case based on the evidence before the Committee. Nor do I believe that this evidence is sufficient to satisfy the preponderance-of-the-evidence standard.” Details and developments:

  • Mitchell's rationale: She lays out her reasons for her conclusion in the memo, saying among other things that Ford's account of the night in question has been inconsistent. Another big factor: Ford has no corroborating witnesses. Mitchell made a point to say she was speaking only from a legal perspective in terms of bringing a case to court.

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  • A case against Kavanaugh: In the Washington Post, conservative columnist Jennifer Rubin argues that Kavanaugh's denunciation of a Democratic conspiracy against him reveals him to be too politically biased to sit on the court. "Not to put too fine a point on it, but should not Kavanaugh recuse himself from every case involving a left-leaning group that is part of the conspiracy he decried?" (She quotes an "ethics guru"
    who agrees.) And if Kavanaugh didn't do that, the court's legitimacy would be decimated, she writes.
  • 40 percent: In a poll conducted over the weekend by Reuters/Ipsos, four in 10 Americans say they believe the sexual misconduct allegations against Kavanaugh, while about three in 10 do not. The rest don't know. The believers were about evenly split between men and women.
  • Flake's move: Republicans might not have been initially pleased with GOP Sen. Jeff Flake's successful for push for the new investigation into Kavanaugh, but Carl Hulse of the New York Times writes that the party should be thanking him. Democrats say it's doubtful the FBI can turn anything up in so short a time, and if they're right, Flake just gave wavering Republicans the cover they need to vote for Kavanaugh.
  • Tilting toward yes: Kavanaugh should feel "cautiously optimistic" at this point, former FBI agent Josh Campbell tells Chris Cillizza at CNN. "So long as the White House keeps the FBI on a tight leash and limited only to a very narrow focus, the findings are likely to only result in a he-said/she-said involving Ms. Ford's allegations of sexual assault."
  • Inquiry confusion: Even with the investigation underway, there's still confusion about its scope, reports the Wall Street Journal. Democrats say the White House worked with Republicans to tie the FBI's hands, a charge denied by both the White House and the GOP. "The lack of clarity extended to what investigators could ask witnesses, such as whether they would examine the accuracy of Judge Kavanaugh’s testimony last week on his drinking habits as a teen," per the Journal.
A Yale classmate says Kavanaugh has lied about his drinking habits. (Read more Brett Kavanaugh stories.)

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