The Toxic Politics of the GOP's Plan to Save Brett Kavanaugh

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By Aaron P. Bernstein/Getty Images.

“This is the ugliest situation imaginable,” a source close to Senate Republican leadership told Axios, referring to the disastrous derailment of Brett Kavanaugh’s Supreme Court nomination by Christine Blasey Ford, a university professor who says Kavanaugh attempted to rape her at a party in high school. Behind the scenes, the G.O.P. is beginning to sweat Kavanaugh’s confirmation, caught between the fraught politics of the #MeToo era and a Republican electorate that backed Donald Trump, in part because he promised to win them control of the highest court in the land. And so, leadership has been careful not to discount Ford, making every effort to appear amenable to her version of events. “We’ve offered Dr. Ford the opportunity to share her story with the committee, as her attorney said yesterday she was willing to do,” Judiciary Committee Chairman Chuck Grassley said in a statement published Tuesday. On Wednesday, he raised the stakes, saying in a subsequent statement that he had not heard from Ford’s lawyers, and that Ford was required to submit a full biography and prepared testimony to the Committee by Friday morning, “if she intends to testify on Monday.”

At the same time, Republicans and the White House are seemingly doing everything in their power to undermine Ford, and create conditions that might persuade her that testifying isn’t worth the excruciating emotional toll. In a letter to the Judiciary Committee Tuesday night, Ford’s lawyers stated flatly that “a full investigation by law-enforcement officials will ensure that the crucial facts and witnesses in this matter are assessed in a nonpartisan manner, and that the committee is fully informed before conducting any hearing or making any decisions.” “Asking her to come forward in four or five days and sit before the Judiciary Committee on national TV is not a fair process,” Lisa Banks, one of Ford’s lawyers, told the network. “If they care about doing the right thing here and treating this seriously as they have said, then they will . . . properly investigate this.” Though Grassley has offered a number of alternatives to a public hearing—most recently, reports emerged that he was open to sending representatives to Ford’s home state—he has repeatedly brushed off the notion of an F.B.I. investigation. “Nothing the F.B.I. or any other investigator does would have any bearing on what Dr. Ford tells the committee,” read his Tuesday statement, “so there is no reason for any further delay.”

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