Law & the Courts

Jeff Flake’s Terrible Idea

Arizona senator Jeff Flake listens as members of the Senate Judiciary Committee meet to vote on the nomination of Brett Kavanaugh to the Supreme Court, September 28, 2018. (Reuters/Jim Bourg)

Democrats want further delay in the Kavanaugh confirmation vote, and Friday afternoon Arizona senator Jeff Flake gave it to them. He insisted that the FBI take another week to re-open the background investigation into Brett Kavanaugh and the allegations against him. “I just wanted,” Flake explained, “to get some Democrats to agree and willing to come out and publicly say, ‘We would accept this’ and we would say that the process is fair at least, even if they’re not going to vote for it.”

Good luck. There is no chance whatsoever that this process will satisfy the Democrats, or the press, or anyone else who has already decided that Judge Kavanaugh must be destroyed. The best argument we have heard in favor of an FBI investigation is that it will help to neutralize the attacks against Kavanaugh, and thereby legitimize his lifetime tenure on the Court. But the Democrats in the Senate showed their cards long, long ago. Almost the entire caucus came out against him within hours of his nomination, and continues to oppose him now. Summing up the position neatly, Senator Chris Murphy wrote Friday that “of course there should be an FBI investigation,” before adding that “whatever they find doesn’t change the fact that Kavanaugh, especially after his performance yesterday, is the most dangerous Supreme Court pick of our lifetime.” Glad to see you’re keeping an open mind, Senator.

Whether Senator Flake had his change of heart because he was detained briefly in an elevator by activists who harangued him only he will ever know. Regardless, he should understand that the protester who shouted at him is firmly in the Murphy school of thought. “I feel relieved that @JeffFlake seems to have heard my and @AnaMariaArchil2’s voices in the Senate elevator today,” she wrote on Twitter. “We absolutely need an FBI investigation and for him and all Senators to vote NO. #StopKavanaugh.”

She is right, of course. This is a delaying tactic. It is a fishing expedition. It is, in effect, the extension of an assiduous and cynical campaign of character assassination. What, one wonders, does Senator Flake think that Democrats are going to do if, as will almost certainly be the case, the FBI concludes that Dr. Ford’s story still has no corroboration? Does he expect Kamala Harris and Cory Booker to say, “Well, we are satisfied, and we are voting for him?” Does he expect Dianne Feinstein to pen a paean to the majesty of the presumption of innocence?

As Judge Kavanaugh noted during his testimony — and as Joe Biden explained back in 1991 — calls for the FBI to do the work of the Senate are invariably a red herring. The FBI does not come to conclusions, and it does not investigate ancient state-level allegations that do not fall under the local statute of limitations. Lawyers for Christine Blasey Ford, meanwhile, have already begun to dissemble, delay, and defer. A week isn’t long enough, they say. The remit isn’t broad enough, they say. Their client objects, they say. And so they might, for it will surely be advantageous to shift from arguing “nobody innocent can fear investigation” to “being under investigation disqualifies you from elevation to the Supreme Court.”

Senator Flake should have known better than to have yielded this intermission. Surely, a week from now, the same Democrats he hoped to appeal to will be arguing for an even longer investigation.

The Editors comprise the senior editorial staff of the National Review magazine and website.

Most Popular

Politics & Policy

The Sinking Collusion Ship

The entire Trump-Russia collusion narrative was always implausible. One, the Washington swamp of fixers such as Paul Manafort and John and Tony Podesta was mostly bipartisan and predated Trump. Two, the Trump administration’s Russia policies were far tougher on Vladimir Putin than were those of Barack ... Read More
Politics & Policy

The Problem with Certainty

EDITOR’S NOTE: The following is Jonah Goldberg’s weekly “news”letter, the G-File. Subscribe here to get the G-File delivered to your inbox on Fridays. Dear Reader (Including those of you having this read to you while you white-knuckle the steering wheel trying to get to wherever you’re going for the ... Read More
Politics & Policy

The Worst Cover-Up of All Time

President Donald Trump may be guilty of many things, but a cover-up in the Mueller probe isn’t one of them. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, attempting to appease forces in the Democratic party eager for impeachment, is accusing him of one, with all the familiar Watergate connotations. The charge is strange, ... Read More

Theresa May: A Political Obituary

On Friday, Theresa May, perhaps the worst Conservative prime minister in recent history, announced her resignation outside of number 10 Downing Street. She will step down effective June 7. “I have done my best,” she insisted. “I have done everything I can. . . . I believe it was right to persevere even ... Read More
PC Culture

TV Before PC

Affixing one’s glance to the rear-view mirror is usually as ill-advised as staring at one’s own reflection. Still, what a delight it was on Wednesday to see a fresh rendition of “Those Were the Days,” from All in the Family, a show I haven’t watched for nearly 40 years. This time it was Woody Harrelson ... Read More
Politics & Policy

The Democrats’ Other Class War

There is a class war going on inside the Democratic party. Consider these two cris de couer: Writing in the New York Times under the headline “America’s Cities Are Unlivable — Blame Wealthy Liberals,” Farhad Manjoo argues that rich progressives have, through their political domination of cities such as ... Read More

The Deepfake of Nancy Pelosi

You’ve almost made it to a three-day weekend! Making the click-through worthwhile: A quick note about how National Review needs your help, concerns about “deepfakes” of Nancy Pelosi, one of the most cringe-inducing radio interviews of all time, some news about where to find me and the book in the near ... Read More

America’s Best Defense Against Socialism

The United States of America has flummoxed socialists since the nineteenth century. Marx himself couldn’t quite understand why the most advanced economy in the world stubbornly refused to transition to socialism. Marxist theory predicts the immiseration of the proletariat and subsequent revolution from below. ... Read More