The Morning Jolt

Law & the Courts

Jeff Flake Is a Sucker

(REUTERS/Caitlin Ochs)

I hope this is worth it to you, Senator Jeff Flake.

“Based on some of the reports we’ve seen this weekend, I’m very concerned about this because the White House should not be allowed to micromanage an FBI investigation,” Democratic Sen. Amy Klobuchar of Minnesota, who sits on the Senate Judiciary Committee, said on CNN’s “State of the Union.”

“While the White House decides who to nominate, and then that person is submitted to a background check, I have never heard that the White House, either under this president or other presidents, is saying, ‘well, you can’t interview this person, you can’t look at this time period, you can only look at these people from one side of the street from when they were growing up,’” Klobuchar said.

Asked on ABC’s “This Week” whether she thought the FBI investigation would be credible, Hawaii Democratic Sen. Mazie Hirono said, “That’s going to be the big outstanding question.”

“I would think that Jeff Flake and the other senators who are going for this investigation will call for — there’s time, you know,” said Hirono, who is also a Judiciary Committee member. “The thing is that every Senate vote matters and there is . . . time to get to the bottom of it, even if it’s seven days.

“That’s bad enough,” Hirono continued. “But then to limit the FBI as to the scope and who they’re going to question, that, that really — I wanted to use the word farce — but that’s not the kind of investigation that all of us are expecting the FBI to conduct.”

Democrats don’t want an FBI investigation just into the accusations against Kavanaugh; they want an FBI investigation into whether others remember Kavanaugh drinking more during his college years than he described in the hearing:

As agents conducted their review, which involves interviewing four potential witnesses, a college professor in North Carolina became the latest in a series of former Yale classmates of Judge Kavanaugh’s to accuse him of giving untruthful testimony by minimizing his use of alcohol when he was a student.

The professor, Chad Ludington, said he frequently saw Judge Kavanaugh “staggering from alcohol consumption” during their student years. He said he planned to tell his story to the F.B.I. at its office in Raleigh, N.C., on Monday. A spokesman for the White House declined to comment on Mr. Ludington’s allegations.

Former U.S. attorney Harry Litman, writing in the New York Times op-ed page today:

Any good agent would follow up on [Kavanaugh’s] comment [about his yearbook] by asking the judge to identify the friends he discussed the yearbook with in the week before the hearing. That agent would then proceed to talk to each friend and probably other Georgetown Prep classmates who might shed light on the meaning of terms such as “devil’s triangle,” “boofing” and “100 kegs or bust.”

This is where we are: Democrats are insisting unless we can say precisely what the slang term “boofing” meant amongst teenagers in 1980s suburban Maryland, the investigation is not complete.

I suspect Flake thought he was doing the right thing by giving Kavanaugh a way to dispel the accusations against him, and also by taking away the biggest argument from the Democrats, that “we need an FBI investigation.” But he assumed what few other Republicans did: that these objections from Democrats were made in good faith.

Jeff Flake is a sucker. People acting in good faith don’t leak the name of a woman making sexual-assault accusations when she has asked to remain anonymous. People acting in good faith don’t withhold information about accusations as serious as this from their colleagues for two months. People acting in good faith don’t unveil the accusation after the confirmation hearings. People acting in good faith don’t tout the investigative abilities of the FBI for months and then turn around and express doubt that they’ll get the answers once they get that investigation.

A Democrat acting in good faith would say, “Whatever you think of the allegations by Ms. Ford and Ms. Ramirez, the allegations brought forth by Michael Avenatti’s client — claiming that at age 15, Brett Kavanaugh began organizing weekly gang-rape parties that involved dozens of assailants, victims, and witnesses, that involved acquiring and slipping young women Quaaludes, and continued a relentless gang-rape spree for three years, and not a single victim or witness ever went to police, a parent, a teacher or other responsible adult — are extremely implausible and represent a smear.”

Senator Dianne Feinstein has done the opposite, calling for the FBI to investigate those farfetched claims:

“Each of these stories are troubling on their own and each of these allegations should be investigated by the FBI. All three women have said they would like the FBI to investigate; please do so. All three have said they have other witnesses and evidence to corroborate their accounts.”

We will see what happens in a few days, when the FBI brings back its report.

There’s always the remote possibility that the FBI report comes back with some compelling new evidence of Kavanaugh breaking the law. But if it doesn’t, we already know what Democrats will say; most of us could guess it on Friday. The Democrats will always move the goalposts. They will always point to new vague allegations, new “troubling rumors,” more long-forgotten acquaintances who just happened to remember some stunning new scandalous behavior and who are just coming forward now. Apparently, none of these terrible acts by Kavanaugh were serious enough to report to authorities at the time, somehow all of them managed to escape the attention of the six FBI background investigations over the years, and none of them were worth bringing up when he was nominated to be a federal judge in 2006.

Flake gave Democrats the FBI investigation they demanded; in exchange, they will give him nothing but another week of implausible accusations of horrific crimes by Kavanaugh, and more accusations that he himself as a senator is insufficiently opposed to sexual assault.

Lest There Be Any Confusion . . .

At least one reader had an objection to a section of Friday’s Morning Jolt:

Ford described herself, quite compellingly, as being in a state of relief after getting out of the house, no doubt frightened and shaken and traumatized by what she had just experienced. While anything is possible, one would think that anyone who encountered her immediately after that event — such as someone who drove her home — would notice that something was terribly wrong.

Some interpreted that as a contention on my part that there’s a right and wrong way to respond to sexual assault — which I don’t think is a fair interpretation at all, particularly a sentence that begins “while anything is possible.” But lest there be any doubt, no, there is no right or wrong way to respond to a sexual assault. Perhaps what I wrote reflects the widespread desire to have faith in our own skills of observation — that if someone close to us had recently suffered a terrible, traumatic event, we would be able to tell. No doubt some assault victims try very hard to hide their experience from everyone.

Why Are Recent Events Difficult to Recall As Well?

Sexual-assault investigator Rachel Mitchell provided an analysis of Christine Blasey Ford’s testimony. Among her observations and conclusions:

  • Ford said the alleged assault occurred in “the mid-1980s” in a July 6 text to the Washington Post; by September, she told the paper that it occurred in summer of 1982.
  • Ford refused to provide any notes from her therapist to the committee.
  • The notes of the therapist described in the Post article say that four boys were in the room when she was assaulted; Ford says the therapist made an error. In her letter to Feinstein, Ford said “me and four others” were at the party. Testifying before the committee, she said the party had herself, Leland Keyser, and four boys, but she can only remember three of their names.
  • In the statement to the polygrapher, Ford described P.J. Smith as a “bystander.” In her statement to the polygrapher, she did not list Leland Keyser. While testifying to the committee, she said P.J. Smith was not in the room and did not witness the attack, and that it was inaccurate to describe him as a bystander.
  • Perhaps most oddly, Ford said she could not recall if she showed the Washington Post reporter the full or partial set of therapy notes. Ford said she could not recall if she summarized the therapist’s notes for the reporter or whether she showed the notes to the reporter. These are events that occurred about three months ago, not years ago.
  • She claimed she reached out to the Post because she “did not know how” to contact her senator.
  • She could not remember the date of the polygraph or whether she was video or audio recorded.

ADDENDUM: One year ago tonight was the Las Vegas shooting, the deadliest mass shooting in American history. The official conclusion of investigators is that they could not determine the motive of the shooter.

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