Call this a clean-up on Aisle Right, as well as an affirmation that the Kavanaughcalypse requires some consequences for its bad actors. Yesterday, Tom Cotton made an argument for a Senate investigation into how the members of the Judiciary Committee handled an anonymous and unsubstantiated allegation regarding Brett Kavanaugh and turned it into a smear circus. Unfortunately, Cotton wandered into the fever swamps to argue for a grand conspiracy, whose debunking undermined Cotton’s reasonable call for a probe.
Today Mike Lee renews the demand for an investigation in this interview with Hugh Hewitt. Lee refrains from hanging the blame directly on Schumer, but insists that it belongs somewhere — and that there were too many coincidences to just shrug it off as bad luck:
HH: Yesterday, Senator Cotton said on this show that he believed from the start that Chuck Schumer’s political operation orchestrated this, including Dr. Ford’s statement. He incorrectly stated that a friend of Dr. Ford had worked for Preet Bharara. In fact, she had worked for the FBI at the same time that Preet Bharara was the Southern District of New York U.S. Attorney, and we’ve corrected that. But what do you think? Was Chuck Schumer driving this bus?
ML: I don’t know whether it was Chuck Schumer himself. It certainly could have been. But there was something going on here, because there was a decision made somewhere along the line after they became aware of this information, and six weeks until it actually came out. They were doing stuff. They were hiring legal counsel referred by Senator Feinstein. They were taking polygraphs on the same day as Dr. Ford’s grandmother’s funeral. They were doing all this stuff at a time when allegedly she didn’t want to talk to anyone, and yet she wasn’t being informed by her own legal team that she had the opportunity to be interviewed in the privacy and comfort of her own home. She was never told that. So apparently somebody along the way decided that this was going to be a media circus, and they wanted to launch it at exactly the right time. That’s disgusting. That makes Dr. Ford a victim, at a minimum, of negligence by her lawyers, at a maximum of a deliberate campaign to misuse her. And I think that’s tragic. I think that needs to be looked into.
Of all the curiosities listed by Lee, the most curious of all is Ford’s contention that she was unaware that Chuck Grassley had offered to go to her rather than force her to come to DC. Not only did Grassley make that offer repeatedly to her attorneys, but also repeatedly mentioned it publicly. The media covered that offer, too, a number of times. Grassley extended that offer in response to the representation from Ford’s attorneys that Ford could not fly, a representation that turned out to be embarrassingly false.
Lee takes that claim at face value, but that seems difficult to credit, given the wall-to-wall coverage of the exchanges. The point of the flying phobia was to put off the second hearing as long as possible. Grassley, the other Senate Republicans, and Kavanaugh himself wanted it done immediately or not at all. Ford, her attorneys, and Senate Democrats demanded it wait until she could travel by car to DC. That gave 10 days for others to launch allegations against Kavanaugh, allowing the media to talk about a “pattern” of accusations without mentioning that there wasn’t any corroboration for any of them, as the FBI later found. Having the committee come to her immediately would have closed that window much more quickly, which is why the attorneys publicly rejected the offer.
Was Ford oblivious to all of those machinations? It’s possible, but it doesn’t seem very likely, especially given the other “coincidences” Lee notes. That doesn’t mean Ford was the one plotting them or even agreeing with them — she could well have been exploited even if she knew what was going on — but to conclude that she was completely in the dark also assumes facts not in evidence.
If they did keep Ford uninformed of her options, that would raise ethics issues for the attorneys. Hugh wonders if the Bar should open its own probe, but Lee counsels that the Senate should just focus on its own issues:
HH: I’m a member of the D.C. Bar. I’m also a member of the California Bar. I don’t know how one launches bar complaints, but that struck me as deserving one.
ML: Yeah, and look, we don’t have jurisdiction to launch a bar complaint. But what we do have jurisdiction to look into here is to find out where this leak came from, because it looks like it might well have come from a member of our committee, or that member’s staff. And we need to find that out.
Indeed we do, and that starts with the Judiciary Committee itself and the office of Dianne Feinstein. The Senate Ethics Committee should also open a probe into the leak, and perhaps the House Ethics Committee should do the same given Rep. Anna Eshoo’s involvement with Ford’s complaint. Don’t hold your breath waiting for any of the above to do their jobs, though.