Is that right? The vibe I got from right-wing reaction yesterday to the New Yorker’s story was that it was hot garbage (I agree), promoting an allegation which Deborah Ramirez herself claims she was unsure about for the past 35 years before mysteriously recovering her memory in the past six days. Is MAGA Nation all-in on giving Ramirez a seat at the table alongside Christine Blasey Ford on Thursday?
Because if so, you should prepare for another delay. You know what Ramirez, aided by whichever Democratic handler is now working with her, will say to Sanders’s invitation. “I’d love to testify. It’s important that all victims be heard. But of course I can’t possibly do so on such short notice. I’ll need a week to prepare. At least.” Why would Sanders open the door to that? Presumably she knows that her boss is very anxious for this to be over:
Trump has been simmering with frustration over what one senior White House official dubbed the “molasses-like” pace of Kavanaugh’s confirmation in the Senate, where the president has also long blamed Republican leaders with slow-walking his border wall and other key agenda items.
Despite their public projections of unity, Trump and his aides behind the scenes see Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Charles E. Grassley (R-Iowa) as having been too accommodating to Christine Blasey Ford, the California professor who has alleged that Kavanaugh sexually assaulted her when he was 17, by delaying her hearing until Thursday. The president has said that Republicans are too easily manipulated by Democrats, that he is sick of Ford’s attorneys getting their way and that he does not believe her accusations are credible, according to a Republican briefed on Trump’s private comments.
He thinks they’ve been too accommodating to Ford — and now also wants them to accommodate Ramirez?
Maybe Sanders felt she had no choice but to give this answer. Stephanopoulos put her on the spot; if Sanders had said “No, we’ll listen to Ford but not Ramirez,” he would have countered by asking why one alleged victim should be heard but another. If #MeToo stands for anything it stands for the right of every alleged victim to at least have her accusation weighed by the relevant authority. If Ramirez’s story is in fact thinner than Ford’s, Steph would have said, then let the Judiciary Committee make that call after hearing her out. That would have been a tough point to rebut for Sanders. Probably she would have fallen back on arguing that time is of the essence: We simply can’t keep delaying indefinitely as people mysteriously recover hazy memories of Kavanaugh being abusive decades ago.
But she didn’t fall back on that argument. She said okay, let’s hear Ramirez out. Now what? If she’s counting on Chuck Grassley to bail out the White House by saying “No way, we’ve waited long enough for Ford already,” that’s a hell of a position to put Grassley in.
Meanwhile, James Roche, Kavanaugh’s roommate at Yale during their freshman year, issued a statement last night saying that while he didn’t witness any incident between him and Ramirez, he does remember Kavanaugh as being aggressive when drunk and thinks he would have been capable of assaulting her the way she described:
“It is from this experience that I concluded that although Brett was normally reserved, he was a notably heavy drinker, even by the standards of the time, and that he became aggressive and belligerent when he was very drunk. I did not observe the specific incident in question, but I do remember Brett frequently drinking excessively and becoming incoherently drunk.
“I became close friends with Debbie Ramirez shortly after we both arrived at Yale. She stood out as being exceptionally honest, with a trusting manner. As we got to know one another, I discovered that Debbie was very worried about fitting in. She felt that everyone at Yale was very rich, very smart and very sophisticated and that as a Puerto Rican woman from a less privileged background she was an outsider. Her response was to try hard to make friends and get along.
“Based on my time with Debbie, I believe her to be unusually honest and straightforward and I cannot imagine her making this up. Based on my time with Brett, I believe that he and his social circle were capable of the actions that Debbie described.
“I think he was capable” does not equal “He did it,” any more than “He was boorish about female acquaintances in his yearbook” equals “He tried to rape Ford.” But they reflect badly on Kavanaugh and naturally feed suspicions about him, just as the many witnesses to his good character that he’s produced helped blunt that suspicion. One thing the Senate GOP’s been adamant about with respect to the Ford hearing is limiting the number of witnesses invited to testify — just Ford and Kavanaugh, with no subpoena for the only person alleged to have witnessed the incident in that case, Mark Judge. Now that Sanders has raised the possibility of including Ramirez, the Committee will face new pressure to expand the witness list to include Roche too. Why didn’t she just punt this question entirely by saying, “It’s up to Chairman Grassley, we trust his judgment?”