We’re 24 hours away here, buddy. Make a decision.
Unless, of course, the uncertainty is a deliberate strategy aimed at forcing another delay in the confirmation process.
Why don’t Ramirez and her lawyer, John Clune, already have a position about whether she will or won’t testify? The New Yorker story is only three days old but it must have been apparent to her from the moment she started talking to Ronan Farrow and Jane Mayer last week where this was headed. The Committee would invite her to testify but wouldn’t agree to postpone the hearing while an FBI probe plays out, consistent with their treatment of Christine Blasey Ford. Clune’s insistence on an FBI investigation which he knows he won’t get smells like either a delay tactic or a check-the-box thing to make sure Ramirez, the supposedly nonpartisan accuser, is pushing the same message that Democrats are.
“Will she [Ramirez] testify even if there isn’t the [FBI] investigation she would prefer?” –@savannahguthrie
“That’s a decision I’ll certainly let her make…but it wouldn’t surprise me if she would agree to do that.” -Attorney for Kavanaugh accuser Deborah Ramirez pic.twitter.com/tRa1IUbTnn
— TODAY (@TODAYshow) September 26, 2018
Sounds to me like we’re going to have a late addition to the witness roster tomorrow. That’s all kinds of risky for both sides: If Ford is convincing but Ramirez is not, the latter’s shakiness may help shield Kavanaugh a bit from the damage inflicted by the former. If both are convincing, Kavanaugh’s in trouble.
Clune claimed to Anderson Cooper last night that the majority party had been playing “games” with him over the last few days about Ramirez’s testimony. Take two minutes to read this Twitter threat by WSJ columnist Kimberley Strassel and consider which side is playing games. Strassel says she’s seen the emails between Grassley’s staff and Ramirez’s lawyers and counts no fewer than six invitations from Republicans in the span of 48 hours for Ramirez to provide some sort of statement to the Committee about what Kavanaugh allegedly did to her, to get the ball rolling on possible testimony. Somehow her legal team managed to duck all six requests, at one point reportedly telling Republicans to read the New Yorker story if they want her statement. If Ramirez wants to testify, why not just submit a statement on Monday? If she doesn’t want to testify, why not just say that?
Possible answer: She doesn’t want to testify but also doesn’t want to be blamed for refusing to do so. The New Yorker story itself makes clear how shaky her grip is on her own memory. If she goes before the Committee and claims certainty now, she’ll be asked, “How can you be certain today when you were uncertain three days ago?” Whereas if she reiterates her uncertainty, she’ll be asked, “How can we trust an accusation if the accuser is admittedly uncertain?” There’s no good evidentiary outcome for Democrats from Ramirez testifying. (If she’s emotional and shows that *she* believes her own story — this entire spectacle is theater at bottom — then there might be a good political outcome for them.) Either way, if Ramirez is (understandably) reluctant to testify but doesn’t want to disappoint all of the liberals counting on her to nuke Kavanaugh for them, the shrewd way out of this mess would be to remain coy and uncooperative during negotiations with Republicans and then wait for them to declare that it’s too late for her to testify. Then she gets a pass on the hearing *and* gets to blame the mean right-wingers for not letting her speak.
Which, coincidentally, is exactly the path her lawyers seem to have followed the last few days.
I think she will ultimately agree to testify, though, if Democrats want her to. Like I said yesterday, that’s a difficult calculation for them. Their optimal result with Ramirez, given how dubious her allegation is, is probably not to have her testify but to have Republicans blamed somehow for her inability to do so. The fact that Clune is holding open the possibility that she might show up rather than foreclosing it and saying it’s all Grassley’s fault suggests that Dems think they’re better off with two accusers at the hearing than one.