Everyone’s high-fiving over Flake’s yes vote this morning, understandably, but I’d be cautious about assuming that that means Collins and Murkowski are in the bag too. They have until the final vote on Monday to decide for sure, which is a lot of time given the pace of Kavanaugh news over the last two weeks. There’s a gut-check vote tomorrow too on whether to proceed to the final vote but I think the two of them might end up voting “yes, but” on that. Yes, they’ll give McConnell 50 votes so that Monday’s confirmation vote remains on schedule, but they’re still undecided on whether to ultimately vote for confirmation or not.
Which means it’ll be a long weekend of deliberation for both.
Which also means that any new material on Kavanaugh that emerges this weekend might knock the whole train off the rails. And Avenatti knows it.
Because @realDonaldTrump and the Senate Republicans refuse to allow my client Julie Swetnick to testify, we will be taking her story directly to the American people this weekend. This is about a search for the truth. Details to follow.
— Michael Avenatti (@MichaelAvenatti) September 28, 2018
The guy is nothing if not media-savvy. Chances are that the interview with Swetnick will make her seem credible and compelling, by design. There’s a chance too that he’ll trot out some of those witnesses whom Swetnick claimed in her affidavit can support her account. If that happens, how do Collins and Murkowski vote to confirm before the Committee (or the FBI) has interviewed Swetnick? Would you bet on their resolve under that sort of pressure?
Megan McArdle is searching for a compromise:
I pause to implore GOP not to confirm Kavanaugh this way. It can only end in something worse to the disgraceful circus we've just endured. And to implore Democrats to offer some sort of olive branch compromise that might let them agree to a reasonably time-limited investigation.
— Megan McArdle (@asymmetricinfo) September 28, 2018
Ross Douthat agrees:
The sworn statements from [Judge] and from the other boy named, P.J. Smyth, are obviously insufficient given the stakes here. They should be asked under oath if they knew Blasey, if they ever attended parties with her — a whole litany of obvious questions. And the fact that both of their names appeared on the calendar that Kavanaugh offered up in his defense, listed as attendees at precisely the kind of weeknight drinking party that he suggested was vanishingly rare, seems like another useful area of inquiry — one, again, that the cross-examiner (God bless her!) pursued a little before Senate Republicans decided that the time for grandstanding had arrived.
Oh, and another name on the list of that weeknight party’s attendees was “Squi,” which was apparently the nickname of the boy that Blasey was dating and who introduced her to Kavanaugh … thus linking the different areas of inquiry together, and giving another reason it would be extremely interesting to hear from him, the whole story’s missing link.
Collins and Murky might go for that. Dems agree to a final confirmation vote a week from now, let’s say, with no further delays for late-arriving accusers. Republicans agree to let the FBI talk to Mark Judge, Swetnick, “Squi,” and other relevant witnesses. (Judge offered to participate in a “confidential, fact-finding investigation” in a statement last night, in fact.) Let the chips fall where they may on those interviews, then vote.
If that doesn’t happen and Kavanaugh is confirmed? Then the Kavanaugh crisis will carry on into 2019 at least:
In a foreshadowing of how much uglier U.S. politics could get, top Democratic operatives are already talking about impeachment of Brett Kavanaugh as a 2020 campaign issue if he gets confirmed to the Supreme Court.
A well-known Democratic strategist says the “only question is who calls for it first.”…
If Kavanaugh is confirmed, Democrats could be expected to question the legitimacy of his swing Supreme Court vote. Congress degraded itself yesterday. And the Trump White House of course has serious credibility issues.
So the United States of America will be three-for-three in diminished trust in its branches of government.
Here’s the likeliest outcome as of 11 a.m. on 9/28/2018: Kavanaugh is confirmed without any FBI interviews. Democrats retake the House. The House Judiciary Committee opens an investigation into Kavanaugh next year, with the Ford, Swetnick, and maybe Ramirez accusations front and center. Mark Judge is subpoenaed — and promptly takes the Fifth, leaving the public to wonder precisely what sort of crimes Justice Kavanaugh’s buddy might have information about and who else might have participated in them.
And although impeachment and removal is a very long shot, it’s not quite a no-shot:
Ramming Kavanaugh through now is a bet, a dangerous one, that an aggressive Democratic investigation won't find turn up anything meaningful.
— Brandt (@UrbanAchievr) September 28, 2018
It’s pointless to debate this, though. (It’s pointless to debate anything in politics anymore, really.) The Kavanaugh confirmation vote is now a partisan litmus test almost as pure as abortion or gun rights. Do you think Senate Democrats are sleazebags who hugely damaged the Committee’s credibility in how they handled Ford’s accusation? Yes. Do you think Avenatti is an exotic rodent who somehow gained the power to speak and that Swetnick’s claims are ludicrous hype on the order of accusing Kavanaugh of membership in a Satanic cult? Yes, and almost certainly. Then the vote must be held now. The truth of Kavanaugh’s guilt or innocence is secondary at this point, as is public respect for the Court. Top priority is rebuking sleazy Democrats and their sleazy allies. …Okay?
Watch below and you’ll see Graham smartly making the point at this morning’s hearing that, based on the evidence the Committee has, Ford’s claim wouldn’t “get out of the batter’s box” in the criminal justice system. That’s true — Rachel Mitchell, the prosecutor who questioned Ford yesterday at the hearing, affirmed it in a meeting with Republicans last night. How would any indictment issue in a case where the accuser can’t remember the date or place of the assault, told no one that it happened, has no physical evidence, and three people whom she says were there all have no memory of any such event? You couldn’t get a warrant based on that. But this is where Democrats — and maybe Collins and Murkowski — would chime in and say, “Right, that’s why we have police to investigate and interview witnesses after the initial accusation.” They might in fact end up saying that, Flake’s support for Kavanaugh notwithstanding. Stay tuned. Exit quotation from Douthat: “I am more convinced than ever that somebody knows something that could prevent this from metastasizing into our era’s Dreyfus Affair — a source of unresolved hatreds for years and decades yet to come.”
Sen Graham on Sen. Flake's support of Judge Kavanaugh:
"He has wrestled with this. He is trying to be fair. I cannot tell you what happened 35 years ago, I can tell you this: Through any legal system this would not get out of the batters box." pic.twitter.com/3kwhT0sgGd
— NBC Politics (@NBCPolitics) September 28, 2018