It’s smart of McConnell to make Flake, Collins, and Murkowski vote tomorrow to proceed to a final vote on the nomination before pausing the process for the FBI to investigate instead of pausing it right now. That’ll put Kavanaugh right at the doorstep of confirmation, with a single floor vote standing between him and the Court. It’ll add a bit of psychological pressure on the holdouts to say yes next week.
Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh will face a new FBI background investigation before a Senate confirmation vote is held, a key Senator said Friday.
Sen. John Cornyn, R-Texas, said “there’s going to be a supplemental FBI background investigation” of Kavanaugh, who faces several allegations of sexual misconduct, that would not last longer than one week. Cornyn, the majority whip, spoke after he and several other key Senate Republicans met with Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky.
The vote tomorrow was shaping up to be party-line. Now I’m not sure. Will Manchin, Donnelly, and the rest of the Democratic red-staters join with the GOP to proceed on the nomination now that an FBI probe is in the works, to give them some cover? That’s one way for red-state Dems to pander a little to the locals ahead of the final vote. Vote yes tomorrow, at least, as a show of good faith, and then hope that the FBI doesn’t find anything damaging so that you can vote yes next weekend too.
Two questions right now. Will the key witness, Mark Judge, cooperate or will he require a subpoena, which would darken the cloud of suspicion over him and Kavanaugh? His lawyer resolved that today: “If the FBI or any law enforcement agency requests Mr. Judge’s cooperation, he will answer any and all questions posed to him.” He’s the main figure in both the Christine Ford and Julie Swetnick allegations; if he’s believable, there won’t be much left of the former’s claim and not much of the latter’s unless Avenatti can produce witnesses to the, uh, “rape parties.”
The other question: Can the FBI get this done in a week? Likely answer: They’re going to have to, aren’t they?
When asked if they could get the investigation done in a week a Senior FBI official told Fox, "That depends on the schedules of everyone we'd have to interview," including the accuser, accused and witnesses. https://t.co/vEqYlWTlW8
— Pat Ward (@WardDPatrick) September 28, 2018
Without doubt, even a week of interviews will leave some questions unanswered, which will lead to inevitable cries for an extended probe from progressive panderers in the Senate. Their votes were always ungettable, though. The interviews may answer enough questions to bring (some) red-state Democrats into the fold next week, which will give Kavanaugh bipartisan cred in joining the Court. That’ll be useful in beating back Democratic attacks on his legitimacy in the years to come — as of course will the fact that their core demand, a new FBI background check, was ultimately met.
An interesting point from Ross Douthat:
This is an important dynamic here and has been from the start. A clutch of Republican Senators really, really want to vote for Kavanaugh so as not to have to vote Barrett or anyone else. https://t.co/0uzYxBVfsp
— Ross Douthat (@DouthatNYT) September 28, 2018
My hunch on why Barrett wasn’t nominated is that she was a bit too true-blue pro-life for Collins’s and Murkowski’s comfort. They probably lobbied Trump for Kavanaugh thinking that a Bush-approved establishmentarian might be more likely to find a compromise position on abortion while on the Court. If they bork him, they’re right back to Barrett or someone similarly conservative. The least Trump can do to soothe Republican voters if Kavanaugh ends up going down is to stick it to Democrats with an even more right-wing nominee. For Collins et al., Kavanaugh might be as “centrist” as it gets. And they know it.
Here’s Graham, preparing to raise hell if the one-week timeline starts to slip.
I asked Lindsey Graham what happens if the FBI is not done with an investigation into Kavanaugh allegations within a week. "A week is enough time for (Flake), maybe less … We're not playing this game of opening this up and it goes on forever." pic.twitter.com/vSKJR6Qgpl
— Manu Raju (@mkraju) September 28, 2018
I'm halfway inclined to argue this is a win-win for McConnell.
If FBI says no corroboration, a "yes" vote is easier and less costly politically.
If FBI finds corroboration, the evidence probably would have come out in some other way post-confirmation, creating a nightmare. https://t.co/e3f5RUCrtJ
— Nate Silver (@NateSilver538) September 28, 2018
The problem with that analysis from the standpoint of many Republicans is the second prong: So what if evidence of wrongdoing came out after he’d been confirmed? It’s unlikely that Democrats would ever get 67 votes to remove him absent smoking-gun proof of sexual misconduct, which is all but impossible. This is raw power politics. Just put him on the bench, probable sex criminal or not. Besides, we’re bulletproof in elections with Trump leading the way!