Who could have seen this coming? Even as Republicans seem ready to accept what Democrats demanded all day yesterday, you can already hear the sound of goalposts being dragged further down the field. Here’s the statement:
Statement by Debra Katz, one of Dr. Christine Blasey Ford’s attorneys. pic.twitter.com/pUurhtgtUd
— Yashar Ali 🐘 (@yashar) September 28, 2018
Charles Cooke pretty much summed up my reaction:
Gosh, nobody could see that coming. https://t.co/gGrEmHrV1R
— Charles C. W. Cooke (@charlescwcooke) September 28, 2018
The key point is that last line in Katz’ statement: “No artificial limits as to time or scope should be imposed on this investigation.” In other words, let’s start negotiating the next delay in this process right now. But it’s more than that. Fox News’ Ed Henry points out that the reference to scope means Katz doesn’t want this limited to an investigation of Ford’s claims. She wants the claims by Deborah Ramirez and Julie Swetnick to be part of this too.
"Dr. Ford's team is saying 'no' to a one-week deadline, as the president has ordered, and Senator Flake and others have promised to, and they're also saying no limit on scope." — @edhenry reports on the Judge Kavanaugh Supreme Court nomination #TheFive https://t.co/zmDxBlM8BQ pic.twitter.com/9sUEyYr8rX
— Fox News (@FoxNews) September 28, 2018
The statement from Debra Kats is a direct response to a statement released by the White House earlier today. From Fox News:
President Trump on Friday ordered the FBI to conduct a limited “supplemental” background investigation into the allegations of sexual assault against Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh, as Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said Republicans are moving “forward” with plans to vote on the nomination in the coming days.
“I’ve ordered the FBI to conduct a supplemental investigation to update Judge Kavanaugh’s file,” Trump said in a statement. “As the Senate has requested, this update must be limited in scope and completed in less than one week.”…
When asked if they could get the investigation done in a week, a senior FBI official told Fox News, “That depends on the schedules of everyone we’d have to interview, including the accuser, accused and witnesses.”
The White House wants this limited in scope and completed in a week and the FBI can probably do that, so of course, Ford’s attorney says she wants no limits in scope or duration. The next question is what happens if the White House refuses to back down on this point? This isn’t a criminal investigation so Blasey Ford could conceivably refuse to cooperate unless Democrats get their way. If she simply says her schedule won’t allow her to participate next week, she could conceivably drag this out even without a formal agreement to extend the deadline.
On the other hand, if Republicans agree to this demand that would presumably mean that any more allegations that pop up, say, next Thursday evening, would also need to be part of this open-ended FBI investigation. If Republicans agree to this, Democrats will have all the leeway they need to kick this ball well beyond the election. That’s clearly where all the moving goalposts are ultimately headed.
I’d like to think that somewhere Jeff Flake is looking at this fresh demand letter and shaking his head saying ‘What have I done?’ but I suspect that’s not the case.