Politico: Senate Dems still gearing up to smear Kavanaugh over Kozinski

Senate Democrats are about out of plays to meet their pledge to defeat Brett Kavanaugh’s confirmation to the Supreme Court. Rand Paul has openly pledged to support his confirmation, and both Susan Collins and Lisa Murkowski have offered public praise for Kavanaugh over the last few weeks. In their desperation, Politico reports that they’re going full steam ahead on a strategy to smear Kavanaugh by association:

Senate Democrats are gearing up to press Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh on his decades-long relationship with former Judge Alex Kozinski, who was forced into retirement last year by a mounting sexual harassment scandal.

It’s not just what, if anything, Kavanaugh saw during his time as a Kozinski clerk in the early 1990s that’s on Democratic minds. They also want to know how President Donald Trump’s high court pick would address the judiciary’s ongoing internal reckoning with sexual misconduct that was sparked by Kozinski — one of Kavanaugh’s early mentors who introduced the younger appellate court judge at his Senate confirmation hearing in 2006. …

“Given Judge Kavanaugh’s close relationship with former Judge Alex Kozinski, the subject of numerous harassment complaints, we need to know what Judge Kavanaugh knew and his views on this serious problem,” added Hirono, who sits on the Judiciary Committee and will have a chance to directly question Kavanaugh at hearings planned for next month. …

“By their own telling, Judge Kozinski and Brett Kavanaugh have a close relationship,” Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) said through a spokeswoman, noting that the two worked together on a panel that screened prospective clerks for Kennedy. One of Kozinski’s sons also clerked for Kavanaugh.

“The allegations against Judge Kozinski that led to his resignation were extremely disturbing,” added Feinstein, the top Democrat on the Judiciary Committee. “I’ve seen press reports that many of his clerks knew of his behavior and that he maintained an email list where he would distribute offensive material. Given all this, there are questions about whether Kavanaugh was aware of this behavior.”

And what is the basis for this demand for a public accounting? “Press reports” that “many of his clerks” knew of the behavior. That may have been true when the behavior was occurring, or it may not have been true. However, as McClatchy noted when this first got raised a month ago, there isn’t any evidence it took place during Kavanaugh’s tenure. It’s a fishing expedition, nothing more.

Don’t bother asking how this will convince Republicans to flip and vote against Kavanaugh, because that’s not the intent of this line of questioning. This isn’t a strategy to defeat Kavanaugh; it’s a strategy to damage him as much as possible for the rest of his career. Never mind that Kavanaugh hired more female clerks than males, and never mind that all of those who are able to declare a public endorsement have done so. Senate Democrats want to paint him as a secret harassment enabler, even while having absolutely no evidence whatsoever that Kavanaugh knew of Kozinski’s actions — or even whether Kozinski harassed any women while Kavanaugh worked in his office as a clerk.

It’s a dog-in-the-manger strategy, nothing more, borne out of frustration over the impotence of their current position. They largely created that impotence themselves, with “nuclear” rule changes and years-long blockades on judicial nominations, including Kavanaugh himself for nearly three years. They made themselves irrelevant, and this is nothing more than a desperate attempt at creating the appearance of relevancy at the expense of a jurist with an impeccable reputation.

Here’s a question for those who want to question Kavanaugh over Kozinski: How many of them have voted to make public the Senate’s payments for sexual harassment complaints? The House made their payments public, at least in general terms, but the Senate refuses to do so even after a public demand by Sen. Tim Kaine (D-VA). If the standard of guilt-by-association is applicable to one branch of the government, then it’s applicable to Congress, too. It’d be very instructive to see whether any of those pushing this line of attack on Kavanaugh have cost the taxpayers any money for settling complaints originating out of their own offices.