Cokie Roberts to Ford: Put up or ...

Give ABC’s Cokie Roberts a lot of credit for this blast of common sense, one for which she will undoubtedly come under withering criticism for not being sensitive enough to an alleged survivor. Roberts, however, does show sympathy for a woman who launches herself into the public sphere, taking care to acknowledge the threats and abuse that have followed Christine Blasey Ford’s decision to go public. But what purpose did that serve, Roberts wonders in her column at ABC News, if Ford won’t testify to back up her allegations?


Roberts wonders whether Ford’s sincere, or just “playing footsie with Democrats,” but says there’s one sure way to find out:

Christine Blasey Ford has either developed a case of cold feet or she’s playing footsie with the Democrats. Neither one of those options is useful if she wants to stop Brett Kavanaugh’s confirmation to the Supreme Court.

It would certainly be understandable if Ford decided not to go through the brutal spectacle of a committee hearing. Since she’s told her story, she and her family say they have been subjected to what must be terrifying insults and threats. …

But she made the choice to reveal her identity, knowing that it would upend her life. Now, she needs to tell her story to the people who will decide whether Brett Kavanaugh ascends to the Supreme Court — the members of the United States Senate. Absent that, she has put herself and her family in harm’s way to no end.

Note well that Roberts implicitly rejects the demand from Ford and her legal team for an FBI investigation first. If she wants to “stop Brett Kavanaugh’s confirmation,” she’ll need to convince the senators who will vote on that issue.

Roberts has a few choice words for Senate Democrats, too, who seem less interested in supporting Ford than in tearing down Kavanaugh. Roberts accuses them of playing out the string in an attempt to get Donald Trump and Republicans to shoot themselves in the foot politically, which … has nothing to do with Kavanaugh’s fitness for office at all. Get ready for some serious backfire, she warns, when that strategy fails:


But so far, they and the White House have, by and large, played it smart. They have repeatedly stated that Ford be respected and heard. They have focused their fire on Democrats — not her. And as the week has progressed, and no other woman or fellow high-school partygoer has come forward, they have renewed their support for Kavanaugh, who has unblinkingly denied the allegations.

If Ford took this life-altering step because she believes that Brett Kavanaugh should not serve on the Supreme Court, then she must come forward to tell that to the Senate.

If not, Roberts says, get ready to say “Justice Kavanaugh” and become irrelevant. And the case is even less promising as Roberts suggests. Not only has no contemporaneous corroboration emerged (except for a Facebook troll), and no other accusations have emerged, two of the three witnesses Ford named have both said the incident never happened and that Kavanaugh never acted badly toward women in their presence. Literally the only thing this allegation has is Ford’s testimony, which lacks important facts such as the date and place of the alleged assault. If Ford won’t provide that testimony under penalty of perjury, then there is nothing to consider.

So will Ford agree to submit testimony under those conditions? A source on Capitol Hill tells CNN that she still might, but that she’s trying to “buy … time”:

One congressional source with knowledge of the hearing negotiations says that they don’t believe Ford has closed the door entirely on testifying.

This source says they have interpreted all the back and forth over the last 48 hours as evidence that Dr. Ford simply hasn’t decided or has shown signs of cold feet — but hasn’t closed the door entirely.

They believe that her legal team is just trying to buy her time as she grapples with the decision whether she wants to testify or not.


This is the decision for which Roberts has lost patience. She came forward in July, met with her Congresswoman, took a lie detector in August, and made her accusation public on Sunday. If she wasn’t going to submit those claims to scrutiny in the proper forum – the Senate Judiciary Committee — then why tell the story at all? As Roberts hints, it’s time to put up or shut up.

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