We know the scope of the FBI investigation. Now what?

Last night John looked at what we should expect from the “expanded” FBI investigation into Christine Blasey Ford’s allegations against Brett Kavanaugh. (Shorter version: not much.) But just how “expanded” is it going to be? We’re once again getting two very different stories from the White House and the media. The usual “anonymous sources” from inside the administration were saying that President Trump was forbidding any investigation into the claims made by Michael Avenatti’s client, Julie Swetnick. Trump, on the other hand, was on the stage last night saying that it was open season for the FBI and they can talk to whomever they like. But it all needs to be wrapped up by the end of the week. (NBC News)

“I want them to interview whoever they deem appropriate, at their discretion,” Trump tweeted in response to an NBC News report citing multiple people familiar with the process who said the White House was limiting the scope of the reopened background investigation of Kavanaugh.

While the FBI will examine the allegations of Christine Blasey Ford and Deborah Ramirez, the bureau had not been permitted to investigate the claims of Julie Swetnick, who has accused Kavanaugh of engaging in sexual misconduct at parties while he was a student at Georgetown Preparatory School in the 1980s, those people familiar with the investigation told NBC News.

We should be clear that the FBI is yet again engaged in a task which is not a criminal investigation. It’s an expanded background check. In that context, and particularly given the brief turnaround time, some measure of common sense has to be employed. Given limited resources, are you going to channel your efforts into claims made by the next celebrity client of a lawyer who would probably have displaced P.T. Barnum if he’d been born a few generations sooner? Or will you go after the alleged meat behind the claims of Ford and, to a lesser degree, Ramirez?

Keep in mind that Ford’s performance during her testimony is what’s driving this. The story from Ramirez is a bit more bizarre, but at least it supposedly took place in the same neck of the woods during a time period when it’s plausible that Kavanaugh might have been present. (Neither tale has thus far been corroborated by anyone.) But Swetnick’s claims require us to believe that a 15-year-old prep school nerd Brett Kavanaugh was the mastermind and ringleader of a roving band of human traffickers, gang rapists, rum runners, and thugs.

For better or worse, we need to get through this investigation and move forward as indicated. If the FBI somehow comes up with something solid, perhaps the nomination is doomed. But as John wrote last night, the odds of anything solid existing are slim to none. At most, the agents will take statements from various people, perhaps finding someone to claim that the judge did this or that, up to and including sending people up in flying saucers and turn those statements over to the Judiciary Committee and we’ll be right back where we started.

At that point, it will be time to move to the vote despite the fact that the endless screaming and foot-stamping of Democrats and the media will not be allayed by anything the FBI says. Matthew Continetti at the Free Beacon notes that we must insist the Senate get it over with and call the roll. And for good reason. (Emphasis added)

The public deserves to know the Senate’s position on the following question: Are uncorroborated allegations, sometimes made anonymously, from high school and college enough to disqualify men and women from appointed office? Are we prepared to establish a standard by which appointees are judged by comments in a high school yearbook, statements from classmates 30 or 35 years ago, and attendance at student parties where alcohol was consumed?

If we are to go down this road, then we should know where each of the 100 men and women elected to the United States Senate, including Susan Collins, Lisa Murkowski, and Jeff Flake, stand at the outset. How else will we be able to apportion blame when the three Furies arrive? Because they are on their way.

Continetti is correct. Further delay is unacceptable and only provides the political actors seeking Kavanaugh’s destruction more time to build their case. Assuming that the pollsters and pundits are correct and GOP control of the Senate after the midterms is not a sure thing, this confirmation vote may very well turn out to be one of the most decisive, impactful, and historically significant moments for conservatives in a generation. Whether it succeeds or fails, there must be a record of the yeas and nays, and each current member of the Senate must leave their name on the register as to how they act on that day.

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