Judiciary Committee Democrats to Trump: Open an FBI investigation or withdraw Kavanaugh's nomination

In the wake of the new allegations made by Julie Swetnick, Democrats on the Senate Judiciary Committee have banded together to call for the withdrawal of Kavanaugh’s nomination or the opening of an FBI investigation. Their letter, directed to President Trump, quotes from the affidavit released earlier today by Michael Avenatti:

Dear Mr. President:

We are writing to request that you immediately withdraw the nomination of Brett Kavanaugh to be an Associate Justice on the Supreme Court or direct the FBI to re-open its background investigation and thoroughly examine the multiple allegations of sexual assault.

As you know, earlier this month, Christine Blasey Ford’s credible and serious allegations of sexual assault by Judge Kavanaugh were referred to the FBI for investigation. Since then, Deborah Ramirez has come forward with additional allegations of sexual misconduct and today, another woman, Julie Swetnick, has submitted a sworn affidavit to the Senate Judiciary Committee recounting Brett Kavanaugh drinking excessively at parties and engaging “in abusive and physically aggressive behavior toward girls, including pressing girls against him without their consent, ‘grinding’ against girls, and attempting to remove or shift girls’ clothing to expose private body parts.”

It is clear from reporting that there were others present or with knowledge of each of these shocking allegations who also should be interviewed. We have repeatedly asked Chairman Grassley and you to direct the FBI to investigate Dr. Ford’s and Ms. Ramirez’s allegations.

The serious and credible allegations of one woman should have been enough to require a complete investigation by the FBI. It should not have required multiple women with consistent accounts of serious sexual misconduct by Judge Kavanaugh to trigger a meaningful nonpartisan investigation.

Judge Kavanaugh is being considered for a promotion. He is asking for a lifetime appointment to the nation’s highest court where he will have the opportunity to rule on matters that will impact Americans for decades. The standard of character and fitness for a position on the nation’s highest court must be higher than this. Judge Kavanaugh has staunchly declared his respect for women and issued blanket denials of any possible misconduct, but those declarations are in serious doubt.

We therefore ask that you immediately direct an FBI investigation or withdraw this nomination.

A few points about this. First, this is clearly timed to the release of the Swetnick affidavit but it leaves out the most extreme allegations. There is no mention of the allegation of gang rape at these parties or the claim that Kavanaugh was involved in this behavior. Why would Democrats leave that out and focus instead on the less shocking claims in the affidavit?

Second, Avenatti claims he can provide witnesses who will back up Swetnick’s claims, but he hasn’t done so yet. So, at least for the moment, we have another set of accusations which many other people ought to be able to confirm but which no one has confirmed. That’s been a pattern for all of these allegations. No one remembers the party Dr. Ford claims she attended with Kavanaugh. And no one could verify Deborah Ramirez’ claims about a party she attended at Yale except one person who says he heard about it second hand in the dorms (but who wasn’t there).

Third, as Joe Biden once said, the FBI does not draw conclusions. An FBI investigation is not going to settle disputed claims from 36 years ago. This is a he said, she said situation. At some point, the Senators have to form their own opinions about who is telling the truth.

Fourth, what happened to giving Christine Blasey Ford a chance to speak? If Kavanaugh’s denials “are in serious doubt” why not let the process play out one more day and hear from him about this? Ford’s testimony under oath is already scheduled as is Kavanaugh’s. Why demand the nominee be withdrawn, or a new investigation started, before we hear from either of them?

Of course, now that Deborah Ramirez says she might be willing to testify (as I predicted she would announce at the last minute), it’s possible this may drag on beyond this week. But withdrawing the nominee won’t resolve these claims, it just hands Democrats a political win without resolving them. And again, those answers aren’t going to magically come from the FBI. The only option at this point is to put people under oath and ask them questions to judge their veracity, side by side. That’s what we’re doing tomorrow. Democrats should stick with that plan and stop trying to short-circuit it.