As Ed pointed out this morning, Senate Democrats are demanding a revived investigation into Justice Brett Kavanaugh. Yesterday the NY Times published a story about this headlined “Details on F.B.I. Inquiry Into Kavanaugh Draw Fire From Democrats.” The specific detail that was drawing fire was the revelation that the FBI had received 4,500 tips to a tip-line set up to gather more information on Judge Kavanaugh.
Democrats’ response to the FBI stated, “The admissions in your letter corroborate and explain numerous credible accounts by individuals and firms that they had contacted the FBI with information ‘highly relevant to … allegations’ of sexual misconduct by Justice Kavanaugh, only to be ignored.”
And Christine Blasey Ford’s lawyers were even more blunt, claiming the FBI “hid the ball” on those tips.
Attorneys for Christine Blasey Ford: The FBI's Brett Kavanaugh inquiry was "a sham and a major institutional failure."
"Because the FBI and Trump's White House Counsel hid the ball on this, we do not know how many of those 4,500 tips were consequential."
— Kyle Griffin (@kylegriffin1) July 23, 2021
But National Review reports today that this is all nonsense. In fact, Democratic Senators had access to a summary of all 4,500 tips during the confirmation.
Mike Davis, who served as chief counsel for nominations on the Senate Judiciary Committee during the Kavanaugh hearings, tells National Review that there was a summary of all 4,500 tips in the FBI’s report, which was available to all 100 U.S. senators.
“They printed out the entire tip-line summary,” says Davis. “Every senator had full access to read those things if they wanted to.”…
“Every whack-job in the world called into that thing. That’s why there were 4,500 [tips],” says Davis. “Grassley’s team went through the entire tip-line. It was nonsense.” Davis worked under then-chairman Chuck Grassley on the committee and now runs the Article 3 Project, a conservative group that focuses on the judiciary.
A Republican senator who reviewed the FBI’s report confirms Davis’s description of the tip-line summary. “There was nothing in there . . . nothing anywhere providing a shred of corroboration” of an existing allegation or a new allegation, the senator tells National Review.
Kate Kelly, the author of the NY Times piece yesterday, previously spent a year co-writing a book about the Kavanaugh confirmation. That book uncovered one new claim that briefly made news. A 3rd party claimed to have seen Kavanaugh naked at a Yale party and claimed his friends “pushed his penis into the hand of a female student.” The story was excerpted from the book and made a splash when the Times published it back in 2019. But the story left out one critical point contained in the book. That omission is memorialized in an editor’s note that was added a day after the story was published:
An earlier version of this article, which was adapted from a forthcoming book, did not include one element of the book’s account regarding an assertion by a Yale classmate that friends of Brett Kavanaugh pushed his penis into the hand of a female student at a drunken dorm party. The book reports that the female student declined to be interviewed and friends say that she does not recall the incident. That information has been added to the article.
If there were any real bombshells in those 4,500 tips neither the Senate Democrats who had access to them at the time nor the NY Times authors who spent a year researching the story found them.
All of which raises an obvious question: Why are Democrats flogging this 3-year-old story now anyway? According to reporter Kate Kelly, Senators Blumenthal and Whitehouse claim their “trust in the FBI…has really been eroded by this experience.”
I don’t buy that for a second but your mileage may vary. My own take is that both this and the blowup this week over the 1/6 commission are aimed at whipping up excitement from the Democratic base. A Morning Consult poll published Wednesday found that Republican enthusiasm for the midterm elections had caught up to Democratic enthusiasm. In fact, the poll showed Democratic enthusiasm was starting to slip:
According to a new Morning Consult/Politico survey, the share of Democratic voters who said they were “very” or “extremely” enthusiastic about the midterms has fallen 5 percentage points since April, to 48 percent, along with similarly sized drops among Americans who voted for Biden in November.
I’m sure Democrats have their own internal polling showing the same thing and they must be very concerned about it.
Maybe you’ve seen some of the think pieces about how Republicans can’t land a glove on “boring” Joe Biden because he’s too boring to get the GOP base excited. Well, there may be a counterpoint to that story which the media hasn’t picked up on. Boring Joe Biden doesn’t offer much for the far-left to be excited about either. As we head into a midterm election where, historically speaking, Democrats face an uphill battle, that could be a big problem for them. So, all of a sudden, we’re getting a lot of red meat from Democrats in the House and Senate to make up for what they’re not getting from the White House.
Will this amount to anything in Kavanaugh’s case? No, but that’s not the point. Democrats don’t expect anything to come out of this except maybe more talk about packing the court, something that won’t happen but which might get the left worked up for a while. Thanks to a largely compliant media, this attempt to fill the red meat deficit could work, at least in the short term.