Pres­i­den­tial hope­fuls kow­tow to Ka­vanaugh ac­cuser

The Washington Times Weekly - - Politics - BY SETH MCLAUGH­LIN

Sen. Kirsten Gil­li­brand claimed a prom­i­nent seat in the au­di­ence dur­ing Thurs­day’s Se­nate Ju­di­ciary Com­mit­tee hear­ing and rushed to the cam­eras after­ward to pro­claim her sup­port for Chris­tine Blasey Ford, the wo­man who has ac­cused Supreme Court nom­i­nee Brett M. Ka­vanaugh of sex­ual as­sault when they were in high school.

As one of the Democrats eye­ing a 2020 pres­i­den­tial bid, Ms. Gil­li­brand has gone all in be­hind Ms. Blasey Ford, declar­ing her a hero to the coun­try and brook­ing no re­sis­tance from those who ques­tioned her un­cor­rob­o­rated ac­count.

“I don’t know how they could hear her tes­ti­mony and watch her tes­tify so au­then­ti­cally, so hon­estly from the heart and not be­lieve her and still vote for Brett Ka­vanaugh. I just don’t un­der­stand how they could do it,” Ms. Gil­li­brand said dur­ing a break from the hear­ing, where she sat be­tween ac­tress Alyssa Mi­lano and Rep. Carolyn B. Maloney, a fel­low New York Demo­crat.

Ms. Gil­li­brand didn’t stick around for Mr. Ka­vanaugh’s tes­ti­mony.

Other 2020 Democrats also rushed to grab the po­lit­i­cal coat­tails of Ms. Blasey Ford, whose pow­er­ful tes­ti­mony threat­ened to up­end Judge Ka­vanaugh’s nom­i­na­tion.

Sen. Jeff Merkley of Ore­gon crowed to ac­tivists at the Capi­tol about the law­suit he filed this week ac­cus­ing the White House of with­hold­ing Ka­vanaugh-re­lated doc­u­ments. His law­suit asks a judge to ban the Se­nate from vot­ing un­til mil­lions more pages are re­vealed.

“Re­ally what is go­ing on here is a bat­tle be­tween gov­ern­ment by and for the pow­er­ful, the 1 per­cent, which is ev­ery­thing Ka­vanaugh rep­re­sents, and gov­ern­ment by and for the peo­ple — for the con­sumers, for the work­ers and for the women of Amer­ica,” Mr. Merkley said.

Inside the hear­ing room, Sen. Cory A. Booker of New Jersey, yet an­other 2020 Demo­cratic hope­ful, played the role of barista, rac­ing in with a cup of cof­fee for Ms. Blasey Ford af­ter she said she could use some caf­feine at the be­gin­ning of the affair. Later dur­ing his ques­tion­ing, he thanked her for her “courage and brav­ery in com­ing for­ward.”

Michael Ave­natti, the at­tor­ney for an­other Ka­vanaugh ac­cuser, cheered on Ms. Blasey Ford from the Twit­ter­verse.

“I have wit­nessed well over 500 wit­nesses tes­tify in court and in de­po­si­tion over the course of my ca­reer. There is no ques­tion that Dr. Ford is cred­i­ble,” Mr. Ave­natti said be­fore turn­ing his fire on Judge Ka­vanaugh.

“This nom­i­na­tion must be with­drawn im­me­di­ately and an hon­est, moral in­di­vid­ual should be nom­i­nated. Amer­ica de­serves bet­ter,” he tweeted.

The Ka­vanaugh saga has be­come a mar­quee mo­ment in the #MeToo move­ment against sex­ual mis­con­duct that has swal­lowed up pow­er­ful fig­ures in Hol­ly­wood, the press and law­mak­ers on Capi­tol Hill.

For lib­eral ac­tivists, it has taken re­flex­ive hate for Pres­i­dent Trump to a new level, an­ger­ing Repub­li­cans who say their be­hav­ior has gone off the rails.

“What you want to do is de­stroy this guy’s life, hold this seat open and hope you win in 2020,” said Sen. Lind­sey Gra­ham, South Carolina Repub­li­can, slam­ming his Demo­cratic col­leagues on the panel. “This is the most un­eth­i­cal sham since I have been in pol­i­tics.”

Hank Sheinkopf, a Demo­cratic strate­gist, said the re­ward of fully em­brac­ing Ms. Blasey Ford out­weighs the risk for Democrats with pres­i­den­tial as­pi­ra­tions. He noted the surge of women be­com­ing en­gaged in pol­i­tics

“This re­ally may rep­re­sent the end of white male dom­i­nance in pol­i­tics,” Mr. Sheinkopf said. “So they are in the right mo­ment, in the right time, with the right mes­sage.”

Jeanne Zaino, po­lit­i­cal science pro­fes­sor at Iona Col­lege, said the Democrats have made a cal­cu­la­tion that the po­lit­i­cal en­ergy of the party is on the left and they are try­ing to get a jump on it.

“But they have to be very care­ful that they don’t alien­ate the more mod­er­ate mem­bers of the party who have a very dif­fer­ent view of what is go­ing on,” Ms. Zaino said. “I think what we are see­ing here is they are putting their short-term elec­toral gains ahead of what may po­ten­tially be in the best in­ter­est of the coun­try and of the party down the road.”

Ms. Zaino pointed out that the Democrats’ 2013 de­ci­sion to re­sort to the “nu­clear op­tion,” which elim­i­nated the 60-vote rule on most pres­i­den­tial nom­i­na­tions, has come back to haunt them as they try to block Mr. Trump’s nom­i­nees.

Those kinds of con­cerns have fallen by the way­side dur­ing the Ka­vanaugh hear­ings. Democrats an­nounced well be­fore they heard from ei­ther prin­ci­pal that they be­lieved Ms. Blasey Ford and thought Judge Ka­vanaugh was a crim­i­nal.

Sen. Elizabeth Warren, an­other 2020 hope­ful, blasted out a pe­ti­tion prior to Thurs­day’s hear­ing call­ing the con­fir­ma­tion process a “cha­rade” and say­ing it is “re­volt­ing” that Repub­li­cans are try­ing to ram through Judge Ka­vanaugh’s nom­i­na­tion with­out a deeper dive into his record and the al­le­ga­tions against him.

“To­day Dr. Ford will make her voice heard, but ev­ery­one must speak out: De­mand Brett Ka­vanaugh with­draw his nom­i­na­tion,” said Ms. Warren, re­in­forc­ing the mes­sage later in the day.

“She has cer­tainly made clear that what she is say­ing is truth­ful and from the heart,” the Mas­sachusetts Demo­crat said.

“This re­ally may rep­re­sent the end of white male dom­i­nance in pol­i­tics. So they are in the right mo­ment, in the right time, with the right mes­sage.” — Hank Sheinkopf, Demo­cratic strate­gist

ASSOCIATED PRESS

Sen. Cory A. Booker of New Jersey and Sen. Ka­mala D. Har­ris of Cal­i­for­nia made it clear Thurs­day that they were sup­port­ing Chris­tine Blasey Ford. Both of the Se­nate Ju­di­ciary Com­mit­tee mem­bers are con­sid­er­ing Demo­cratic pres­i­den­tial runs in 2020.

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