Fight con­tin­ues over Ka­vanaugh

The Reporter (Lansdale, PA) - - OPINION - By­ron York By­ron York Colum­nist

Jus­tice Brett Ka­vanaugh is on the Supreme Court, but the fight over his nom­i­na­tion goes on.

The battle is not be­ing fought by Demo­cratic dead-en­ders who can­not ac­cept that Ka­vanaugh won con­fir­ma­tion de­spite the sex­ual mis­con­duct al­le­ga­tions against him. In­stead, the fight is be­ing led by Sen. Charles Grass­ley, the Repub­li­can chair­man of the Se­nate Ju­di­ciary Com­mit­tee, who is still angry at the way those un­ver­i­fied and, in some cases, ev­i­dence-free al­le­ga­tions side­tracked his com­mit­tee’s work, and nearly the nom­i­na­tion it­self.

Grass­ley’s un­hap­pi­ness comes through in ev­ery page of a new 28-page re­port, ac­com­pa­nied by 386 pages of sup­port­ing doc­u­ments, out­lin­ing the com­mit­tee’s han­dling of the Ka­vanaugh case. One key point that comes out in the re­port is that Grass­ley and his staff of in­ves­ti­ga­tors on the Repub­li­can side took each al­le­ga­tion against Ka­vanaugh se­ri­ously, no mat­ter how far­fetched. That’s how the con­fir­ma­tion process al­most ground to a halt.

The al­le­ga­tions cov­ered in the re­port start with Chris­tine Blasey Ford, who came for­ward just be­fore the com­mit­tee’s sched­uled vote on Ka­vanaugh to say that 36 years ago, when she was 15 years old, a drunken 17-yearold Ka­vanaugh forced her onto a bed, tried to un­dress her, and, when she tried to scream, cov­ered her mouth with his hand.

“Com­mit­tee in­ves­ti­ga­tors found no ver­i­fi­able ev­i­dence that sup­ported Dr. Ford’s al­le­ga­tion against Jus­tice Ka­vanaugh,” Grass­ley wrote.

The al­le­ga­tions con­tin­ued with Deb­o­rah Ramirez, who claimed that 35 years ago, when she was a student at Yale, a drunken Ka­vanaugh ex­posed him­self to her at a party. Then there was Julie Swet­nick, the woman who al­leged that Ka­vanaugh, 36 years ago, took part in drug­ging women and gan­grap­ing them at high school par­ties.

Then there was the so-called Rhode Is­land al­le­ga­tion, in which an anony­mous ac­cuser said Ka­vanaugh and friend Mark Judge sex­u­ally as­saulted a woman on a boat in 1985.

Then there was the anony­mous ac­cuser in Colorado, who said that in 1998, Ka­vanaugh shoved a woman he was dat­ing “very ag­gres­sively and sex­u­ally.”

“The com­mit­tee found no ev­i­dence to sup­port the al­le­ga­tions ... ,” Grass­ley wrote in ev­ery case.

When Grass­ley said the com­mit­tee found no ev­i­dence, he did not mean it did not try to find ev­i­dence. The com­mit­tee’s ef­forts to sub­stan­ti­ate the Ford al­le­ga­tion are well-known; in­ves­ti­ga­tors got in touch with 17 peo­ple who might have had in­for­ma­tion rel­e­vant to Ford’s story. The FBI in­ter­viewed more. No one ever found any con­tem­po­ra­ne­ous cor­rob­o­ra­tion, or much cor­rob­o­ra­tion at all, for Ford’s 36-year-old ac­cu­sa­tion.

The com­mit­tee also du­ti­fully chased in­for­ma­tion for the Ramirez, Swet­nick, Rhode Is­land, Colorado and Jane Doe al­le­ga­tions. The end re­sult was noth­ing.

Di­rect­ing in­ves­ti­ga­tors to chase down this or that ac­cu­sa­tion placed a huge bur­den on the com­mit­tee as it ex­er­cised its most im­por­tant re­spon­si­bil­i­ties.

Now, the chair­man clearly be­lieves he and the com­mit­tee were be­ing jerked around. He is not happy about it. And he is de­ter­mined to en­sure that it not hap­pen again.

Grass­ley has asked the Jus­tice De­part­ment to in­ves­ti­gate whether Swet­nick and her lawyer, 2020 Demo­cratic pres­i­den­tial hope­ful Michael Ave­natti, made false state­ments to the com­mit­tee. Grass­ley has also re­ferred a woman named Judy Munro-Leighton, who claimed she wrote the Jane Doe let­ter, for a false-state­ments in­ves­ti­ga­tion as well.

“Such con­duct wastes com­mit­tee time and re­sources, has the po­ten­tial to sig­nif­i­cantly in­ter­fere with con­gres­sional in­ves­ti­ga­tions, and greatly hin­ders the com­mit­tee’s abil­ity to as­sist the Se­nate in per­form­ing its con­sti­tu­tional re­spon­si­bil­i­ties,” Grass­ley wrote in the re­port. “The com­mit­tee is ready and will­ing to speak with any in­di­vid­ual who comes for­ward with crit­i­cal in­for­ma­tion in good faith. How­ever, the com­mit­tee will not tol­er­ate ef­forts to ob­struct its work.”

Given what hap­pened with Ka­vanaugh, it seems rea­son­able to pre­dict that if Pres­i­dent Trump has an­other Supreme Court open­ing, the op­po­si­tion will throw ev­ery­thing it has at the nom­i­nee. The Ju­di­ciary Com­mit­tee is pre­pared to han­dle ac­cu­sa­tions backed by ev­i­dence. Grass­ley wants to make sure every­body knows it will not take part in an­other cir­cus.

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