The top Democrat on the Senate Judiciary injected a new twist to the Brett Kavanaugh confirmation battle by publicizing an anonymous accusation that Kavanaugh engaged in misconduct, which is now described as an attempted sexual assault when Kavanaugh was in high school.
However, a prominent defender of Judge Kavanaugh says the timing and vagueness of the allegation all smell of political opportunism by Democrats.
In a piece for the New Yorker, Ronan Farrow writes that the unnamed accuser alleges that a teenage Kavanaugh tried to force himself on a female high school student and at least temporarily tried to prevent her from leaving a room at a party where he had been drinking.
In a statement, Kavanaugh said, “I categorically and unequivocally deny this allegation. I did not do this back in high school or at any time.”
No Senate Democrats are speaking publicly on the matter, other than Sen. Dianne Feinstein’s statement referring the matter to the FBI. Feinstein reportedly knew of the allegation since July.
Judicial Confirmation Network Chief Counsel Carrie Severino says Feinstein had ample opportunity to address the issue in public or in private with Kavanaugh in recent weeks, so the timing of this revelation seems awfully suspicious to her.
“If Sen. Feinstein truly thought that this was a credible claim that needed to be looked into, you’d expect her to talk about it during her personal interview with him or during the hearings,” said Severino, who notes that Kavanaugh responded to more than 1,200 questions from the Senate Judiciary Committee. That’s more than any other Supreme Court nominee.
“The story is still very murky about what went on. I think what’s clear here is that politically we know exactly where it’s coming from. (Senate Minority Leader) Chuck Schumer said, ‘I’m going to do everything I can in my power to stop this nomination. This is really just making good on that promise,” said Severino.
After a week of confirmation hearings that included consistent disruptions by protesters and various allegations by Democrats on the committee, Severino says this is just one more bit of ugliness in a very undignified performance from liberals.
“It’s just another one of those ugly moments that we’ve seen from protesters to threats against Sen. (Susan) Collins’ staff, bribery efforts that may be campaign finance violations,” said Severino.
Without a named accuser and without many specifics in the allegation, Severino says it’s hard to know what, if anything, actually happened 36 years ago. But she says the fact that 65 women who went to school with Kavanaugh immediately vouched for his character then and now and that the FBI sees no reason to investigate the claim lends credibility to Kavanaugh’s denial.
Severino says the bottom line is that Democrats are desperate for any reason to delay Kavanaugh’s confirmation.
“I’m surprised they haven’t said, ‘There’s a hurricane going on. We can’t have a vote until the end of hurricane season.’ They will use any excuse they can to delay this nomination. It’s really a last ditch effort because they hope against hope that maybe in the process of delaying it they can win the Senate or find something else to distract people.
“It’s simply not going to work. They have to face up to the facts that they don’t have the votes,” said Severino.