GOP senators are setting up a sham hearing to protect Brett Kavanaugh


It's clear Republican senators aren't interested in the truth.

Republican senators have already made it perfectly clear they are determined to put Brett Kavanaugh on the Supreme Court, and nothing — not even a credible allegation of violent sexual assault — will change their minds.

So rather than conduct a fair and thorough investigation of Christine Blasey Ford's horrific claim that Kavanaugh tried to rape her when they were both in high school, the Republicans on the Senate Judiciary Committee are rushing to get through a sham hearing.

In an interview with right-wing radio host Hugh Hewitt, committee chair Chuck Grassley made clear he's not even interested in hearing from all of the relevant witnesses.

"We’ve got two people involved, and two people ought to be able to present their stories, and then we'll have to be the jury," Grassley said.

That's not true, though. Ford told the Washington Post there were three people involved: her, Kavanaugh, and Kavanaugh's friend. That friend has been identified as Mark Judge, and he has provided different comments about Kavanaugh in response.

Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer said Tuesday that of course Judge should be called to testify. Grassley's intention to call only Kavanaugh and Ford is, Schumer said, "simply inadequate."

But Grassley doesn't want to hear from Judge.

Nor does he intend to hear from either of Ford's therapists, whose notes indicate that in 2012 and in 2013 she talked about the violent assault she experienced in high school.

Nor does Grassley have any interesting in testimony from Ford's friends, who say she told them in 2017 about a traumatic attempted rape she survived when she was a teenager.

When Ford went public with her story on Sunday, Grassley's committee put out a statement dismissing her claims as "uncorroborated allegations from more than 35 years ago," while at the same time referencing a letter praising Kavanaugh from 65 women who knew Kavanaugh at the same time — 35 years ago.

For Grassley and his fellow Republicans, it seems only the evidence supporting Kavanaugh is relevant. Evidence that supports Ford's story is not.

Senate Republicans have made it abundantly clear that they want to get a hearing over with as quickly as possible to return to the confirmation process, regardless of what might come out in the hearing.

South Carolina Sen. Lindsey Graham, for example, said he was OK with testimony from Ford, as long as it happened "immediately, so the process can continue as scheduled."

Utah Sen. Orrin Hatch went even further, saying that even if Ford's allegations are true — in other words, even if Kavanaugh really did try to rape her in high school — it doesn't matter.

"If that was true, I think it would be hard for senators to not consider who the judge is today," Hatch said Monday. "That’s the issue. Is this judge a really good man? And he is. And by any measure he is."

Even as Republicans are making clear that a hearing will make no difference to them, they're criticizing Ford for not immediately agreeing to appear Monday.

"We have reached out to her in the last 36 hours three of four times by email, and we’ve not heard from them, so it kind of raises the question do they want to, do they want to come to the public hearing or not?" Grassley said.

None of this instills confidence that the Republicans have any interest in the truth or in taking the allegations seriously. If they did, they would be following the advice of someone who knows all too well how such hearings can go terribly wrong: Anita Hill.

In a New York Times op-ed, the law professor who testified in 1991 that Clarence Thomas sexually harassed her lays out in specific detail how such a hearing should be conducted. Hill was viciously attacked by Republican senators at the time.

In fact, Orrin Hatch, who is still on the Judiciary Committee, continued to attack Hill for decades, saying even in 2010 that Thomas was owed an apology.

"There is no way to redo 1991," Hill writes, "but there are ways to do better."

One of Hill's recommendations is to not rush to hold a hearing without taking the appropriate time to investigate and prepare for it. Which is exactly what Grassley's committee is doing.

"Doing so would not only signal that sexual assault accusations are not important — hastily appraising this situation would very likely lead to facts being overlooked that are necessary for the Senate and the public to evaluate," Hill writes. "That the committee plans to hold a hearing this coming Monday is discouraging."

Republicans have an opportunity and a responsibility to demonstrate that they have learned something in the nearly 30 years since Hill's testimony. Instead, they seem horrifically determined to repeat the same ugly mistakes all over again.

Published with permission of The American Independent Foundation.