The confirmation battle over the nomination of D.C. Circuit Judge Brett Kavanaugh to the Supreme Court is back in the headlines after The Intercept reported on Wednesday that Senator Dianne Feinstein was keeping a document from her Senate Judiciary Committee Democratic colleagues that was regarding an incident involving Brett Kavanaugh in high school. On Thursday, Senator Feinstein issued a statement that she had "information" on Judge Kavanaugh from an individual who requested confidentiality. On Sunday, The Washington Post reported the identity of the accuser -- California research psychologist Dr. Christine Blasey Ford.
While the story recounted by Dr. Ford is harrowing, this is not the proper way to handle an allegation of sexual assault against a nominee for high office, for the sake of everyone involved -- the accused nominee, the woman making the accusation, and the state of our political discourse and process. Instead of using the confirmation process to vet the accusation, Senator Feinstein has held onto it until the last moment, releasing it at a time when she thinks it can be used to smear Judge Kavanaugh without giving the allegation a complete evaluation and hearing.
Here are some of the numbers from the past few weeks that show how Senator Feinstein is not interested in the truth but in using Dr. Ford's alleged trauma for political purposes:
- 6: Number of weeks that Senator Feinstein had Dr. Ford's letter before doing anything with it or raising the issue. She had ample opportunity both in her private meeting with Judge Kavanaugh on August 20 and in the closed portion of the Senate Judiciary Committee hearing on September 6 to question Judge Kavanaugh about the allegations without violating Dr. Ford's request for confidentiality.
- 32+: Number of hours that Judge Kavanaugh sat before the Senate Judiciary Committee listening to statements and answering questions.
- 1,278: Number of questions for the record submitted to Judge Kavanaugh by Senate Judiciary Committee Democrats. None of these asked about an alleged sexual assault in high school.
- 1,247: Number of questions for the record submitted to all previous Supreme Court nominees by members of the Senate Judiciary Committee combined.
- 6: Number of FBI background checks performed on Judge Kavanaugh since 1993. None of these uncovered any evidence of sexual misconduct.
- 471: Number of "judges, lawyers, and professors" from whom the American Bar Association requested "information regarding Judge Kavanaugh’s integrity, professional competence, and judicial temperament." 120 responded, and after interviewing respondents and conducting an evaluation of Judge Kavanaugh's writings, the 15 members of the ABA's Standing Committee on the Judiciary unanimously voted Judge Kavanaugh "well-qualified" to serve on the Supreme Court.
- 65: Number of women who knew Brett Kavanaugh in high school who wrote to Chairman Chuck Grassley and Senator Feinstein saying, "For the entire time we have known Brett Kavanaugh, he has behaved honorably and treated women with respect."
Chairman Grassley has conducted a thorough and fair evaluation for Judge Kavanaugh, even indulging the Democrats in their various antics during the hearings. Even now, Chairman Grassley wants to evaluate the truth of Dr. Ford's claims, even though Senator Feinstein had ample opportunity to raise the claims before now. But as Chairman Grassley tries to move forward in investigating the claim, he is faced with more obstruction by Senator Feinstein (emphasis added):
The standard procedure for updates to any nominee’s background investigation file is to conduct separate follow-up calls with relevant parties. In this case, that would entail phone calls with at least Judge Kavanaugh and Dr. Ford. Consistent with that practice, I asked Senator Feinstein’s office yesterday to join me in scheduling these follow-ups. Thus far, they have refused. But as a necessary step in evaluating these claims, I’ll continue working to set them up.