Republicans may be about to snatch defeat from the jaws of victory when it comes to the Supreme Court. The decision to have the FBI investigate Brett Kavanaugh may well delay President Trump’s appointment to the Supreme Court so long that it won’t be possible to appoint a conservative to the seat.
As yet, there is little evidence that Christine Blasey Ford is correct in her identification of Brett Kavanaugh as the man who attacked her sometime in the early or mid-1980s, but that may no longer matter. Since last week’s Senate testimony, the goalposts have shifted from the question of whether Kavanaugh sexually assaulted Ford to whether he lied under oath.
A central thrust of the argument against Kavanaugh is now that he committed perjury by lying about his behavior as a young man at Georgetown Prep. Several former classmates have already come forward to say that the judge has not been honest about the extent of his drinking, his sexual activities and the meanings of slang terms written in his yearbook. If the FBI investigation uncovers evidence that Kavanaugh has been lying to Congress, then it might not only lend credence to Ford’s allegations, but it would also undermine Kavanaugh’s credibility in general. Having a wild adolescence is one thing, but lying about your past in current testimony is another.
The fact that the White House expanded the scope of the investigation also works against Republicans. The midterm elections are a month away and the investigation will last at least until the end of next week, assuming that it is not expanded further in terms of scope and time. Even if the FBI investigation comes up clean, Republicans will be forced to vote on an unpopular nominee shortly before a hotly contested election. That scenario could cost the GOP even more seats.
The other scenario is even worse. If the investigation uncovers more embarrassing facts about Kavanaugh’s past, Republicans could find themselves in a position where President Trump has to vet, appoint and confirm a new nominee in the short time before the new Congress is seated, which may well contain a Democrat majority in the Senate.
Lame duck Republicans may find themselves hard pressed to confirm a Supreme Court candidate. Moderates such as the usual suspects (Flake, Collins and Murkowski) could delay or vote no, especially if the election turns out to be a rebuke of President Trump and the GOP, and there would be absolutely no chance of having Democrats cross the aisle to confirm. If Democrats win control of the Senate, the Supreme Court may well soldier on with eight justices for the next two years.
Of course, President Trump had no choice but to authorize an investigation after Sen. Jeff Flake’s threat to oppose Kavanaugh. The slim GOP majority cannot afford any deserters and Flake may well have taken Collins and Murkowski with him.
The big question with no answer is whether Flake would have threatened to derail the nomination if he had not been party to a multi-year feud with President Trump. Flake has long been a critic of President Trump and the president returned the favor by working to undermine the senator’s reelection campaign, eventually forcing Flake into retirement. If Donald Trump had been nicer to Jeff Flake would Kavanaugh be celebrating his confirmation now? There is no way to know for sure.
In the end, Ford has an inconsistent story, Kavanaugh is contradicted by his classmates and Trump has a habit of hurling insults. There is a lesson here that everyone involved should take to heart: Words matter.
Originally published on The Resurgent