After several sexual assault allegations against Brett Kavanaugh and Dr. Christine Blasey Ford’s powerful and brutal testimony on Thursday, the Senate Judiciary Committee is showing how seriously it’s taking the allegations against Ford by moving forward with its scheduled Friday morning vote on Kavanaugh’s nomination to the Supreme Court.
The vote, which is the first item on the Judiciary Committee’s Executive Business Meeting agenda, has been on the schedule since Tuesday, as committee rules require all votes to be announced at least three days ahead of time. That day, Committee Chairman Chuck Grassley insisted that the scheduled vote was just a hypothetical and that the Committee could absolutely postpone if the hearing’s events compelled them to do so.
After the hearing, Grassley didn’t give reporters a straight answer, but it appears that the vote is on. Per CNN:
Senate Judiciary Committee chairman Chuck Grassley repeatedly declined to answer questions Thursday night from reporters as he repeatedly said, “we’re meeting at 9:30" — a reference to the committee meeting where the panel is scheduled to vote on whether to give Kavanaugh a favorable recommendation.
When asked by the media if the nomination come to the full Senate floor for a vote, Grassley responded “Depends on what happens tomorrow.”
The Judiciary Committee is voting, as I write this, in slightly more than 12 hours. Today, it heard over six hours of testimony from both the nominee and Blasey Ford, who has accused Kavanaugh of sexually assaulting her at a party when they were both teenagers.
Instead of sitting on that overwhelming amount of information—from Kavanaugh’s tears about his high school social calendar to Ford’s quiet, wrenching description of her assault—the Judiciary Committee is proceeding full steam ahead into voting on the wildly contentious question that has dominated the national news cycle for weeks and has immense ramifications on the future of the country. Just last night, news broke of a wash of anonymous accusations against Kavanaugh, which quickly devolved into an absolute mess of conflicting information, twitter trolls, and speculation. If the committee is barely going to sleep on the hearing’s testimony and a week’s worth of investigation, it begs the question: for Republicans on the committee, did any of this even matter?
It certainly should! It’s hard to imagine any member of the Senate skipped watching Kavanaugh and Ford’s testimony entirely, and the four most important votes in the Senate were spotted huddling together in an office directly afterward. But the Republican plan to blast through every possible step of the process to get Kavanaugh to a full Senate confirmation as quickly as possible is clearly working.
And sure enough, despite the closed-door meeting of swing votes, the Atlantic reported on Thursday night that West Virginia Sen. Joe Manchin, a Democrat, was strongly considering a yes vote. A spokesman later denied those reports.
The Republicans already have a 51-49 majority in the Senate. For the Democrats to mount any sort of opposition to Kavanaugh’s confirmation, they need Manchin, and they need to get Jeff Flake, Susan Collins, or Lisa Murkowski to also vote against. Manchin has no political excuse, except that he’s a chickenshit centrist so terrified of losing votes he actively supports some of Trump’s policies, like the border wall. Flake, Collins, and Murkowski talk a big game, but they still vote with Trump more than 80 percent of the time (Collins is at 79.2, but close enough).
The president, for his part, loved it.
For a moment, this afternoon, watching Kavanaugh angrily splutter and cry on the stand, after Ford’s chilling testimony of hearing her alleged would-be rapists laugh “uproariously” as they tore at her clothes, it looked like it would be enough to stop from putting this man on the Supreme Court, or at least slow things down enough for an FBI investigation; a lawyer for Mark Judge, the other man who Ford says was there, told Splinter shortly after the conclusion of the hearing that he would agree to participate in a “confidential, fact finding investigation.”
But with less than 12 hours before the Judiciary Committee’s Republican majority likely votes to send Kavanaugh through to the full Senate with their stamp of approval, it’s all but clear now that there’s nothing Christine Blasey Ford could have done or said that would have changed their minds.