This Has All Been an Infuriating Sham

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To seasoned political watchers and people who have spent the last two years gradually becoming more depressed and hopeless—the Venn diagram of those two things really ought be a circle—this news may come as no surprise, but it is galling nonetheless. Sen. Chuck Grassley, chair of the Senate Judiciary Committee and old, old man, confirmed this morning that he does not think the pathetic farce of an FBI investigation into Brett Kavanaugh revealed anything new and thus will be voting to confirm him.


We have no way of knowing whether the report doesn’t contain anything new—Chuck Schumer disputed Grassley’s characterization shortly after—because it’s only available to senators one at time in a locked basement and not being made public. But it isn’t a surprise that the investigation is being used in this manner, regardless of what it actually says. Nor is it a surprise that Grassley is saying this—he would probably vote the same way even if Kavanaugh personally shot him in the dick—but it’s still infuriating, and it’s an indication of what the GOP’s message about this investigation will be: nothin’ to see here, folks, we told you all along, let’s get this wrapped up in time to watch the football on Sunday.


We knew this would be the message no matter what the investigation said, but it’s very possible the investigation doesn’t reveal a lot, because it was a fraud. The FBI didn’t interview Christine Blasey Ford, or any of the more than 40 other people that NBC News reported as having potentially important information. In fact, the White House said on Thursday that investigators only interviewed nine people of the 10 they contacted. Classmates of Kavanaugh’s from Yale have tried and failed to get in touch with the FBI. As the Washington Post reported, the White House also restricted the FBI from digging too deeply into Kavanaugh’s drinking, which he pretty clearly lied about to the Senate and which significantly relates to the question of whether he assaulted Ford; if he wasn’t credible on that, it’s reasonable to believe he might not be credible in saying he didn’t do it. Credibility is the whole question here—we’re confirming him to the Supreme Court, not sending him to prison or even impeaching him from his current role on the U.S. Court of Appeals.

It was clear all along that this investigation would not be a serious inquiry into the allegations, but merely a fig leaf designed to give wobbly Republicans like Jeff Flake enough cover to vote for Kavanaugh. The extent of the insult—the absolute balls on these fuckers, the incredible baldness with which they have conducted this entire affair—is both painful and absurd. It is cruel to women and especially sexual assault survivors to pretend like any of them were taking this seriously or ever expected it to do more than scratch the surface.

Flake, the senator whose last-minute wobbles led us to this situation, is not dumb enough to think it’s a real investigation. The question is whether he will admit that in public; whether he will use his last few months as a senator to actually do anything, or whether he will nod along as his party uses the law enforcement arm of the U.S. government to conduct a sham investigation into a guy they want to install on the Supreme Court so he can end abortion rights and worker protections, which is not a good thing for a functioning democracy to do.

I’m confident I know the answer to that question. Flake did this because it was bad press when he got harangued in an elevator by sexual assault survivors, and he needed a good enough reason to vote yes, plus more time in between the yelling and the vote. The investigation he so bravely pushed for is a joke, but it has “FBI” stamped in big letters on the top, so it will do.


Flake has never shown himself to be anything but a cynical manipulator of the media, a man-shaped collection of pretenses and lies in a suit that has no real qualms with what his party does, unless it affects big business. There is a picture of him in the dictionary next to the phrase “all talk, no action.” Soon, there will be a picture of him in the dictionary next to the word “coward.”

Splinter politics writer.

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