Nearly one year ago, on October 6, 2018, Brett Kavanaugh was pushed onto the Supreme Court by Senate Republicans who prevented the FBI from conducting a legitimate investigation into allegations of sexual misconduct that had been raised against him. The Court’s new term gets underway in October – and while Kavanaugh may be seated on the bench, there will still be plenty of unfinished business around the process that put him there.
Revelations in a new book by New York Times reporters Robin Pogrebin and Kate Kelly have led prominent public officials to declare that Kavanaugh clearly lied under oath during his confirmation hearings. And the book adds to the evidence that Senate Republicans and the Trump administration deceived the American people by pretending to carry out an investigation while FBI agents were not even talking to potential witnesses.
While Christine Blasey Ford was given the opportunity to testify, Deborah Ramirez was not. Senate Judiciary Committee Republicans told the public that there was “no corroboration” of her allegations. But you can’t find what you don’t look for.
Ramirez reportedly gave the FBI the names of more than two dozen people who might be able to corroborate her story about Kavanaugh shoving his penis in her face during a party at Yale. After several days’ delay, agents interviewed Ramirez, but they were not allowed to talk to any of the other potential witnesses, including many who proactively reached out to the FBI. Democratic Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse of Rhode Island has said that the Ramirez allegations were not “even remotely investigated.”
Max Stier, another Yale classmate, recalled a separate but similar incident involving Kavanaugh and a female student. Stier told the FBI about it, but the bureau did not investigate. According to the Times reporters, the student Stier named declined to talk to them, and some of her friends told them she didn’t remember the incident.
The Trump administration and its right-wing media allies have rushed to attack the Times for leaving that last detail out of its original story—and to try to deflect attention from the evidence about the Kavanaugh book by turning the conversation into another partisan, media-bashing food fight.
But the important story here is not about the editing of a newspaper article. And we can’t let conservatives succeed in making it so.
The real story is the betrayal of the public trust by Senate Republicans who failed to carry out their constitutional responsibility to fully vet nominees to powerful lifetime positions on our federal courts, aided by the Trump administration. And it’s about the loss of institutional integrity for the Senate, the Justice Department and FBI, and the Supreme Court itself.
Some presidential candidates have called for Kavanaugh’s impeachment in Congress. But we American citizens have our own role to play. We can and must use the 2020 elections to hold accountable Republican senators—like Maine Senator Susan Collins, Iowa Senator Joni Ernst, and Colorado Senator Cory Gardner—who went along with the cynical charade and voted to put Kavanaugh on the Supreme Court without a full and fair investigation, where he’s likely to be voting on Americans’ lives and liberties for decades.
Meanwhile, congressional Democrats can exercise other options to get to the bottom of the entire rotten process that put Kavanaugh on the high court. They can use their constitutional authority to investigate that deeply flawed process and the ways in which Americans were misled by their public officials. House Democrats can and should hold hearings to expose and investigate the withholding of federal documents and the ridiculous restrictions placed on FBI agents’ ability to do their jobs. That’s the role of Congress.
Kavanaugh is far from the only narrow-minded elitist given a powerful federal judgeship by President Trump and Senate Republicans. Together they’re packing the courts at an alarming rate with ideologues who are eager to reverse decades of precedents that protect our rights, health, and communities, and have already begun to do just that. The only way to stop the president and these senators is to mobilize enough Americans to take away their political power. Let’s do it.