It is genuinely stunning to watch Republicans double down on the Supreme Court nomination of Brett Kavanaugh-who now faces a second allegation of sexual misconduct-when they could easily replace him with someone just as conservative. Some of his backers are merely questioning the allegations; others are completely losing the plot. (For his part, the nominee has now produced calendars he supposedly kept as a 17-year-old high schooler. They do not feature an entry reading "go to party to do underage drinking" anywhere, which he's presenting as a defense.)
But in general, the determined backing of Kavanaugh seems now to be a way of demonstrating power: If they can force him through in these circumstances, they'll show The Base they still have what it takes to win the war-and Own The Libs in the process.
No one is better versed in this style of dominance politics than Donald Trump, American president. El Jefe was remarkably reserved for much of last week, holding back on his usual tactic of aggressively smearing anyone who gets in his way. But regular service looks set to resume. At the end of last week, Trump began to question why Dr. Christine Blasey Ford did not come forward earlier, despite what we know about how sex-crimes victims often process the events, and the fact that Ford did come forward months ago-she just asked Senator Dianne Feinstein not to go public with her allegations. The senator was respecting the wishes of an alleged victim-which, granted, is not something you'd expect Donald Trump to understand. After all, 19 women suggest they are his victims.
Anyway, Trump continued on that line in a radio interview set to air Monday, flagged by The New York Times:
Yet Mr. Trump suggested Christine Blasey Ford’s allegations against Judge Kavanaugh were suspect because she never reported them to the authorities. “This went 36 years without a complaint.” ...
“Hopefully, we’ll have a second judge very shortly who is a fantastic, fantastic man, a fantastic talent and intellect,” Mr. Trump said.
To his credit, Trump did suggest Ford's claims deserve a hearing:
The president, nonetheless, said he favored allowing Dr. Blasey to make her case before the Senate. “I want her to have her voice,” he said. “Let her have her voice, let her say whatever she has to say. Let him say what he has to say and that in the end these senators will make a choice.”
But it's hard to overlook Senate Republicans' refusal to subpoena Mark Judge, whom Ford alleges was in the room when she says Kavanaugh assaulted her. Republicans used their outside voices last week to make it abundantly clear they're not actually interested in whether the allegations are credible, a sign that the hearing is likely to be a sham in the mold of the Clarence Thomas-Anita Hill debacle of decades ago. The omission of Judge feels particularly egregious now that TheNew Yorkerreport detailing another allegation against Kavanaugh-made by Deborah Rodriguez, a classmate at Yale, who says Kavanaugh exposed himself to her against her will at a dorm room party when they'd been drinking-also included this allegation about Judge:
After seeing Judge’s denial, Elizabeth Rasor, who met Judge at Catholic University and was in a relationship with him for about three years, said that she felt morally obligated to challenge his account that “ ‘no horseplay’ took place at Georgetown Prep with women.” Rasor stressed that “under normal circumstances, I wouldn’t reveal information that was told in confidence,” but, she said, “I can’t stand by and watch him lie.” In an interview with The New Yorker, she said, “Mark told me a very different story.” Rasor recalled that Judge had told her ashamedly of an incident that involved him and other boys taking turns having sex with a drunk woman. Rasor said that Judge seemed to regard it as fully consensual. She said that Judge did not name others involved in the incident, and she has no knowledge that Kavanaugh participated. But Rasor was disturbed by the story and noted that it undercut Judge’s protestations about the sexual innocence of Georgetown Prep. (Barbara Van Gelder, an attorney for Judge, said that he “categorically denies” the account related by Rasor. Van Gelder said that Judge had no further comment.)
Considering the specifics of the first allegation against Kavanaugh, this seems like something worth looking into. Again: Ford specifically named Judge as a witness to her alleged sexual assault. Why isn't he testifying at a hearing that's supposedly meant to assess the merits of that allegation?
The ramped-up attack on Ford's credibility was just one feature of Trump's interview, where he also declined to say whether he intended to fire Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein, who oversees Special Counsel Robert Mueller's investigation into Trump and his associates. A Timesreport on Friday suggested Rosenstein had sought to invoke the 25th Amendment to remove Trump from office and to wear a wire to record their conversations, though subsequent reports-including from The Washington Post-suggested the comments may have been sarcastic. Trump followed this up by attacking the mayor of San Juan, Puerto Rico, Carmen Yulín Cruz, who questioned his insane claim that the independent assessment that nearly 3,000 people died during and after Hurricane Maria was some sort of Democratic plot against him.
But there was one passage that really drove home, once again, what we're dealing with in this presidency.
Mr. Trump asserted that he was not worried about his former personal attorney, Michael D. Cohen, who is talking with Mr. Mueller’s prosecutors after pleading guilty to breaking campaign finance laws and other crimes.
“No, I’m not, because I’m an honest guy,” Mr. Trump said. “And that stuff is unrelated to me. And that was Michael did that stuff. And Michael I mean you know, you know I have many, many lawyers. I have very big law firms I have that do my work.”
While the president said it was “unrelated to me,” in fact, Mr. Cohen acknowledged in court that Mr. Trump directed him to make payments to two women during the 2016 campaign to keep them silent about affairs they said they had with the candidate.
There is nothing more quintessentially Trumpian than his suggesting he's "an honest guy" while lying outright about his own legal jeopardy. The idea Trump's former fixer is talking to the special counsel about issues unrelated to the Trump campaign is absurd on its face. That Cohen said in open court that it was related to Trump, and Trump still loudly and proudly suggests the opposite, tells you all you need to know. The question, as always, is why we should believe the president when he says anything at all-including that his Supreme Court nominee is a "fantastic man."
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