Thursday, September 27, 2018

Kavanaugh: Trump backs away


A FEW MONTHS ago, it was all going according to plan. President* Trump had anointed his golden boy, Brett Michael Kavanaugh, to be the next Justice of the United States Supreme Court. Trump had already praised Kavanaugh to the skies. “Judge Kavanaugh has impeccable credentials, unsurpassed qualifications and a proven commitment to equal justice under the law,” Trump said from the East Room of the White House, on July 9.

Kavanaugh, a judge with the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit, did the walkabout to lawmakers’ offices on Capitol Hill as if ordained. They did everything but trot him around in a sedan chair. “We're going to have a thorough process. Hopefully it's efficient, we get it done quickly,” said Republican Sen. Chuck Grassley of Iowa, the committee chairman. “In the end, I think his record will speak for itself.”

But things have changed. Thanks to allegations from (at this writing) no fewer than five presumably credible accusers, including Dr. Christine Blasey Ford, testifying before the Senate Judiciary Committee this morning, Sept. 27 — and the nominee’s own previous embroideries of the truth, the Supreme Court nomination of Kavanaugh is in trouble.

If you wanted to confirm that, read the statements from the man who nominated him, Trump himself. Read closely.

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On Twitter on Sept. 24, at the UN General Assembly in New York, Trump called Kavanaugh “a wonderful man, and a man who has the potential to be one of our greatest Supreme Court Justices ever.”

Trump called Kavanaugh “a fine man with an unblemished past and these are highly unsubstantiated statements from people represented by lawyers,” adding later that it would “be sad indeed” if he’s prevented from serving on the nation’s highest court.

Note the hedging, conditional language there: Kavanaugh is “a man who has the potential” to join the court, and it would “be sad indeed” if he didn’t.

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IF THAT wasn’t enough, on Wednesday, Sept. 26, the president* was asked about whether he might be persuaded to withdraw Kavanaugh's nomination. Trump said: “If I thought he was guilty of something like this ... yeah, sure.”

And he spoke about the hearings that have just started. “I'm going to see what happens tomorrow. I'm going to be watching,” Trump said. “I'm going to see what's said. It's possible they will be convincing.”

“You know what? I can be persuaded also,” Trump continued. “I can't tell you if they're liars until I hear them. ... I can be convinced of anything.”

I can be persuaded. I can be convinced of anything. You don’t need to put the message on a sandwich board for it to be perfectly clear: Kavanaugh’s status in jeopardy and The Don is throwing him under the bus in slow motion.

Much will depend on how well Blasey Ford performs; sometimes the best laid plans of witnesses come undone under the withering glare of a Senate committee. But if the doctor is even remotely credible in her full testimony, and she probably will be, Trump would do well to start doing what for him has been unimaginable: Imagining some other candidate for the Supreme Court.

Image credits: Kavanaugh: via The Root.

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