Donald Trump’s second Supreme Court pick Judge Kavanaugh has moved one step closer to being seated after a chaotic vote in which GOP Sen. Jeff Flake agreed to give a thumbs up on condition of an FBI investigation of Christine Blasey Ford’s sexual assault allegations against the judge.
The Senate Judiciary Committee voted 11 to 10 to move the nomination to the full Senate, about half an hour after the vote had been scheduled.
The delay was caused by wild last-minute cajoling of Flake, who finally walked back into the committee room and voted, telling Dems “some of us” would take a request to the White House to ask the FBI to do an investigation lasting no more than one week, that would be “limited in scope” to the allegations made by Ford.
In a mad-hatter’s move, committee chair Sen. Chuck Grassley then gaveled out the meeting, saying they the committee had hit the two-hour limit, while committee top Democrat Sen. Dianne Feinstein could be heard on her microphone saying “What??”
Sen. Flake, one of few Republicans thought to maybe be a wild card in the vote, had controlled the storyline most of today, issuing a statement in the morning announcing he would join Camp Confirm Kavanaugh.
Flake paid dearly for that scene stealing when, moments after his announcement, TV news camera caught protesters confronting him as he walked into an elevator on his way to a morning session of the committee.
“You are…allowing someone who actually violated a woman to sit on the Supreme Court!” shouted one angry woman, as cameras homed in on Flake grimacing and looking away.
“This is not tolerable!” the protester shouted. “What are you doing, sir?!” yelled another. “You’re telling all women that they don’t matter. ”
“Look at me when I’m talking to you!” one of them scolded as Flake continued to avoid their gaze.
Later, Republican Sen. Bob Corker followed suit and said he would vote Kavanaugh’s way.
While the vote was scheduled for 1:30 PM ET, Day 2 of drama started early with a vote to take the vote. As Grassley was taking a trip down Memory Lane, recounting all his previous day’s hearing talking points, Democrats Sen. Kamala Harris, Sen. RIchard Blumenthal and Sen. Mazie Hirono walked out, to protest the “charade.”
Grassley, irked that photojournalists were following their movement instead of his blah, blah, blah, snapped at them.
“Hey, you folks that are photographers know that you’re supposed to sit down,” he scolded. “Maybe you just ought to leave the room if you don’t know what the rules are.”
Later, after his time at the microphone, Dem Sen. Cory Booker walked out of the committee room to join his colleagues, saying he could not participate.
Less than half an hour before the vote was scheduled, Dem Sen. Richard Blumenthal made a final stab at getting the committee to delay the vote and ask for and FBI investigation into allegations against Kavanaugh, then he exited the chamber.
Grassley’s long-ish remarks kicking off the spechifying part of the day’s festivities, had been followed by GOP Sen. Orrin Hatch, who praised Grassley for being such a great committee chair. Hatch also scolded celebrity lawyer Michael Avenatti for having given the first interview with his client/Kavanaugh accuser Julie Swetnick to “a show called The Circus which, Hatch sniffed, is “fitting” given the circumstances when, of course, the highly touted Showtime political docu-series is named for Orrin Hatch and other carnival barkers of Washington.
Showtime definitely owes Hatch a fruit basket.
Sen Grasslely noted Kavanaugh’s “forceful denial” of Ford’s allegations” and the “hundreds of people – including women – who attested to his “fundamental decency.”
On the flip side, the committee’s top Dem, Sen. Dianne Feinstein, pronounced herself “shocked” by Kavanaugh’s behavior at Thursday’s hearing. Kavanaugh, who previously had resembled a Catholic school choirboy in a pre-buttal to yesterday’s hearing, on Fox News channel, went full Donald Trump at yesterday’s hearing, attacking Dems on the committee and talking about deep state conspiracy theories.
“In the 25 years I have been on this committee I have never seen a nominee for any position behave in that manner,” Feinstein decried of Kavanaugh’s aggression.
“Judge Kavanaugh used as much political rhetoric as my Republican colleagues,” Feinstein said. h“He went on the attack. He yelled at Democrats for having the temerity to express our frustration for not having access to over 90% of his record. And he said some Democratic members were quote, ‘an embarrassment’.”
“He accused Democrats of lying in wait and replacing ‘advice and consent’ with ‘search and destroy.’ He even went so far as to say Dr. Ford’s allegations were nothing more than a ‘calculated and orchestrated political hit’ fueled with ‘apparent pent up anger about President Trump and the 2016 election’, and ‘revenge on behalf of the Clintons’.”
“Unbelievable,” Feinstein marveled, insisting Kavanaugh’s behavior showed him to be ill-fitted to sit on the country’s top court.
“This was not someone who reflected an impartial temperament or the fairness an even-handedness one should see in a judge,” she argued. “This was someone who was aggressive and belligerent. I have never seen someone who wanted to be elevated to the highest court in the country behave in that manner.”
Various committee members waited for their at-bats to speak their minds about Kavanaugh and Lord’s testimony and the committee’s handling of the nomination.
Overnight, a leading Catholic Jesuit magazine that previously endorsed Kavanaugh, had yanked that endorsement in an op-ed, citing Thursday’s testimony. And, the American Bar Association, which had deemed him “well qualified” to be named to the Supreme Court, undid that thumbs-up, sending a letter to committee chairman Grassley insisting on an FBI investigation into Ford’s sexual assault allegation after her testimony. Kavanaugh had cited ABA several times in his testimony.
And, the dean of Yale Law School has for an investigation into the allegations against its alum. Kavanaugh is an alum.
Sen. Lindsey Graham stole the show on on Thursday, performing an old-school scenery-chewing mad scene at the Senate Judiciary Committee hearing which he called the most unethical sham since I have been in politics” – which, interestingly, is pretty much what Dems were saying today of the vote.
“If you really want to know the truth, you sure as hell wouldn’t have done what you did to this guy,” Graham screamed at Democrats in the committee room, which late night shows feasted on, being such a great set up to any number of Merrick Garland gags.
Though his press reps had been cautious in predictions heading into today’s vote, President Donald Trump on Thursday evening had taken a victory lap after Kavanaugh’s testimony.
“Democrats’ search and destroy strategy is disgraceful and this process has been a total sham and effort to delay, obstruct, and resist,” Trump tweeted, adding, “The Senate must vote!”
After Thursday’s hearing and Trump’s tweeted reax, Democratic committee member Sen. Patrick Leahy, out in the Senate hallway, told reporters, of his Republican committee colleagues, “They’re going to do whatever the White House and Mitch McConnell tells them to do.”
Asked his thoughts on Kavanaugh’s testimony, Leahy responded that it took him “back to memories of Clarence Thomas.”