Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh may have committed a very serious crime — possibly even a sex crime. Or maybe he didn’t. That’s what we just learned from an extraordinarily vague press statement by Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-CA).
— Laura Litvan (@LauraLitvan) September 13, 2018
Although there is no clarity about what the allegation against Kavanaugh may be, or whether it is credible or not, The Intercept’s Ryan Grim suggested on Wednesday that the incident is likely to involve allegations of some kind of sexual misconduct. “Different sources provided different accounts of the contents of the letter,” he wrote, “and some of the sources said they themselves had heard different versions, but the one consistent theme was that it describes an incident involving Kavanaugh and a woman while they were in high school.”
Grim also reports that “the woman who is the subject of the letter is now being represented by Debra Katz, a whistleblower attorney who works with #MeToo survivors.”
The mystery deepened further on Thursday afternoon after the Huffington Post reported that “multiple sources” had attested that “the document in question is a letter sent to Rep. Anna Eshoo (D-Calif.) that concerns a decades-old incident involving Kavanaugh and a woman.”
Regrettably, these vague and uncertain allegations may inspire Senate Republicans to accelerate Kavanuagh’s confirmation process. In a break from past practice, Republicans on the Senate Judiciary Committee scheduled Kavanaugh’s confirmation hearing weeks before the National Archives released many records from his time in the Bush White House, and many of these records wound up becoming public in the middle of his hearing.
Indeed, it’s likely that this secretive process wound up hurting Kavanaugh, because it led to him giving evasive answers regarding emails he wrote more than a decade ago, rather than being able to learn about those emails in advance and prepare a plausible explanation.
In all likelihood, Senate Republicans rushed to hold Kavanuagh’s hearing because of the looming election. Barring new developments, Kavanaugh is currently on track for a confirmation vote in late September or early October. Delaying the hearing could have pushed the vote until after an election in which it’s not entirely certain that the Republicans will maintain their Senate majority.
Were they to fail to keep the Senate, that could potentially force the GOP into the unpleasant spectacle of confirming a hard right justice who will give Republicans a majority on the Supreme Court immediately after Republicans lose any semblance of a mandate to govern.
Now, the vague allegations against Kavanaugh give Senate Republicans even greater incentive to accelerate the vote. If it turns out that Kavanuagh did commit a serious crime or engage in some other activity that disqualifies him from the federal bench, it is unlikely that the White House could vet another nominee, and get that nominee through the confirmation process, before the winners of this November’s election take office. Republicans could very well lose their opportunity to seize control of the Supreme Court.
If Kavanaugh is confirmed, however, he has a lifetime appointment and can only be removed if two-thirds of senators agree to do so.