If Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh truly has not engaged in sexual misconduct, then he should welcome an FBI investigation to clear his name, multiple Democratic senators suggested during a hearing on Thursday. But when Kavanaugh was repeatedly urged to do so by Sen. Dick Durbin (D-IL), he refused.
Durbin pointed out that one of the two women who has accused Kavanaugh of sexual assault, Dr. Christine Blasey Ford, “sat in that chair [earlier today] and she said clearly that she was a victim of sexual assault at your hands.” Durbin noted that during his opening remarks, Kavanaugh said he would welcome whatever steps the Senate Judiciary Committee thinks is necessary to move forward with his confirmation.
“Right now, turn to your left, in the front row to Don McGahn — counsel to President Trump — and ask him to suspend this hearing and nomination process until the FBI completes its investigation of the charges made by Dr. Ford and others,” Durbin said. “This is a reasonable request to finally put to rest these charges if they are false.”
But instead of doing that, Kavanaugh merely insisted, “I welcome whatever the committee wants to do because I’m telling the truth.”
“I want to know what you want to do, judge,” Durbin replied.
“I’m innocent!” Kavanaugh replied. “I’m innocent.”
Later, Durbin pressed Kavanaugh on why he’s resisting an investigation that could clear his name.
“Judge Kavanaugh, will you support an FBI investigation right now?” Durbin asked. “Do you think that’s the best thing for us to do?”
Instead of answering directly, Kavanaugh sat in silence, before again asserting his innocence.
Kavanaugh continued dodging a few minutes later when Sen. Amy Klobuchar (D-MN) resumed Durbin’s line of questioning.
Republicans have struggled to explain why they are rushing to confirm Kavanaugh without first having the multiple sexual assault and misconduct investigations against him investigated by the FBI. Speaking to reporters earlier Thursday, Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC) went as far as to suggest that an investigation would be pointless.
GRAHAM: We don't even know what house this happened in! Or what day specifically!
REPORTER: Isn't that an argument for an FBI investigation?
G: Why didn't Dems call for one in August?
R: That doesn't answer the Q.
G: Well, the FBI wouldn't have told us anything useful anyway. pic.twitter.com/XeKXD509qm
— Aaron Rupar (@atrupar) September 27, 2018
The approach Republicans are taking in 2018 stands in contrast to what Republican senators and the administration of President George H.W. Bush did in 1991, when the FBI investigated sexual harassment allegations made against then-Supreme Court nominee Clarence Thomas before he was confirmed.
Trump, for his part, has insisted that the Senate’s investigation — which hasn’t included testimony from the one alleged eyewitness to Kavanaugh’s assault on Ford — is sufficient. Republican senators have punted the ball back to Trump, pointing out that the president is empowered to order the sort of investigation Democrats are calling for, not senators.