Before we get to the Ramirez news, have a good look at the photo above of Kavanaugh protesters. How did these people not opt for the obvious “Kava? Nah” pun instead of “Kava Nope”? Good lord.
Anyway. Are we to assume from this that Deborah Ramirez, the Kavanaugh accuser at the center of the Ronan Farrow/Jane Mayer story, won’t testify before Congress if given the opportunity? It doesn’t say that specifically. But what other conclusion can we reach?
Sen. John Kennedy, R-La., who sits on the committee, said a lawyer for Ramirez told committee staff she would not speak to them about her allegation that Kavanaugh flashed his naked groin in her face during an alcohol-laden party their freshman year. Ramirez made the accusation in a blockbuster Sunday night New Yorker story.
“Our counsel repeatedly tried to reach him,” Kennedy said of Ramirez’s lawyer. “They finally did reached him, and he said we are not issuing a statement. He said if you want our statement, read the New Yorker.”
That is … curious, especially with Ford having agreed to testify already. The contrast between one accuser facing the fire while another declines will lead inevitably to the perception among many that Ramirez doesn’t have supreme confidence in her own story.
And how could she? She “remembered” it six days ago after being unsure of the details for 35 years.
Some are speculating that she’s trying to avoid speaking under oath, knowing that she’d risk a perjury charge if her story could somehow be disproved. Meh. There’s no universe in which the feds would pick a needless fight with #MeToo by attempting to jail someone who admittedly can’t firmly recall the specifics of an alleged sexual assault. And it makes no sense to believe that being placed under oath would itself somehow jar loose the truth from Ramirez. If she lied to the New Yorker to smear a political enemy in the biggest possible spotlight, swearing on a Bible to tell the truth wouldn’t scare her away from maintaining the lie.
If in fact she’s refusing to testify, it’s probably because (a) either she’s sincerely unsure of her own story, which was clear enough already from the New Yorker piece (raising once again the question of why they published it) or (b) she’s already been inundated with so much frightening political blather from both sides, replete with death threats, that she wants no further part in this mess. She’s climbing off this national garbage scow before it floats out to sea and she’s stuck on it forever.
Dianne Feinstein had asked for another delay in Thursday’s hearing to consider Ramirez’s accusations in the New Yorker. Chuck Grassley responded this afternoon. No dice. Of note:
At first blush it’s surprising that more Democrats haven’t joined Feinstein in demanding time for Ramirez to speak, but it’s good strategy on their part not to, I think. Given how shaky Ramirez’s account is, she’d probably taint Ford’s by association. If Ford gave strong testimony and Ramirez was weak and uncertain, Republicans would try to drown out the former in the aftermath by focusing on the latter. “Why should we trust Ford’s memory, which also has gaps, more than Ramirez’s?” they’d say. And realistically there’s no scenario in which Kavanaugh gets voted down if Ford is unconvincing, no matter how convincing Ramirez might be. Everything comes down to Ford and Kavanaugh, with Ramirez’s participation a potential distraction from that. Maybe that’s why she doesn’t want to speak to Congress: Her Democratic friends might have concluded that everyone’s better off if she doesn’t.
McConnell told Senate Republicans today that he’s eyeing Monday or Tuesday for a vote on Kavanaugh — “unless something derailed it along the way,” per John Thune. That raises an interesting strategic question for Michael Avenatti and anyone else out there who may have new information that’ll damage the nominee. Is it better to try to blow him up before he’s confirmed or to let it happen and then tear him down after? The risk in waiting is that the public might tune out any allegations against Kavanaugh once he’s joined the Court. There’s suspense right now as to whether he’ll get 50 votes; if he does then the show’s over and Americans stop paying attention.
But there’s also an argument that Democrats are better off with a badly damaged Kavanaugh on the Court than with a new nominee. If he’s confirmed and then some credible charge is leveled against him, suddenly Republicans are stuck answering for why they confirmed him so quickly. Democrats will campaign on an “Impeach Kavanaugh!” plank to motivate the left to turn out. Kavanaugh *might* end up being a bit more moderate on the bench than expected, to try to placate his ardent left-wing critics. Just as him dropping out and being replaced by someone else wouldn’t be a total loss for the right, having him confirmed and operating under a cloud of suspicion wouldn’t be a total loss for the left.
I think anyone who’s thinking of coming forward will choose to do so before the vote, though. It’s human nature to want a major reward after taking a major risk, and anyone wading into this partisan sewage would in fact be taking a risk with their personal safety and serenity for years to come. If you choose to do that, chances are it’s because you want to stop him from joining the Court in the first place, knowing that the likelihood of him being removed later is remote. The next four days will determine whether the country spends the next 25 years being told by Brett Kavanaugh what it can and can’t do constitutionally. If you’ve got something on him, obviously you’d spill it now.
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