The U.S. Supreme Court kicked off its fall term this morning, but most eyes were on the empty seat. Heading into a packed season of cases, the biggest question isn't how the justices will handle their cases, but who will be with them when they do?
Senate Democrats are willing to do anything to keep the Court from returning to its constitutional moorings -- including setting fire to an innocent man's reputation. In less than two weeks, they turned Brett Kavanaugh's lifetime of service and legal accomplishment into a smoldering pile of ash -- using a 36-year-old sexual assault claim that not a single person can substantiate. Rachel Mitchell, the special prosecutor at the Senate hearing, looked at all of the evidence from last week's testimony and concluded that the "he said, she said" accusations from 1982 would normally be "incredibly difficult to prove." But, she went on, "this case is even weaker than that."
"I do not think that a reasonable prosecutor would bring this case based on the evidence before the Committee," Mitchell wrote in a nine-page memo to Republicans on the Judiciary Committee. "Nor do I believe that this evidence is sufficient to satisfy the preponderance-of-the-evidence standard." Despite Dr. Christine Ford's insistence that Kavanaugh was her attacker, Mitchell points out that her story has no corroboration. She "has not offered a consistent account of when the alleged assault happened," has "struggled" to identify Kavanaugh by name and has "no memory of key details" regarding the event.
Despite the holes in Dr. Ford's story, the Senate GOP agreed to demands for another FBI investigation late Friday. Turns out, even that isn't good enough for Democrats! After getting the very thing they said they wanted, Senate liberals turned their attention to phase two: discrediting the FBI's methods. Senator Orrin Hatch (R-Utah) could only shake his head at the absurdity of it all on Twitter:
All across the weekend talk shows, Senate liberals took that new approach to delaying Kavanaugh -- casting doubt on the bureau's parameters. "Based on some of the reports we've seen... I'm very concerned about this because the White House should not be allowed to micromanage an FBI investigation," Sen. Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.) said on CNN. Hawaii Democratic Sen. Mazie Hirono helped move the goalposts even farther on ABC's "This Week." Asked whether she thought it would be a "credible investigation," Hirono replied, "That's the big outstanding question." "...[T]o limit the FBI as to the scope and who they're going to question, that, that really -- I wanted to use the word farce -- but that's not the kind of investigation that all of us are expecting the FBI to conduct."
Pete Yachmetz, a former FBI agent who has vast experience in high level background checks, joined me on "Washington Watch" this afternoon to talk about what a seventh background investigation of Kavanaugh might look like. And most importantly, whether it would resolve anything.
Pete explained that there would be an intense review of the background checks that had already been done. But he said, "I believe there's a severe misunderstanding of the procedure of exactly what the bureau is going to do and won't do. This is not going to be a criminal investigation. There's no sitting grand jury, no subpoenas. Agents can't even force you to talk if they ring your doorbell... In all likelihood... agents are going to re-interview accusers with an eye toward corroboration and credibility. A comparison is going to be done." But, he warned:
"It's highly unlikely that they're going to find anything that they haven't found six previous time. If you were going to redo a single background investigation, perhaps they could miss something. If they did it twice, then I'd say perhaps you missed something. But if they went back and did it six times... in my opinion, it's highly unlikely that they're gonna find any credibility to those accusations and they're not going to be able to corroborate it."
Republicans, meanwhile, have questions of their own for the FBI, like: who leaked Dr. Ford's letter to the press? Senator Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) insisted that the GOP wasn't about to let that one go. "We're going to do a wholesale, full-scale investigation of what I think was a despicable process to deter it from happening again," he said.
For now, at least one thing is obvious. Democrats aren't interested in the FBI's findings. They're interested in delaying Kavanaugh's nomination. If that means throwing the agency under the bus to hold up the vote even longer, so be it. In the end, nothing will satisfy them unless Kavanaugh withdraws -- a satisfaction, I'm sure, he has no intention of giving them.
Tony Perkins' Washington Update is written with the aid of Family Research Center's senior writers.