Here Comes the Judge
(Door Hugo Kijne te Hoboken USA)
The week started with in retrospect almost routine issues. In the days after Trump fired James Comey at his recommendation Rod Rosenstein apparently had seller’s remorse and discussed secretly taping the president and the possibility of invoking the 25th Amendment with some of his colleagues. Last week the New York Times reported on those conversations, and the expectation was that the Deputy AG would resign or that Trump would fire him, in spite of Rosenstein’s statement that it had just been his wry sense of humor in action. Trump could not immediately discuss the matter with Rosenstein because he was in New York to address the General Assembly of the United Nations on Tuesday morning. With one of the most bizarre speeches ever delivered by an American president from that podium Trump got the whole world laughing when he boasted about the accomplishments of his administration. Slightly surprised the president eventually started laughing too, as if deep down inside he realizes what a bullshit artist he is. It gave him the opportunity to declare at a press conference later in the day that the UN delegates had not been laughing at him but with him, and that the whole incident had been a sign that America is respected by the rest of the world again.
A meeting of Trump with Rosenstein was scheduled for Thursday, but it had to wait because that day the Senate Judiciary Committee held a hearing with Dr. Christine Blasey-Ford and Judge Brett Kavanaugh about Dr. Ford’s accusation that Kavanaugh had tried to rape her as a teenager, and Trump wanted to watch. First Dr. Ford shared that painful experience and the damage it had done to her with the committee in an emotional, dignified and compelling way, and then it was Kavanaugh’s turn. The judge came out of the gate swinging. Screaming and crying he declared his innocence and accused the Democrats of being on a ‘search and destroy’ mission, in an attempt to avenge Hillary Clinton’s loss in the 2016 election. It soon became clear that Kavanaugh was performing for an audience of one, the president who had nominated him for the Supreme Court, but even Fox News estimated that Trump would not be pleased, because although he likes denials and fighting back the president is not a big fan of crybabies. Eventually though the solidarity between two sexual assaulters was stronger than Trump’s disdain for weakness, and he expressed his appreciation for Kavanaugh’s failed attempt to present himself as a mini-Trump, promising him his continued support.
In spite of many unanswered questions and Kavanaugh’s stubborn rejection of invitations to ask the White House for a further investigation of the allegations against him - as an innocent man would have done - Republicans were planning to plow ahead. Chairman Grassley scheduled a committee vote on Friday morning and Mitch McConnell wanted to have a floor vote on Kavanaugh’s confirmation in the senate next Tuesday. And then Jeff Flake threw a wrench into the Majority Leader’s machine. Before the committee vote he asked for a one week delay of a floor vote to allow the FBI to re-open its background investigation into Kavanaugh, suggesting that otherwise the judge would not get his vote.
Because it soon became clear that without granting Flake’s request there would not be enough votes to get Kavanaugh confirmed McConnell caved, and the Republicans asked the White House to direct the FBI accordingly. A continued investigation could sink Kavanaugh’s nomination, because the judge has refused to answer many critical questions, which will now be asked by FBI agents who won’t accept his refusals. Most importantly, the FBI will question Mark Judge, per Dr. Ford’s testimony the only witness of the assault on her but possibly also Kavanaugh’s partner in other debaucheries.
Worried about the possible outcomes of a complete investigation the White House has restricted the FBI probe to only two accusations of sexual misconduct, and allows only a limited number of witnesses to be questioned. This way the investigation will be a cover up rather than a search for the truth, and it’s up to Flake and other senators to make sure they’re not being bamboozled. Meanwhile Rod Rosenstein has to wait until next week, or maybe Trump has forgotten about him altogether, because the hearings made for fascinating television and that’s what the president lives for.
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