How did the Kavanaugh confirmation move so quickly despite the serious allegations?

  • I did not pay attention to the news for a few days and am completely confused now. Last I saw, Kavanaugh was in the midst of his sexual assault hearings. I thought Trump had said he would let a further investigation be done. Fast forward a few days, I check on the news again, and I am seeing headlines about Kavanaugh already being sworn in and hearing cases as a supreme court justice!

    I feel like there is a huge piece of news in the middle that is missing, yet I'm trying to Google it and all I find are articles from a few days ago about the sexual assault proceedings, about the FBI doing next to nothing for an investigation, and articles from now about Kavanaugh being sworn in and already sitting in the supreme court.

    What are we missing? How did this just get fast tracked? Where is the politics in the middle? Where is the news leading up to a vote? Since the sexual assault allegations investigation sounds like a sham according to all the articles I see (many accusations were ignored), how was this allowed to proceed?

    How did we just go from "Republicans would like this done before elections, but there will likely be a drawn-out affair with investigations and such," before the weekend to "Bam, it's all done and over with" after the weekend... what happened in between (or didn't happen that should have)?

    Preemptive disclaimer

    I am neither for nor against Trump or Kavanaugh, so this is not an "anti Kavanaugh" question, and I would prefer that we try to remain neutral. I don't know if he did or didn't do what he was accused of, and I didn't vote for either Trump or Clinton (though I did vote). But I am surprised about what just happened and am floored by the lack of proceedings between "we claim he raped us" and "he's our justice now" and am looking for the missing link.


    Thank you to everyone who provided lots of pieces of data, both as answers and as comments!

    Lots of people have criticized the answer which I ended up accepting. My acceptance of it does not in any way endorse the politics that happened which it describes. Whether or not that answer provides all the details that each side would like heard or justifies what happened is not part of my question.

    Even if you do not like what happened politically, that answer does answer my question about "How did this just happen?" Several other answers do as well, but I can only accept one.

    Maybe a little more research would have been helpful. The FBI concluded its investigation, confirming that there was no corroborating evidence of any accusation, and the Senate confirmed Kavanaugh on Saturday. The Supreme Court actually began its session last Monday, before Kavanaugh was sworn in, so he's coming right into it with the work already underway.

    @Joe Actually, it was precisely more research that lead me to believe that the FBI did **not** confirm that there was no corroborating evidence, which I briefly mentioned in the question. Unless the news is lying, the FBI ignored many claims and witnesses. They may have filed a report which stated "We confirm that..." but you cannot actually say they confirmed anything if they didn't honestly look into it. Are the news articles gross exaggerations? It wouldn't be the first time if they were, but I wasn't going to assume that was the case until I had reason to believe otherwise.

    @Aaron - We don't really know what the report said, because it was under *extreme* lockdown (which may, in fact, be normal, but that doesn't change how restrictive it is). All we know for sure (as far as I know) is that it was convincing enough to enable some of the holdouts to vote for him.

    @Bobson Interesting point. When we see in news articles that certain claims were ignored and that certain people were not spoken to, does that mean that those claims could be false? Perhaps someone assumes a certain claim was ignored, or someone claims they weren't spoken to, etc., but that all claims about what the FBI did or did not do are mostly speculation and hearsay?

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  • Machavity

    Machavity Correct answer

    3 years ago

    The situation is fairly complex so I'm not surprised it was confusing. Here's the general rundown (partially pulled from this article for brevity)

    1. Sometime in July, Ford (Kavanaugh's accuser) wrote a letter to Diane Feinstein (D-CA) with her allegation that Kavanaugh had assaulted her sometime around 1982. The letter purportedly requested anonymity and Feinstein appears to have honored that request.
    2. On September 12, The Intercept was fed the letter by an unnamed source. At this point, the confirmation process was nearly complete and the Judiciary Committee was set to hold a vote.
    3. The next few days saw rapid development of the story, as well as two less credible accusations. Ford's name was exposed and reporters interviewed people named in the letter. Democrats would start to demand hearings during this time.
    4. On September 27, both Ford and Kavanaugh testified in front of cameras and the Judiciary Committee.
    5. On September 28, the Judiciary Committe voted, entirely along party lines, to move the nomination to the Senate Floor. Senator Jeff Flake (R-AZ) asked the FBI to investigate the allegations before a final vote.
    6. On October 4 the FBI reported back. The gist of the report (not made public) is that none of any of the allegations of Ford or the other two accusers made could be substantiated. The report was criticized for many reasons, most notably that the FBI had not interviewed Ford.
    7. On October 6, Kavanaugh was confirmed 50-48

    How did this just get fast tracked? Where is the politics in the middle?

    It wasn't fast tracked. The process was nearly done (almost 2 months of interviews, investigations and meetings with Kavanaugh) when the allegations leaked. The problem for Kavanaugh opponents generally came down to

    1. The timing. There's no denying the leak was of tremendous benefit to Democrats. Prior speculation was that red-state Democrats would vote to confirm. The allegation ensured that didn't happen (with all except Manchin citing this as the reason they voted "No"). But it also meant that timing before the mid-term elections were seen as stalling for a post-election vote, when Democrats could potentially retake the Senate and block the nomination outright. There had already been attempts to stall the voting prior to this, and it was widely viewed among Republicans that this was an extension of those attempts. With Republicans in control, there was no convincing them to entertain any more delays.
    2. A lack of credible allegations. Ford was the only one of the accusers who made any allegations that could be taken seriously (the last accuser changed her story during a TV interview). She testified, with conviction, that it was Kavanaugh who had assaulted her, but nobody she named could corroborate her story, or even when it could have occurred. The FBI appears to have been unable to shed any light on when it could have happened. The other accusations had even worse credibility, with the second admitting she was quite drunk, and the third making outlandish accusations (that Kavanaugh was part of a sex ring).
    3. Ultimately, the vote on confirming Kavanaugh was about whether or not Senators, not the FBI or police, believed he was guilty of this crime. Having had additional (if criticized) background checking done was unlikely to sway too many people beyond what they had already decided. The politics were already set before the allegations.

    "Nobody she named could corroborate her story, or even when it could have occurred." Kavanaugh's calendar pretty much placed the assault on July 1st 1982 (“Timmy’s for skis with Judge, Tom, P.J. Bernie, Squi”), and when Rachel Mitchell's questioning started to make that obvious, the GOP stepped in and sidelined her.

    @RussellBorogove But Ford said that Squi (who was the person that she actually knew from that list) was not there. And of course Kavanaugh's calendar doesn't mention any girls at that party. And the idea that Rachel Mitchell was prevented from asking about that date is absurd. She asked about it because the Democrats were. Kavanaugh explained why it didn't match the party's description. She went on to ask him other questions. She had finished asking about that party and moved on well before time ran out. If you ask a question, I could post the portion of the transcript covering that.

    -1 This is a very one-sided/biased view of the situation. It completely misses the (at least) questionable statements by Kavanaugh himself and the limited FBI investigation (as requested by the white house) that took place.

    @RussellBorogove As noted here `In other words, for the July 1 theory to be correct, Ford’s previous testimony would have to be substantially incorrect.`

    @Lebbers There's no point in mentioning the quibbles with what Kavanaugh said in this question. But I did address the FBI controversy in my last point. Democrats were hoping for an endless fishing expedition that would either run out the clock or find some new point to grandstand on. Keep in mind that there was no shortage of professional reporters investigating these claims. Substantiating any of Ford's claims would have been an exceptionally great scoop *and* sunk the nomination. So saying the FBI background check (and subsequent re-check) was insufficient is incorrect.

    What kind of investigation doesn't interview the accusers or the accused? Anyone who calls an investigation like that sufficient clearly wasn't interested in the truth.

    @Machavity Read the evidence National Review (a far-right publication that engaged in birtherism, and maybe not the best response to a comment on bias) presents for that conclusion though. It mostly centers on the list of people on the calendar not being *exactly* the same as the people alleged to be there. Assuming it was even supposed to list everyone, most people wouldn't go back and correct their calendar to say someone didn't actually showed up. That leaves only the location argument which would only be ~3 miles out of the general area where it was remembered being.

    @AlexanderO'Mara The investigation was conducted by the SJC, and the accuser and accused were both questioned under oath.

    "The FBI appears to have been unable to shed any light on when it could have happened." -- that is a pretty strong statement, "unable". It was clear that the FBI *did not* shed any light the situation, but the FBI's "investigation" didn't even talk to Ford, the person who accued Kavanaugh. "unable" here reads like claiming I'm unable to pick up the pencil on my desk, and as evidence I, well, didn't try to. Which is ridiculous; I maybe unable to pick up the pencil, but if I didn't try, claiming I'm unable is unreasonable.

    @chrylis That was only a hearing though (with only 1 accuser), not a part of the investigation. That means the people who were supposedly investigating never got to ask them *even a single questions*, or ask them for any supporting evidence or witnesses names.

    A technicality on #5: Flake demanded an FBI investigation, but Trump ordered it as he was the only one that could.

    Point 6 is misleading. The FBI interviewing Ford was unnecessary as the Senate had already performed that action - her testimony at that point was already recorded and the FBI had access to it. It should also be noted that eye-witnesses were named by Ford (including her childhood friend). Each witness said they had no idea what she was talking about. Thus these allegations had zero credibility (weaker than if there were not witnesses). Any action on these allegations would be complete denial of due process.

    @Lebbers which of the 7 FBI investigations into Kavanaugh you referring to? If the last one, the FBI had already reported that the allegations were to weak to do anything.

    @Paul No, it would be misleading to pretend the senate hearing was a proper interview by investigators. It's also misleading to call his prior background checks investigations.

    @Machavity I think there's quite a difference between "endless fishing expedition" and "reasonable suspicion that Kavanaugh lied to the committee under penalty of felony" specifically when he said he had not heard of certain allegations except within the last 24 hours, and yet there are texts of him asking witnesses to back up his statement on those allegations from long before then.

    @Machavity Is National Review even allowed here? Especially considering their support of birther theories and at least previous lack of support for climate change?. It's also an *opinion* site, and thus citing it for actual news isn't really helpful. `In other words, for the July 1 theory to be correct, Ford’s previous testimony would have to be substantially incorrect.` is literally just this conservative guys opinion, there's no authority here. the CNN article it links is hard to find, but it doesn't paint any clear picture about anything. (search CNN brett-kavanaugh-july-1-theory to find)

    @opa If you have some issues with the source, post some refutation. There's plenty of places to question stuff. Second, I'm not sure why you had a hard time finding the CNN article. It's linked from that article directly. Third, if we're going to disallow sites that allow opinions, that would include sites like CNN, NYT, etc. Lastly, your statement that it's just French's opinion is *your opinion*. He cites reasons why July 1 couldn't be the day, based on Ford's testimony. Instead of refuting you hand wave it away.

    @Machavity 1. not the point, there appears to have been some effort to present an opinion piece *as a news source **when it clearly was not***. Would be same story if it said: "in other words, in order for the theory to be wrong Kavanaugh would have to explain a lot of circumstantial evidence". Neither is particularly insightful beyond the authors opinion, giving it the legitimacy of a news organization makes these kind of statements seem more powerful than they actually are, 2. NR is not beholden to *any* laws related to news organization. 3. I cannot access that article directly

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