Contrary to what random people on the Internet will tell you, this is not a matter of everyone’s opinion being of fair and equal weight. Experienced legal practitioners know that there are basic criteria for what makes a witness believable. Ford met virtually all of them. If a lawyer tells you otherwise, they are lying for partisan reasons.
I’m less interested this morning in her credibility, however, and more interested in the credibility of Brett Kavanaugh. Based on yesterday’s hearing that, likewise, should be pretty uncontroversial. He’s a liar. He lied repeatedly about things big and small, both yesterday and while under oath several years ago. To wit:
- During his 2004 confirmation hearings for a seat on the D.C. Circuit, Kavanaugh was asked about his role as a White House staffer in the effort to get judge William Pryor confirmed for a different appeals court seat. He lied about that;
- He lied about his involvement in and knowledge of the “Memogate” scandal of 2001-2003 in which two Republican staffers gained unauthorized access to the private computer files of six Democratic senators regarding judicial nominees;
- He almost certainly lied about his knowledge of the bad acts of his former boss and mentor, the disgraced judge Alex Kozinski, whose sexual harassment and the distribution of sexually-explicit material to his friends and employees was “legendary” among those who knew him or worked for him;
- During yesterday’s hearing he testified that he did not watch Christine Ford’s testimony. That was a lie.
- He clearly lied about the meaning of the “Renate Alumni” reference in his high school yearbook, which was an act of crude slut-shaming he now laughably contends was benign;
- He likewise lied about crude slang also included in his high school yearbook, trying to make sexual innuendo that was more than questionable at the time and simply unacceptable in polite company now into something it clearly was not;
- He lied that a reference to throwing up during notoriously booze-filled high school trips to the beach was about eating spicy food when it was clearly about binge-drinking;
- He lied multiple times when he claimed that witnesses “refuted” Christine Ford’s stories. One of those witnesses, in fact, says she believes Ford’s allegations against Kavanaugh. He mischaracterized her testimony — overstating it in misleading fashion — in a way that, were this an actual trial, could quite possibly lead to perjury charges;
- He likewise lied when he claimed his high school friend Mark Judge offered an “affidavit under threat of perjury” to support his side of the story. Judge’s statement was an unsworn one in a letter signed by his lawyer, consisting of no testimonial weight whatsoever. Judge, as I noted yesterday, has gone into hiding and Republicans refused to call him as a witness;
- Multiple senators questioned Kavanaugh about his drinking habits, both as a teenager and in the present, prompting awkward and telling exchanges, silences, dodges and deflections. It is plain to anyone with any familiarity with drinking and drinkers that he was lying about his history and experience with alcohol.
Some of these matters may seem, in isolation, to be trivial. In context, however, they are anything but. The sort of person Brett Kavanaugh was as a high school student has direct bearing on the very serious and heinous act of which he is being accused and his lies about such matters — his drinking, his attitude toward and treatment of women — have a direct bearing on his credibility. That he would blatantly lie about such matters is damning and utterly destroys the credibility of his denials. While there is not enough evidence to bring criminal sexual assault charges against Kavanaugh, there is plenty of reason to believe he lied repeatedly in an effort to get out from under the accusations, suggesting that he did, in fact, do what Christine Ford said he did.
Even short of that, however, his lies are disqualifying in and of themselves. He’s a lawyer. He’s a judge. He’s poised to become one of the nine most powerful jurists in the nation. A single lie about even a trivial matter under oath would place any attorney’s license in jeopardy and say damning things about his credibility and ethics as an attorney. Multiple lies from a man who wishes to serve on the Supreme Court are inexcusable and would, at any other time in out nation’s history, ensure the failure of his nomination.
Yet Kavanaugh will likely be confirmed. He will be confirmed because Republicans do not care that he lied. They do not care about anything other than a political victory and control of the Supreme Court and they will countenance perjury and, it seems very likely, attempted rape, in order to get it.
I defy any person — especially any lawyer — to make a case for Brett Kavanaugh’s credibility and fitness to be a Supreme Court justice in light of his lies and, yes, his perjury. I defy them to do it without reference to broad political talking points, ends-justify-the-means rationalizations and tu quoque reasoning. I do not think it can be done. At least not if one is being intellectually honest. Even the Republicans with whom I engage on social media and who, normally, will make an effort to argue that white is black until the position is no longer tenable are not even making the effort, likely because they know they cannot do so.
You will likely get your Supreme Court justice, Republicans. But you are getting it at the price of your soul. And you are certainly getting it at the cost of my respect for you. Now and forever going forward.