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Something Is Up

There’s something very odd going on in this Senate hearing room. It appears that Senator Flake, who had come out in Kavanaugh’s favor this morning, has been having “discussions” with Sen. Chris Coons and seemingly having some second thoughts about his choice. It’s really not clear what he’s doing. But they were supposed to vote at 1:30 PM. They’ve now gone past that time. There are a few possibilities. One is that he’s changed his position. That seems hard to believe. But possibly he has moved toward insisting on some kind of investigation. We don’t know. But there’s clearly some hitch.

The Most Shocking Findings in Yesterday's Drama

Yesterday was a compendium of so many things in our public life. There are too many things that could be said about it. Let me start now with one observation on the entirety of the day and what I think was the most critical development in terms of specific new evidence that really demands some investigation.

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The Rancid Heart

Lindsey Graham, who is now showing his worst and true side, said this about the Kavanaugh decision: “Ms. Ford has a problem and destroying Judge Kavanaugh’s life won’t fix her problem.”

Pivotal Moment

Kavanaugh’s testimony and questioning were almost entirely heat and little light. This was the pivotal moment in my mind for what it revealed.

This meanwhile was Kavanaugh clearly and transparently lying to the committee.

Kavanaugh's Remarks

Quick thoughts on Brett Kavanaugh’s opening statement. To me he seemed more unhinged than forceful. It had been telegraphed that he wanted to show more emotion than he had in earlier testimony. He certainly managed that. He testimony seemed openly partisan, showing his roots as more of a political operative than a jurist. His testimony was almost the definition of someone who lacks a judicial temperament. For all this though I also know I was not the intended audience. For that audience of Republican senators and Republican voters I do think he went some way to at least stabilizing the catastrophic damage he suffered this morning.

I think he quickly lost ground in his only questioning from Democrats. Yelling works better in a statement of defense than it does in a question and answer with a senator. Feinstein asked a straightforward question. He did not answer it.

Another point. There were various moments, bread crumbs spread through the statement that suggested Kavanaugh does not think he’ll ever make it to the Supreme Court. And I think this assumption shaped his testimony. He looked like someone cuing up another career.

Blasey Ford's Shining Moment; Grassley's Catastrophe

I have, so far, had an odd exposure to today’s testimony. I had to be out of the office and offline for most of the late morning, notwithstanding the gravity and newsworthiness of the day. I saw the first fifteen or twenty minutes of Blasey Ford’s testimony. Then I returned for the last round of questioning of Blasey Ford from Rachel Mitchell, the sex crimes prosecutor from Arizona.

Everything I’ve heard about what came between confirms me in my reaction to those two portions of the hearing.

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Devastating

During this first break in the hearing, a quick survey of the media reaction suggests (i) a near universal* sympathy toward Christine Blasey Ford, who appeared poised, credible, sincere and compelling; and (ii) that even Fox News observers see this as devastating testimony for Senate Republicans still trying to push through the Kavanaugh nomination.

*Conservative Twitter was predictably ugly. More soon on that …

Disjointed Mess

The list of things wrong with the Senate Judiciary Committee’s approach to the Kavanaugh allegations is long, but this pingponging back and forth between the GOP’s outside counsel and Democratic senators is bonkers. For those not watching, it’s making for a fragmented, disjointed, jarring hearing. It’s just another layer to the indefensible process that the majority cobbled together to try to minimize the risks to the Kavanaugh nomination.

Minor Note

Here’s a minor note on a day of major news. President Trump has no meeting with Rod Rosenstein listed on his schedule today. No big secret here. He said yesterday in his press conference that he might ask Rosenstein to postpone their meeting because of the big events on Capitol Hill. He also said he’d prefer to keep Rosenstein on and suggested he believed his denials of the details of The New York Times story that triggered this latest drama.

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