Can the stakes get any higher in the Brett Kavanaugh nomination melodrama?
Christine Blasey Ford, who credibly says that a drunken Kavanaugh tried to rape her at a suburban Washington high school pool party in 1983, is insisting that the Republican-led Senate Judiciary Committee do what it should have done in the first place when it learned of her allegation -- stop stonewalling and ask President Trump to order the FBI to investigate it. Otherwise she probably will not appear before the committee.
And so, as the end game comes into sight, Kavanaugh's catagorical denials have become the second biggest lie in Washington after Trump's protestations of innocence in the Russia scandal.
This is the end game:
Republicans refuse to order an FBI investigation, Kavanaugh slithers onto the high court and the GOP suffers the consequences in a midterm elections in which Kavanaugh is a lightning rod issue.
Or, Republicans accede to Ford, the FBI investigates her allegation and confirms it, Kavanaugh is outted as the practice liar we know him to be, and he withdraws his nomination.Events have moved at breakneck speed since The Washington Post identified Ford on Sunday and detailed her story.
On Monday, Senate Judiciary Committee chairman Charles Grassley refused to postpone a scheduled Thursday confirmation vote but then suddenly reversed field in the face of mounting protests from Democrats and women's groups, stating that Ford and Kavanaugh will give televised testimony under oath next Monday.
Grassley made this announcement after conferring with Kavanaugh but not Ford, in effect presenting her with a fait accompli. Translation: If this thing gets fucked up, it's the broad's fault, not ours.
There also was a big condition: No other witnesses would be allowed to speak, in contrast to the Clarence Thomas-Anita Hill debacle in 1971 when 21 witnesses in addition to Thomas's accuser testified.
On Tuesday, Ford's delay in accepting the Grassley invitation was gleefully seen by Republicans as the broad getting cold feet and the Sexual Predator in Chief rallied to the defense of his embattled nominee. But Ford was merely working out what the necessary "first step" should be, as she put it in a letter to the committee from the clinical psychology professor's lawyers. She would not submit to a grilling "on national television to relive this traumatic and harrowing incident" until the FBI investigated.
Democrats and women's groups demanded that other witnesses be called, in particular Matt Judge, who was Kavanaugh's accomplice, quoted Noel Coward as saying "Women should be struck, regularly, like gongs" in his high school yearbook, and is seen by Kavanaugh's allies as a "wingman from hell," in the words of one pundit, who could blow up the nomination.
Judge, who has said he doesn't remember the incident and is refusing to testify even if called, seems to be a very confused recovering alcoholic whose numerous public writings include a 2012 screed entitled "I Am a Catholic Bikini Paparazzo."
Over at the White House, officials engaged in a two-hour practice session, known colloquially as a murder board, with Kavanaugh in which he answered questions on his past, his partying, his dating and his accuser's account as the Ford defamation machine shifted into high gear.
"In the 36 hours since her name became public, Dr. Ford has received a stunning amount of support from her community and from fellow citizens across our country," the letter to the committee said. "At the same time, however, her worst fears have materialized. She has been the target of vicious harassment and even death threats. As a result of these kind of threats, her family was forced to relocate out of their home. Her email has been hacked, and she has been impersonated online."
It is important to review Ford's account of the incident, the gravity of which is receding as political machinations hog the headlines.
According to the detailed, compelling and truthful account (according to a polygraph test), a stumbling drunk Kavanaugh, then 17, attempted to rape Ford, then 15, by turning up music in an upstairs bedroom to drown out her protests, pinned her on a bed, clumsily attempted to pull off her one-piece bathing suit and the clothing she wore over it as he groped her with one hand while covering her mouth with the other hand to silence her after she screamed in the hope that someone downstairs would hear her.
Judge, a friend and classmate of Kavanaugh's, stood across the room laughing "maniacally" before he jumped on top of them, Ford tried unsuccessfully to wriggle free and then Judge jumped on them again, sending all three of them tumbling and enabling Ford to flee downstairs to safety.
Trump could order an FBI investigation with a single phone call, but as Wednesday dawned on the Potomac, the president said that it is "very hard for me to imagine anything happened" between Kavanaugh and Ford. "If she shows up, that would be wonderful. If she doesn't show up, that would be unfortunate."
Meanwhile, Republicans dug in, or perhaps dug themselves a deeper hole as the Party of Misogyny sends an unmistakable message to women, who not coincidentally support a Democratic takeover of Congress by landslide margins.Grassley put an exclamation point on all this, declaring later on Wednesday that "It is not the FBI's role to investigate a matter such as this."
There will be no FBI investigation. There will be no additional witnesses. The Monday hearing will go on with or without Ford. No alternative date will be negotiated. A confirmation vote will be taken later next week. But even if Grassley does not again relent, that confirmation vote is no longer a sure thing.