On Monday, just 72 hours from sitting in front of the Senate Judiciary Committee to respond to allegations of sexual assault from a California professor named Christine Blasey Ford, Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh laid out a new line of defense: This isn't even about me.
"These are smears, pure and simple. And they debase our public discourse," Kavanaugh wrote in a letter to the Senate Judiciary Committee on Monday. "But they are also a threat to any man or woman who wishes to serve our country. Such grotesque and obvious character assassination -- if allowed to succeed -- will dissuade competent and good people of all political persuasions from service."
Christine Blasey Ford
Crime, law enforcement and corrections
Crimes against persons
Government and public administration
Government organizations - US
Political Figures - US
Sex and gender issues
That's a very interesting strategy -- given the personal nature of the allegations against Kavanaugh. One, from Blasey Ford, alleges that the Supreme Court nominee laid on top of her and tried to remove her bathing suit when they were both teenagers. The other, from a woman named Debra Ramirez, alleges that Kavanaugh exposed himself to her when they were both freshmen in college.
Kavanaugh has vehemently denied both accusations and repeatedly expressed his willingness to answer his accusers -- which he will get to do, at least in regard to Blasey Ford's claims, on Thursday in Washington. (Blasey Ford is set to testify before Kavanaugh in front of the committee, an order that allows Kavanaugh to hear what she says and then presumably rebut).
His new tact aims to play into an increasingly voluble Republican message that if someone like Kavanaugh can be disqualified by unproven, so-called last minute allegations, then no person of any merit will step forward for these sort of jobs.
"Well, it's amazing to me that these allegations come out of nowhere at the last minute and that they weren't brought up earlier in this process," said Sen. Orrin Hatch, R-Utah, on Monday. "And it's not untypical for our friends on the other side to pull that kind of crap."
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said much the same on the Senate floor Monday. "Senate Democrats and their allies are trying to destroy a man's personal and professional life on the basis of decades-old allegations that are unsubstantiated and uncorroborated," said McConnell.
This is all an attempt by Republicans to indict the process by which we have come to this point. To paint the Kavanaugh accusers' words as nothing more than an attempt by Democrats to "smear" a good man. This is about Brett Kavanaugh today, the argument goes, but tomorrow it could be about you. So, beware.
The Point: This has turned into an even bigger mud fight than it started out as. And it's only going to get worse.
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