Since taking over three weeks ago as chairman for the Senate Judiciary Committee, Sen. Lindsey Graham has already staked out several key priorities for the committee. The list will please conservatives: confirm more judges and investigate the Department of Justice (DOJ) and FBI for their handling of the Russia collusion investigation, the Hillary Clinton email investigation, and the use of Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) to obtain a warrant to surveil former Trump campaign aid Carter Page.
Yet Graham has so far omitted an equally significant area of inquiry for the Senate Judiciary Committee: the possible criminal conduct undertaken to thwart the confirmation of now-Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh.
Was There Criminal Conduct in the Kavanaugh Debacle?
The public may have quickly forgotten the month-long spectacle that began after news broke on September 12, 2017—five days after the Senate Judiciary Committee had concluded hearings on Kavanaugh’s nomination—that an unnamed woman had sent Sen. Dianne Feinstein a letter accusing Kavanaugh of sexual misconduct. The following day, Feinstein, the top Democrat on the Senate Judiciary Committee, issued a terse press release confirming that she had “received information from an individual concerning the nomination of Brett Kavanaugh to the Supreme Court.”
Feinstein’s three-sentence statement provided no details, asserting that the accuser had requested confidentiality. Feinstein added that she had “referred the matter to federal investigative authorities.”
Ford then outed herself to The Washington Post as the author of the letter, with the newspaper reporting Ford’s claim that Kavanaugh had sexually assaulted her while the two were in high school on February 16. Then-Senate Judiciary Committee Chair Chuck Grassley immediately sought to interview Ford, but her attorneys kept Ford under wraps until September 27, when Ford testified under oath before the committee.
Between the time Ford first detailed her charges against Kavanaugh in her letter to Feinstein (dated July 31, 2018) and her late-September testimony to the Senate Judiciary Committee, many of the details changed. As sex crimes prosecutor Rachel Mitchell explained in the report she drafted after questioning Ford on behalf of Republicans on the Judiciary Committee, Ford provided inconsistent accounts concerning nearly every aspect of the alleged assault.
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