The Senate Republicans caved and Donald Trump just announced that the FBI will conduct a weeklong, limited edition, Cliff Notes, truncated, highly abbreviated investigation into Dr. Christine Blasey Ford’s allegations that Brett Kavanaugh sexually assaulted her in 1982.
Slow clap for Arizona Sen. Jeff Flake. He was trying to cover his general cowardice, but his poor man’s John McCain impression may only delay Kavanaugh by a week and still have him on the court by the midterms.
Much as I want to critique Democrats in Thursday’s hearing coming off like first-year law students in Annalise’s Keating’s How to Let a Rich White Guy Get Away with Murder class, this was always going to come down to the Republicans. However, it didn’t have to. In fact, with one decision by Blasey Ford, Kavanaugh would not be measuring his Boof hole for a seat on the Supreme Court right now. All it would have taken was one phone call to Sen. Kamala Harris.
Let me start by saying this will not be one of those Yassss Queen + Black Girl Magic + K-Hive monologues about how Sen. Harris is the best thing to come out of California since The Chronic 2001. I have plenty of criticism for Harris’ record, however what cannot be disputed is that she is likely the smartest prosecutor on the Senate Judiciary Committee, if not the entire Senate. Further, she’s a shrewd politician with serious 2020 aspirations. So how could she have made Brett Kavanaugh go away? Let’s go back to the halcyon days of July 30 when Blasey Ford first reached out about her story.
When Kavanaugh’s name came to national attention on the short list of Supreme Court justice finalists in Donald Trump’s Apprentice: Russian Invasion Edition, Blasey Ford realized how close her alleged former attacker was to actually sitting on the highest court in the land. She reached out to her Congresswoman Anna Eshoo (D-Calif.), then sent a letter detailing her story to both Eshoo and senior California Sen. Dianne Feinstein on July 30. Feinstein promised Blasey Ford to keep the letter a secret. Then in late September, right before the committee vote for Kavanaugh was to be scheduled either a) Feinstein’s office leaked the letter or b) Someone else leaked the existence of the letter to the press, forcing Blasey Ford to speak to the press and eventually call for an FBI investigation and a hearing. According to The Intercept it played out something like this:
All of which resulted in Thursday’s hearings, which forced every sexual assault victim in America to be gaslit for eight hours while Kavanaugh threw a temper tantrum, only for us to potentially face the entire scenario again once the FBI is done re-investigating him. However, let me hit with you an alternative history. Now, in your best ESPN 30 for 30 voice: What if I told you, California had TWO senators not ONE?
Imagine if Blasey Ford had reached out to Sen. Harris’ office first, or if Rep. Eshoo had referred her to Harris instead of Feinstein? Harris, as an accomplished former attorney general and likely 2020 presidential candidate, would have likely handled this much better than Feinstein, who seemed like she never knew what to do with the silver bullet in her hand. Sen. Harris would have realized the political significance of a woman accusing a potential Supreme Court nominee of assault and the good government aspect of protecting a sexual assault victim instead of worrying about looking like a partisan—which was what was likely foremost on Feinstein’s mind.
My guess is Kamala Harris would have done two things: She would have promised to protect Blasey Ford’s identity and would have pledged to keep her out of the public spotlight unless Kavanaugh went from short list to actual nominee—a much more realistic promise than Feinstein going all Alicia Keys and claiming “I’ll keep your secrets” no matter what. Next, Harris would have walked Blasey Ford to the nearest FBI field office in California’s 18th District. Why? Sexual assault is not a federal crime, there is no statute of limitations and the local FBI office would have been legally bound to document Blasey Ford’s complaint, providing a paper trail and eliminating future accusations that Harris or anybody else was sitting on the story to use later for maximum effect. So long as the local Special Agent in Charge deemed Blasey Ford’s story credible, California’s FBI would have been doing their due diligence since July. You can just imagine Harris in all of her memed glory putting Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Chuck Grassley on three-way with Blasey Ford.
“Hey guess where I am? No clue? I’m at the FBI field office in San Francisco with a woman who says she was sexually assaulted by Brett Kavanaugh and Mark Judge in 1982. The local agents have already begun their investigation. Just thought you should know. K. Bye.”
At this point, Grassley would be stuck; he could’ve told Trump to choose another nominee because Kavanaugh was under investigation by the FBI for assault. Or ram the nomination through anyway, hoping he could get the vote done before the FBI finished investigating. The problem is Harris would have held all the cards. If Kavanaugh had dropped out, she wins. If Grassley tried to push it through, she announces to the Senate:
“The man before you is under investigation for sexual assault, and Chuck Grassley pushed him through even though I told him about it months ago. By the way, I have a witness. K. Bye.”
I don’t know if that’s a Devil’s Triangle or not but I’m pretty sure both Chuck Grassley and Brett Kavanaugh would have been screwed. Further, cowards like Jeff Flake and potential turncoats like Joe Manchin (D-W.V.), Susan Collins (R-Maine) and Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska) would have their cover. It’s much easier to postpone a vote for an investigation that is already ongoing that it is to call for an investigation at the 11th hour and face the wrath of your colleagues behind closed doors like what happened on Friday.
Mind you, this is all hypothetical; it would’ve required Blasey Ford reaching out to Harris first and Harris making some brilliant decisions that I’m absolutely sure she would have made. Which would have meant at worst, we’d be right back where we are today with a delayed vote pending an investigation but more likely Kavanaugh never would’ve been selected; Chuck Grassley isn’t that bold.
I’m not blaming Blasey Ford—she was doing her civic duty and being very brave in sharing her story, not being strategic. I’m not necessarily blaming Dianne Feinstein for not being strategic enough. I’m simply saying that Harris is smarter, more savvy and understands the nuances of the law better that Feinstein and could have been a hero in this sorted story. I swore this wouldn’t become a Yasssss Queen + Black Girl Magic fest, but isn’t the lesson of the Trump administration to #TrustBlackWomen? When it comes to trusting black women to take down an angry, privileged white man, there would have been no better option than Kamala Harris.