Republicans scrambling to respond to Christine Blasey Ford’s detailed sexual assault allegations against their Supreme Court nominee quickly formulated a response: Offer to let Ford testify. Then, when she doesn’t have the guts to do it, declare the case settled. “This gambit basically bets that she will decline,” reports Axios this morning, “and Republicans can then say that they tried to investigate further.”
Also this morning, Ford’s lawyer tells CNN she is willing to testify publicly before the Senate. Okay, she has the guts. On to plan B.
There is another point of vulnerability for Kavanaugh’s nomination that is only beginning to come into focus. In support of his nomination, Republicans located 65 women who knew the nominee as a young man to publicly attest to his character. At the time, the number of witnesses was a point in Kavanaugh’s favor. But none of them were in the room when he allegedly assaulted Ford. Politico attempted to find them to see if they stand behind their comments in light of Ford’s testimony. More than two dozen of them did not immediately respond, and two who were located declined to comment.
Now, the sheer number of women on the list is a glaring weakness in the defense. If even one of them withdraws her support, after having been elevated as a character witness, it becomes a major liability. There might be a slow bleed-out of Kavanaugh’s list of 65 over the next several days. Meanwhile we are facing the spectacle of televised hearings, and the all-male Republican Senate Judiciary committee scrutinizing a woman with a credible allegation of sexual assault, against the backdrop of a party that is finding itself increasingly unable to wash off the stink of Trump.