It looks like I spoke too soon when I said that the Kavanaugh confirmation process never reached the nauseating lows of the Bork and Thomas hearings. The Washington Times reports that Sen. Dianne Feinstein has asked federal investigators to probe a secret complaint about Kavanaugh. The complaint, reportedly lodged by woman, pertains to an incident that supposedly occurred when Kavanaugh and the women were in high school.
The woman passed her complaint to Rep. Anna Eshoo, a California Democrat. She apparently is unwilling to come forward publicly to talk about the alleged incident. Buzzfeed contacted the woman rumored to have lodged the complaint. She refused to comment.
The Anita Hill ambush of Clarence Thomas was bad enough. But at least Hill was willing to stand publicly behind her claims. And at least those claims, though not coming close to stating a case of sexual harassment, were less than a decade old.
A spokesman for Senate Judiciary Committee chairman Charles Grassley said that Grassley is aware of the referral. He added that “there is no plan to change the committee’ consideration of Judge Kavanaugh’s nomination.”
Nor should there be. No nomination should be derailed by ancient claims of misconduct made by someone who is unwilling publicly to state them. In an era where partisans try to bribe Senators into voting against a nominee, it will always be possible to find someone willing to make secret allegations of misconduct from the distant past.
Indeed, there’s no reason why the FBI, which has vetted Kavanaugh multiple times since 1993, should investigate a claim pertaining to an event that may have occurred 35 years ago, when Kavanaugh was a teenager. If Kavanaugh committed a crime, the time to accuse him was decades ago. If he didn’t commit a crime, who cares what happened when he was in high school?
UPDATE: We will probably be writing more about this last-minute ambush of Kavanaugh with information the Democrats reportedly have had for a few months.
For now, I want to clarify something I said about Anita Hill. Although she eventually testified about the sexual comments then-Judge Thomas allegedly made, Hill had no desire to stand behind her claims either.
Initially, she did exactly what this anonymous person is doing: after basically being “outed” by Susan Hirschner to a Senate staffer, she told Sen. Metzenbaum the story, but insisted that she did not want to tell it to the FBI or say anything about it on the record. Hill wanted her anonymous allegations to lead to Judge Thomas’s nomination being withdrawn.
It was only when she was told by Sen. Biden’s staff that she could not stop the nomination by proceeding anonymously, and when she concluded that someone (e.g. Hirschner or a Metzenbaum staffer) was likely to leak her allegations anyway, that she agreed to talk to the FBI.