Judiciary committee will hear from Kavanaugh and accuser publicly on Monday

Judge Brett Kavanaugh and the woman who has accused him of sexual assault both will testify under oath before the Senate Judiciary Committee on Monday of next week. There was no getting around this. A number of Republican Senators demanded a public hearing, and the demand was reasonable.

As things stand now, this is a classic he-says-she-says situation. I expect both witnesses to be credible.

Conceivably, someone will discover new facts that weigh in favor of the accuser or the accused (or both). It’s also quite possible that the Democrats are holding one or more additional accusers in reserve. In the end, however, Senators likely will have to choose whom to believe without anything like conclusive proof that either main witness is lying.

Every Democrat in the Senate, with the possible exception of Joe Manchin (because he’s up for reelection), very probably will choose to believe the accuser, regardless of what happens during the hearing. It’s far from clear that every Republican member will choose to believe Kavanaugh even if his testimony is credible, as I expect it will be.

Because Kavanaugh has been categorical in his denials, if swing Republican members conclude that something must have happened, he is likely to lose those votes. The notion that there was less to the alleged incident than the accuser claims and that it happened when Kavanaugh was a teenager probably won’t be accepted by Senators like Susan Collins if they conclude that Kavanaugh’s categorical denials are untrue.

I’ve been insisting that the key here is for the nomination to proceed with as little delay as possible. The Judiciary Committee vote was scheduled for Thursday, so a Monday hearing will cause delay, I assume, but probably not much more than a week of it. That’s acceptable. In any case, there wasn’t much choice.

Once the hearing is over, the GOP leadership will have to determine quickly whether Kavanaugh’s nomination is still viable. I hope it will be. If it isn’t, the administration will have to switch promptly to Plan B — nominating another nominee and confirming him or her by the end of this year.

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