As likely the deciding vote on the confirmation of Brett Kavanaugh (an avowed and experienced partisan operative who repeatedly perjured himself and was credibly accused of sexual assault) to the Supreme Court, Susan Collins gave what was most likely the most dishonest speech of her career as a supposed “moderate” politician:
As Collins went point-by-point casting doubt on Ford’s claims, her male colleagues could not suppress their pleasure. Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) nodded along approvingly. Sitting next to him, Sen. Tom Cotton (R-AR) offered up a cheshire cat grin. When Collins finally announced that she would be casting a yes vote, the two men exchanged the subtlest of fist bumps.
Susan Collins may have earned fist bumps, but in doing so, she strung a web of falsehoods and omissions:
She referenced the American Bar Association’s past recommendation of Brett Kavanaugh:
“Judge Kavanaugh has received rave reviews for his 12-year track record as a judge, including for his judicial temperament. The American Bar Association gave him its highest possible rating. Its standing committee on the federal judiciary conducted an extraordinarily thorough assessment, soliciting input from almost 500 people, including his judicial colleagues. The ABA concluded that his integrity, judicial temperament and professional competence met the highest standards.”
But she ignored the fact that the American Bar Association has re-opened their evaluation due to concerns about Kavanaugh’s temperament.
She stated her belief that Supreme Court Justices should be non-partisan:
“I have always opposed litmus tests for judicial nominees with respect to their personal views or politics, but I fully expect them to be able to put aside any and all personal preferences in deciding the cases that come before them.”
But she ignored the fact that Brett Kavanaugh showed his extreme partisan views in his testimony.
She unironically mentioned Merrick Garland:
“That Judge Kavanaugh is more of a centrist than some of his critics maintain is reflected in the fact that he and Chief Judge Merrick Garland voted the same way in 93 percent of the cases that they heard together. Indeed, Chief Judge Garland joined in more than 96 percent of the majority opinions authored by Judge Kavanaugh, dissenting only once.”
But she failed to note that Merrick Garland had been prevented from even receiving a hearing after he was nominated for the Supreme Court, because of her own party’s obstruction.
She stated that the sexual assault accusations should be treated as a legal process:
“But certain fundamentally legal principles about due process, the presumption of innocence, and fairness do bear on my thinking, and I cannot abandon them.”
She stated that she was concerned about the public’s faith in the judiciary:
“I worry that departing from this presumption could a lead to a lack of public faith in the judiciary”
But she failed to note that the public has less faith in Brett Kavanaugh than any Supreme Court nominee since polling of nominees began. Nor did she mention that a former Supreme Court Justice opposed Kavanaugh’s confirmation specifically because he was worried about how it would affect the public’s faith in the judiciary.
She dismissed allegations as “outlandish” that Brett Kavanaugh took part in drugging women so that they would submit to sexual assault:
“I am thinking in particular not at the allegations raised by professor Ford, but of the allegations that when he was a teenager Judge Kavanaugh drugged multiple girls and used their weakened state to facility gang rape. This outlandish allegation was put forth without any credible supporting evidence and simply parroted public statements of others.”
But she failed to mention that some of Brett Kavanaugh’s high school friends made reference to such a thing in their yearbooks. Nor did she mention that women being drugged so that they would submit to sexual assault is unfortunately not uncommon at all.
She stated that the statements from four potentially corroborating witnesses to Dr. Ford’s testimony absolved Brett Kavanaugh:
“The four witnesses she named could not corroborate any of the events of that evening gathering where she says the assault occurred. None of the individuals Prof. Ford says were at the party has any recollection at all of that night. Judge Kavanaugh forcefully denied the allegations under penalty of perjury. Mark Judge denied under penalty of felony that he had witnessed an assault. P.J. Smith, another person allegedly at the party, denied that he was there under penalty of felony. Professor Ford’s lifelong friend, Leland Kaiser, indicated that under penalty of felony she does not remember that party. And Ms. Kaiser went further. She indicated that not only does she not remember a night like that, but also that she does not even know Brett Kavanaugh.”
But she failed to mention that 2 of the 4 were named as assailants, so were defending against their own possible incrimination. Nor did she mention that 1 of the 4 stated that she believed Dr. Ford.
She referenced the #MeToo movement and how survivors need to be listened to:
“Every person, man or woman, who makes a charge of sexual assault deserves to be heard and treated with respect. The #MeToo movement is real. It matters. It is needed. And it is long overdue.
We know that rape and sexual assault are less likely to be reported to the police than other forms of assault. On average, an estimated 211,000 rapes and sexual assaults go unreported every year. We must listen to survivors, and every day we must seek to stop the criminal behavior that has hurt so many. We owe this to ourselves, our children, and generations to come.”
But she did this after trying to poke holes in Dr. Ford’s testimony over such things as her ride home, and by inferring that because others might not have remembered a night in which they were not sexually assaulted, that means the night in which Dr. Ford was sexually assaulted may have never happened:
“Furthermore the professor testified that although she does not remember how she got home that evening, she knew that because of the distance she would have needed a ride. Yet, not a single person has come forward to say that they were the ones who drove her home or were in the car with her that night.
And Prof. Ford also indicated that even though she left that small gathering of six or so people abruptly, and without saying goodbye, and distraught, none of them called her the next day or ever to ask why she left. “Is she okay?” Not even her closest friend, Ms. Kaiser.”
Then, after trying to offer the fact that Dr. Ford’s friend did not know of the sexual assault as being proof against Dr. Ford’s testimony, she stated that she herself had not previously known that friends of hers had been sexually assaulted:
“Since the hearing, I have listened to many survivors of sexual assault. Many were total strangers who told me their heart-wrenching stories for the first time in their lives. Some were friends that I had known for decades. Yet with the exception of one woman who had confided in me years ago, I had no idea that they had been the victims of sexual attacks.”
She claimed that Dr. Ford’s testimony had been treated with respect by the Senate Judiciary Committee:
“I have also heard some argue that the chairman of the committee somehow treated Prof. Ford unfairly. Nothing could be further from the truth. Chairman Grassley along with his excellent staff treated Prof. Ford with compassion and respect throughout the entire process. And that is the way the senator from Iowa has conducted himself throughout a lifetime dedicated to public service.”
But she failed to note that all 11 of the GOP Senators on the committee had granted heir time to a prosecutor to question Dr. Ford, but only 2 GOP Senators granted their time to the prosecutor to question Brett Kavanaugh.
She lamented the partisanship that had overtaken this Supreme Court Nomination:
“We live in a time of such great disunity as the bitter fight over this nomination both in the Senate and among the public clearly demonstrates. It is not merely a case of differing groups having different opinions. It is a case of people bearing extreme ill will toward those who disagree with them. In our intense focus on our differences, we have forgotten the common values that bind us together as Americans.
It is particularly worrisome that the Supreme Court, the institution that most Americans see as the principle guardian of our shared constitutional heritage is viewed as part of the problem through a political lens. “
But she failed to mention that the nomination process had become so partisan in part because her own Senate Majority Leader had eliminated the 60 vote rule, allowing for Supreme Court Justices to be confirmed without support from the other party.
She professed her hope that Brett Kavanaugh would lessen divisions:
“Despite the turbulent, bitter fight surrounding his nomination, my fervent hope is that Brett Kavanaugh will work to lessen the divisions in the Supreme Court so that we have far fewer 5 to 4 decisions and so that public confidence in our judiciary and our highest court is restored.”
But failed to mention that Brett Kavanaugh’s career before becoming a judge consisted of working to impeach Bill Clinton and working to stop the 2000 Florida recount so George W. Bush could be named President. Nor did she mention how Kavanaugh had written in his opening statement of his testimony about how he was a victim of “the left”, “the Clintons”,”left-wing opposition groups”, then stated “what goes around comes around”.
Most of all, she asserted many times that she believed the responses she had been given from Brett Kavanaugh regarding legal issues she was concerned about.
But, not once did she mention the fact that Brett Kavanaugh had lied repeatedly when he gave testimony to other Senators:
- “I never attended a gathering like the one Dr. Ford describes in her allegation,” Kavanaugh said in his testimony. Ford described a small gathering of fewer than 10 teenagers at which beer was consumed. But his own calendars reference such gatherings.
- “Dr. Ford’s allegation is not merely uncorroborated, it is refuted by the very people she says were there, including by a long-time friend of hers. Refuted.” This is false. The people in question said they have no memory of the event, which is very, very different from refuting the idea that the event ever took place. Since nothing of note happened to them at the gathering, there’s little reason to think they would recall it all these years later.
- Kavanaugh repeatedly characterized his drinking as regular but moderate, insisting that he has never been so drunk that he couldn’t remember what happened the next day. “Like most people in college I went to parties and had beers,” he said to Judiciary Committee staff. Yet multiple people have now described him as being frequently stumbling drunk in high school and college. “He frequently drank to excess,” one classmate said. “I know because I frequently drank to excess with him.” Another said, “I definitely saw him on multiple occasions stumbling drunk where he could not have rational control over his actions or clear recollection of them.”
- “And yes, there were parties. And the drinking age was 18, and yes, the seniors were legal and had beer there,” he said in his interview with Fox News. In his testimony, he repeated the same idea: “My friends and I sometimes got together and had parties on weekends. The drinking age was 18 in Maryland for most of my time in high school, and was 18 in D.C. for all of my time in high school. I drank beer with my friends.” This is false. The drinking age in Maryland was raised to 21 in 1982, when Kavanaugh was 17. There was not a single day during his entire time in high school when it was legal for him to drink.
- In one of his friend Mark Judge’s books, a memoir of his time in high school, Judge uses pseudonyms for other people he describes. At one point he refers to a “Bart O’Kavanaugh” throwing up in a car. Sen. Pat Leahy asked, “Is that you that he’s talking about?” to which Kavanaugh got indignant and accused Leahy of trying to “make fun of some guy who has an addiction,” meaning Judge. Pressed on whether “O’Kavanaugh” was him, Kavanaugh finally said, “You’d have to ask him.”
- His yearbook refers to him as “Beach Week Ralph Club — Biggest Contributor.” Beach Week is a yearly bacchanal of drinking, drugs, and sex that D.C.-area prep school kids engage in with little or no adult supervision, but Kavanaugh claims that all that was being memorialized was the fact that “I’m known to have a weak stomach and I always have … whether it’s with beer or with spicy food or anything.”
- Kavanaugh claimed that a series of sexual references in his yearbook actually amounted to a vernacular unique to him, in which commonly understood slang terms took on meanings different from what every other person anyone can find understood them to mean. He said the “Devil’s Triangle,” which refers to a threesome with two men and one woman, was actually a drinking game similar to quarters, despite the fact that there is no reference anywhere on the Internet to such a drinking game, and claimed that “boofing” referred not to one of its two common meanings (anal sex or the practice of taking drugs as suppositories) but to flatulence. A reference to “FFFFFFFourth of July” was not a sexual one, but mocking a classmate who stuttered.
- He claimed that multiple references to him and his friends being “Renate alumni,” referring to a young woman from a nearby school, were not sexual boasting and slut-shaming, but were merely included on their yearbook pages to show their affection and admiration for her. “That yearbook reference was clumsily intended to show affection, and that she was one of us,” he said. That must have been why one of his classmates, joining in the show of “affection,” included a poem: “You need a date / and it’s getting late / so don’t hesitate / to call Renate.” When Sen. Richard Blumenthal raised it, Kavanaugh affected deep umbrage, claiming he actually thinks “she’s a great person.” If there’s a single person in America who believes that yearbook reference was meant to show affection, they have yet to make themselves known.
- “I got into Yale Law School. That’s the number one law school in the country. I had no connections there. I got there by busting my tail in college.” This picture of Kavanaugh is absurd. He went to an elite prep school with other children of wealth and influence, he got into Yale as a legacy (his grandfather went there), and one suspects that being a Yale undergrad didn’t harm his chances of getting into Yale Law School.
- “I grew up in a city plagued by gun violence and gang violence and drug violence,” he said in his first round of hearings. Kavanaugh grew up in Bethesda, Md., a wealthy suburb where there is almost no gun violence or gang violence. Though there is plenty of drug use, since the drugs are taken by wealthy white people, the police don’t get involved and there isn’t much violence around it.
- When Kavanaugh was working in the Bush White House on judicial confirmations, a Republican Senate staffer stole Democratic documents and shared what they contained with Kavanaugh, among others. In his hearings, Kavanaugh claimed “I never suspected anything untoward” in the information he was given, despite the fact that it contained references to confidential information about Democrats’ internal discussions and strategy that they had no legitimate access to.
- He claimed to have no knowledge of the sexually explicit jokes, comments and emails by Alex Kozinski, a judge for whom he clerked and to whom he remained close afterward, and who was recently forced from the bench when his history became public. Another of Kozinski’s former clerks wrote, “I do not know how it would be possible to forget something as pervasive as Kozinski’s famously sexual sense of humor or his gag list, as Kavanaugh has professed to in his hearings.”
Maybe Susan Collins doesn’t care about all of Brett Kavanaugh’s lies because Susan Collins is a liar herself.