The strongest evidence that Senate Republicans want to confirm Brett Kavanaugh to the nation’s highest court, regardless of what he may have done, was the conspicuous absence of Mark Judge from the hearing they held on Thursday.
Christine Blasey Ford, who testified under oath before the Senate on Thursday that Kavanaugh attempted to rape her while they were both teenagers, has identified Judge, a conservative writer and childhood friend and classmate of Kavanaugh’s at the tony D.C.-area Georgetown Prep private school, as the only other person present in the room. Yet the Republican-controlled Judiciary Committee has not forced Judge to appear, and it hasn’t said it will allow two other women who have accused Kavanaugh of sexual misconduct, Deborah Ramirez and Julie Swetnick, to publicly testify. Instead, Judge—whose initial conditional denial, that he does not “recall” the incident, left open the possibility that it took place—remains holed up at a beach house in Delaware. Although they did not call Judge to appear, Senate Republicans did go through the effort to hire Rachel Mitchell, an Arizona sex-crimes prosecutor, to cast doubt on Ford’s credibility while avoiding the spectacle of a panel of male senators badgering a sexual-assault survivor.
Despite the burden of reliving her trauma for an audience of millions, the Palo Alto psychology professor remained warm and self-deprecating, cracking jokes about needing coffee because of the time difference between the East Coast and her home in California. Ford’s testimony to the Senate was bracing and convincing. At times choking back tears, she recalled in minute detail the circumstances of the assault, such as Kavanaugh having difficulty removing her clothing because of the one-piece bathing suit she was wearing underneath.