Having It Both Ways With Kavanaugh
BOB GARFIELD: From WNYC in New York, this is On the Media. I’m Bob Garfield.
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BROOKE GLADSTONE: And I’m Brooke Gladstone. How long since naked id has been displayed so brazenly to a nation’s people and embraced as rectitude by its most powerful men? How long since a country's professed values, its principles, even its deodorizing pieties and hypocrisies have been so swiftly repealed? President Trump is right, in this at least. He has accomplished more than any president before him, ever.
QUESTION: If I could just actually ask —
PRESIDENT TRUMP: Go ahead, please.
QUESTION: — my question, Mr. Trump. You didn’t let me ask my question.
PRESIDENT TRUMP: You, you’ve been asking a question for 10 minutes.
QUESTION: No, you interrupted my question.
PRESIDENT TRUMP: Please sit down, please, go ahead.
QUESTION: I’m asking you –
PRESIDENT TRUMP: Go ahead.
QUESTION: -- how did those impact your opinions on the allegations against Judge Kavanaugh?
PRESIDENT TRUMP: Well, it does impact my opinion. And you know why, because…
QUESTION: Thank you very much. If you don’t mind, after I’m finished, if Weeger (PH)) or Halley (PH) or, Vivian or one of our female colleagues could go after me, that would be great. Mr. President, just to follow up on these allegations against Brett Kavanaugh.
PRESIDENT TRUMP: What does, what does he mean by that? Explain. What, what does, what does that mean?
QUESTION: I think it would be, I think it would be great if a female --
PRESIDENT TRUMP: What does it mean? No, what does it mean?
QUESTION: I think it’d be great if a female reporter would ask you a question about the — this issue. So, if you don’t mind, I’d like to pass --
PRESIDENT TRUMP: I wouldn’t mind that at all, no.
QUESTION: All right.
PRESIDENT TRUMP: I wouldn’t mind it at all.
QUESTION: All right, well…
BROOKE GLADSTONE: Talk loud! Talk over! Purposeful conversation is tender. The annihilating foghorn blast, that’s tough, authentic.
SEN. LINDSEY GRAHAM: I know I’m a single white male from South Carolina and I’ve been told I should shut up but I will not shut up, if that’s okay.
BROOKE GLADSTONE: South Carolina Senator Lindsey Graham, who now has truly buried his dearly departed friend John McCain, condemned the Democrats for cynical delays, while embracing the GOP’s cynical rush, with teeth bared, fingers jabbing and righteous indignation so pointed it could slice an overripe tomato.
SEN. LINDSEY GRAHAM: Would you say you’ve been through hell?
JUDGE BRETT KAVANAUGH: I, I’ve been through hell and then some.
SEN. GRAHAM: This is not a job interview.
JUDGE KAVANAUGH: Yeah.
SEN. GRAHAM: This is hell.
JUDGE KAVANAUGH: This, this…
SEN. GRAHAM: This is going to destroy the ability of good people to come forward because of this crap!
BROOKE GLADSTONE: Ten days of hell, hell, hell! That’s what comes of entering the public square. Christine Blasey Ford knew it, and she suffered intermittent hell for 36 years. Hillary Clinton endured 11 hours in one sitting on Benghazi, essentially accused of murder. She didn't do it but she didn't interrupt, scream or weep. She knew she couldn't. But Kavanaugh knows he can. Talk over, talk loud.
SEN. PATRICK LEAHY: You talked about drinking and sexual exploits, did you not?
BROOKE GLADSTONE: Vermont Senator Patrick Leahy.
JUDGE KAVANAUGH: Senator, let me, let me take a step back and explain -- high school. I was number one in the class…
SEN. LEAHY: And I, and I thought only --
JUDGE KAVANAUGH: …freshman. No, no -- no, no, no, no.
SEN. LEAHY: I thought only in the Senate there’s a filibuster.
JUDGE KAVANAUGH: You’ve got this up -- I’m going to, I’m going to talk about my high school.
SEN. LEAHY: I thought only in the Senate there’s a filibuster.
JUDGE KAVANAUGH: No, no, I’m going to --
SEN. CHUCK GRASSLEY: Let him answer.
JUDGE KAVANAUGH: I’m gonna talk about my high school record, if you’re going to sit here and mock me.
JUDGE KAVANAUGH: My family and I intend no ill will toward Dr. Ford or her family. [SNIFFS] But I swear today, under oath, before the Senate and the nation, before my family and God, [SNIFFS] I am innocent of this charge.
BROOKE GLADSTONE: Tears, as long as they are bracketed by anger and trail down the face of a prosperous white man, are righteous.
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You’ve got to deny, deny, deny and push back on these women, Trump told a friend accused of sexual overreach, according to the Bob Woodward book Fear. If you admit to anything and any culpability, then you’re dead, Trump reportedly said. You’ve got to be strong. You've got to be aggressive. You’ve got to push back hard. You’ve got to deny anything that’s said about you. Never admit.
JUDGE KAVANAUGH: All four people allegedly at the event, including Dr. Ford’s longtime friend, Ms. Keyser, have said they recall no such event. Her longtime friend, Ms. Keyser, said under penalty of felony that she does not know me and does not believe she ever saw me at a party, ever.
RACHEL MITCHELL: Are you aware that they say that they have no memory or knowledge of such a party?
CHRISTINE BLASEY FORD: Yes.
BROOKE GLADSTONE: That’s Ford with the Republicans’ chosen interrogator Rachel Mitchell.
RACHEL MITCHELL: Do you have any particular motives to ascribe to Leland?
CHRISTINE BLASEY FORD: I guess we could take those one at a time. Leland has significant health challenges and I’m happy that she’s focusing on herself and getting the health treatment that she needs. And she let me know that she needed her lawyer to take care of this for her, and she texted me right afterward with an apology and good wishes and, etcetera, So I’m glad that she’s taking care of herself. I don’t expect that P.J. and Leland would remember this evening. It was a very unremarkable party. It was not one of their more notorious parties, because nothing remarkable happened to them that evening. They were downstairs.
BROOKE GLADSTONE: Leland has since stated that she believes Ford, even if she can’t remember. Trauma has the ability to sear. On the other hand, alcohol has the power to erase. He may have been too drunk to record what may have been to him an unremarkable event, a joke, but it’s Ford, who Lindsey Graham generously says is mixed up, because he knows the sole reason for this farce. And so does Kavanaugh because it can only be about one thing.
JUDGE KAVANAUGH: This whole two-week effort has been a calculated and orchestrated political hit, fueled with apparent pent-up anger about President Trump and the 2016 election, fear that has been unfairly stoked about my judicial record, revenge on behalf of the Clintons and millions of dollars in money from outside left-wing opposition groups. This is a circus.
SEN. KAMALA HARRIS: I’ll point out to you that Judge — Justice now — Neil Gorsuch was nominated by this president. He was considered by this body, just last year.
BROOKE GLADSTONE: California Senator Kamala Harris.
SEN. KAMALA HARRIS: You both attended Georgetown Prep, you both attended very prestigious law schools, you both clerked for Justice Kennedy, you were both circuit judges, you were both nominated to the Supreme Court, you were both questioned about your record. The only difference is that you have been accused of sexual assault. How do you reconcile your statement about a conspiracy against you with the treatment of someone who was before this body not very long ago?
BROOKE GLADSTONE: Irrelevant. I’m not all that remarked upon, because it’s axiomatic to observe that truth is whatever you want it to be in today’s America. But there is a law against perjury, if anybody still cares. Connecticut Senator Richard Blumenthal.
SEN. RICHARD BLUMENTHAL: As a federal judge, you’re aware of the jury instruction falsus in unibus, falsus in omnibus, are you not? You’re aware of that jury instruction?
JUDGE KAVANAUGH: Yeah, yeah, I am.
SEN. RICHARD BLUMENTHAL: You know what it means?
JUDGE KAVANAUGH: You can translate it for me, Senator. You can do it better than I can.
SEN. BLUMENTHAL: False in one thing, false in everything, meaning in jury instructions…that they can disbelieve a witness if they find them to be false in one thing. So the core of why we’re here today really is credibility. Let me talk.
JUDGE KAVANAUGH: I think the core of why we’re here is an allegation for which the four witnesses present have all said it didn’t happen.
BROOKE GLADSTONE: They didn’t say it didn’t happen but that they didn’t recall. Kavanaugh dissembled throughout his testimony about having no role in the George W. Bush White House in policies related to the detention of alleged terrorists. He misrepresented several of his legal decisions, arguably to make them seem more liberal. For instance, he said one of his decisions protected the environment. Not really.
On a lighter note, he likely lied about the meaning of a devil’s triangle and Renate Alumnius and FFFFFFF. The usual meanings, sexual in nature, are readily available online. Kavanaugh said he only cared about sports and studies and church, that he hardly drank. In later testimony, he said he drank -- beer and that he did embarrassing things, that he liked beer, liked it a lot, likes it still, don't you?
This week, the Democrats called persistently for the FBI to examine the new allegations against Kavanaugh. The Republicans said no, he's had so many background checks. The Dems said it was the usual practice when new and serious charges emerge. As I write this, I mean, literally, as I write this, President Trump has ordered the FBI to conduct an updated investigation of Kavanaugh, apparently in response to pressure from undecided senators led by Republican Jeff Flake. For his part, Kavanaugh has always affirmed that he's as open as a peony in midsummer but not exactly enthused about further scrutiny from the FBI.
JUDGE KAVANAUGH: I welcome — I wanted the hearing last week.
SEN. DICK DURBIN: I’m asking about the FBI investigation.
JUDGE KAVANAUGH: They’re — the Committee figures out how to ask, ask the questions. I’ll do whatever. I’ve been on the phone multiple times with Committee counsel. I’ll talk to…
SEN. DURBIN: Judge Kavanaugh, will you support an FBI investigation…
JUDGE KAVANAUGH: I’ll d -- I’ll…
SEN. DURBIN: -- right now?
JUDGE KAVANAUGH: I, I will do whatever the Committee wants
SEN. DURBIN: Personally, do you think that’s the best thing for us to do? [PAUSE] You won’t answer?
JUDGE KAVANAUGH: You know, look, Senator, I, I’ve s — I’ve — I, I’ve said I wanted a hearing and I’d said I was welcome anything.
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BROOKE GLADSTONE: Lying to an FBI agent in a formal interview is a crime and an impeachable offense. As I observed at the top, yelling, fuming, talking loud and talking over, in short, bullying, now is seen as a mark of authenticity and an acceptable political tool. But it’s still wielded crudely, like the first time apes picked up a bone for use as a weapon. Our system of government is too fragile for apes. And it may be too fragile for us. I leave you with this from John Adams.
TONY PHILLIPS: Remember democracy never lasts long. It soon wastes, exhausts and murders itself. There never was a democracy yet that did not commit suicide. It is in vain to say that democracy is less vain, less proud, less selfish, less ambitious or less avaricious than aristocracy or monarchy. Those passions are the same in all men, under all forms of simple government, and when unchecked, produce the same effects of fraud, violence, and cruelty….Individuals have conquered themselves. Nations and large bodies of men, never.
BROOKE GLADSTONE: Democracy can’t protect us. We have to protect it. You know what to do.
BOB GARFIELD: Coming up, the purging of voters from the rolls is a ritual of housekeeping and racism.
BROOKE GLADSTONE: This is On the Media.