Calling On Leader McConnell To Apologize To Dr. Ford

Yesterday, the Republican leader began his speech with a quote of mine. Let me begin with a quote of his: “We’re going to plow right through it.” That’s Leader McConnell, “We’re going to plow right through it.” He was speaking to the Values Voter Summit about serious allegations of sexual misconduct by Supreme Court nominee Judge Kavanaugh. “We’re going to plow right through it.”

Does that sound like someone who’s treating these allegations with respect and fairness and evenhandedness? Does it sound like someone who wants to get at the real facts, no matter where they fall? Certainly not to me. Not to the American people.

And then yesterday, Leader McConnell brought the debate to a new low by calling the allegations against Judge Kavanaugh a “Democratic smear job.”

Never mind that Leader McConnell has no evidence — no evidence whatsoever — that the recent allegations that the recent allegations were contrived by Democrats. They were not. Never mind that Leader McConnell had no evidence — no evidence whatsoever — that the events in question took place or didn’t take place. It seems likely that they did, but he has no evidence one way or the other because he won’t even ask for an investigation of it. He unilaterally declared the accounts of multiple women to be “manufactured mud,” part of a partisan smear campaign.

So, let me address those comments directly, that these allegations are part of a “Democratic smear job.”

First, these allegations did not originate with Democrats. These women came forward with principle and courage, knowing they would face abuse and lasting personal pain for doing so — but realizing they had an obligation to the country, they did so anyway. Dr. Ford came forward and shared her story voluntarily, on her own initiative. She wasn’t put up by a Democrat, a Republican, or anybody else. It came from her heart. The idea that these allegations were cooked up or instigated by or encouraged by Democrats in Congress is patently absurd, and a real insult to members of the Judiciary Committee and the members of this chamber. It is against the spirit, if not the letter, of our Senate rules.

Addressing the second part of Leader McConnell’s claim, that’s even worse. Democrats and Republicans are always throwing charges at each other, but the idea this is a “smear job.” Whatever you think about the veracity of the allegations, it is shameful — shameful — to doubt these women’s sincerity; to say they’re making it up; to discredit their sincere testimony as nothing more than a partisan hit job. For too long, people in positions of power have dismissed accounts made by women, before any evidence could be brought forward, as politically motivated or character assassination.

We’ve come a long way in this country and we have to be better than that, better than the low, low, low standard that Senator McConnell has set. At a minimum, we must respect these women and Judge Kavanaugh by handling these allegations with the seriousness that they deserve.

Leader McConnell owes an apology to Dr. Ford for labeling her allegations a “smear job.”

Let me repeat that, Leader McConnell owes an apology to Dr. Ford for labeling her allegations a “smear job.” And he should apologize to her immediately.

It is galling, galling for the Republican leader, who has done more than maybe anyone to politicize the Supreme Court nomination process, to make these trumped up, hyperbolic charges of partisanship by Democrats. It is a sad habit of Republicans to accuse the other side of doing what they, in fact, are doing. Happens over and over again. That seems to be the case here, as Democrats have over and over again urged the FBI to help investigate these allegations to get to the bottom of it, to get to the truth, while Republicans block any investigation and plow right through with their nominee.

It’s simple, if Leader McConnell was truly concerned about these allegations being swept up in partisanship, he would join me calling for an FBI background investigation — which can be performed quietly, soberly, quickly, effectively, without fuss, without muss, without a circus atmosphere.

That’s the way to get this done. And the only reason it hasn’t happened is because the president and Leader McConnell have blocked it, as well as Senator Grassley. Don’t they want the truth? They say they do, but their actions belie that, because they won’t even entertain a background check, which the FBI does over and over again to find out the facts. I think they’re afraid of the facts.

Why doesn’t Judge Kavanaugh call for an FBI investigation? He went on TV last night and said they aren’t true. If they aren’t true, he has nothing to fear from an FBI background investigation, and he should want it, no matter what Leader McConnell and President Trump say. Why doesn’t he call for it? Is he afraid of the facts?

So, I challenge you, Leader McConnell, if you are so convinced this is a smear campaign, you’ll have no problem with an FBI investigation to prove your case. Come to the floor, come now and join me in asking the White House to re-open the background check. Let’s get politics out of it. Let’s root out the facts. Let’s get to the truth. No histrionics. No smearing. No name calling. As they said in Dragnet, “just the facts.”

Because labeling this a partisan smear job demeans not only the senators in my caucus who I know are doing everything they can to treat these allegations with caution and respect for both Dr. Ford and Judge Kavanaugh, but it demeans many, many women who have come forward, of their own volition, knowingly inviting abuse, to share their stories. And they share them not simply because they want their stories to be told. They want to prevent it from happening again, and again, and again in the future. They want to protect their daughters and their granddaughters from this kind of stuff, which we have seen in the last year or two has been all too real. All too frequent. They’re doing a noble thing. And then to slander them by calling what Dr. Ford said a smear job. It’s outrageous, demeaning, wrong. Again, Leader McConnell should rethink what he said in the heat of the moment and apologize to Dr. Ford.

What’s really going on here? Why are Republicans falsely claiming that credible allegations are being made for political reasons? Because their nominee to the Supreme Court, frankly, has a gigantic credibility problem. In his testimony before the Judiciary Committee, Judge Kavanaugh misled the committee on numerous occasions regarding his involvement in some of the ugliest controversies of the Bush administration, including the Bush administration’s policies on torture, the confirmation of some deeply flawed judges like William Pryor and Charles Pickering, and his knowledge of the odious theft of Democratic email records by a Republican staff member named Manny Miranda. In all of those, Judge Kavanaugh did not come clean. He did not tell the whole truth and nothing but the truth, but far, far, far from it.

Judge Kavanaugh was in the thick of all of those things as a top political operative in the Bush White House and yet denied any involvement. Here again, with these new allegations brought forward by Dr. Ford and others, Judge Kavanaugh is again issuing blanket denials. But the question looms: is he credible? Is he credible?

He is opposed to having the FBI investigate, as is the majority leader, as is President Trump. None of them want the facts to come out. They just want to “plow right through it.” If not for the courage of a handful of Republican senators, we wouldn’t have even had the hearing. Senator McConnell and Chairman Grassley did not want hearings. Even hearings which they are now saying are ‘fair’ and ‘right.’ But a few Republicans senators, to their credit, said they’re have to be hearings; at least let’s hear this woman out. I didn’t hear them calling this a smear job. Thank God. They said, ‘Let’s get the facts.’ Well, again, to repeat, the best way to get the facts is not just to plow through it, it’s to have the FBI do what they have always done when new information comes up with a nominee they may already have checked out. Reopen the background check and check out these new facts. It won’t take long. It will be done quietly and in private, and then members of the Judiciary Committee on both sides of the aisle can learn the same facts done by an objective observer. That’s all the American people want.

So, the American people see what’s going on. They are looking at Judge Kavanaugh. They’re finding him less and less credible. That’s why his nomination is in deep trouble. Perhaps that’s why, in poll after poll, the plurality of Americans say Judge Kavanaugh should not be confirmed. Let us get the facts. Let us stop smearing woman who have the courage to come forward. Let’s get to the bottom of this in a correct, appropriate, and dignified way. That’s what the American people want, and that’s what we should be doing in a bipartisan way in this chamber.