The battle is not being fought by Democratic dead-enders who cannot accept that Kavanaugh won confirmation despite the sexual misconduct allegations against him. Instead, the fight is being led by Sen. Charles Grassley, the Republican chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, who is still angry at the way those unverified and, in some cases, evidence-free allegations sidetracked his committee's work, and nearly the nomination itself.
Grassley's unhappiness comes through in every page of a new 28-page report, accompanied by 386 pages of supporting documents, outlining the committee's handling of the Kavanaugh case. One key point that comes out in the report is that Grassley and his staff of investigators on the Republican side took each allegation against Kavanaugh seriously, no matter how far-fetched. That's how the confirmation process almost ground to a halt.
The allegations covered in the report start with Christine Blasey Ford, who came forward just before the committee's scheduled vote on Kavanaugh to say that 36 years ago, when she was 15 years old, a drunken 17-year-old Kavanaugh forced her onto a bed, tried to undress her, and, when she tried to scream, covered her mouth with his hand.
"Committee investigators found no verifiable evidence that supported Dr. Ford's allegation against Justice Kavanaugh," Grassley wrote.
The allegations continued with Deborah Ramirez, who claimed that 35 years ago, when she was a student at Yale, a drunken Kavanaugh exposed himself to her at a party.
"The committee found no verifiable evidence to support Ramirez's allegations," Grassley wrote.
Then there was Julie Swetnick, the woman who alleged that Kavanaugh, 36 years ago, took part in drugging women and gang-raping them at high school parties.
"The committee found no verifiable evidence to support Swetnick's allegations," Grassley wrote.
Then there was the so-called Rhode Island allegation, in which an anonymous accuser said Kavanaugh and friend Mark Judge sexually assaulted a woman on a boat in 1985. "The committee found no verifiable evidence to support the allegations," Grassley wrote. Then there was the anonymous accuser in Colorado, who said that in 1998, Kavanaugh shoved a woman he was dating "very aggressively and sexually."
"The committee found no evidence to support the allegations in the anonymous Colorado letter," Grassley wrote.
Finally, there was the so-called Jane Doe allegation, in which an anonymous accuser claimed that in an unspecified year, in an unspecified place, Kavanaugh hit her, forced her to perform oral sex, and, along with another man, raped her "several times."
"The committee found no evidence to support the allegations in the Jane Doe letter," Grassley wrote.
When Grassley said the committee found no evidence, he did not mean it did not try to find evidence. The committee's efforts to substantiate the Ford allegation are well-known; investigators got in touch with 17 people who might have had information relevant to Ford's story. The FBI interviewed more.
No one ever found any contemporaneous corroboration, or much corroboration at all, for Ford's 36-year-old accusation.
In the Ramirez matter, the committee got in touch with eight people who might have had some information regarding the accusation; the FBI did more. Likewise, the committee contacted several people in relation to the Swetnick allegation and found nothing to support her story. That work was in addition to the FBI investigation demanded by Democrats.
The committee also dutifully chased information for the Rhode Island, Colorado and Jane Doe allegations. The end result was nothing.
All of this investigating was done during the key days of a Supreme Court confirmation process, when committee staff is already pressed to handle all the work that must be done. Directing investigators to chase down this or that accusation placed a huge burden on the committee as it exercised its most important responsibilities.
Now, the chairman clearly believes he and the committee were being jerked around. He is not happy about it. And he is determined to ensure that it not happen again.
Grassley has asked the Justice Department to investigate whether Swetnick and her lawyer, 2020 Democratic presidential hopeful Michael Avenatti, made false statements to the committee. Grassley has also referred a woman named Judy Munro-Leighton, who claimed she wrote the Jane Doe letter, for a false-statements investigation as well.
"Such conduct wastes committee time and resources, has the potential to significantly interfere with congressional investigations, and greatly hinders the committee's ability to assist the Senate in performing its constitutional responsibilities," Grassley wrote in the report. "The committee is ready and willing to speak with any individual who comes forward with critical information in good faith. However, the committee will not tolerate efforts to obstruct its work."
Given what happened with Kavanaugh, it seems reasonable to predict that if President Trump has another Supreme Court opening, the opposition will throw everything it has at the nominee. The Judiciary Committee is prepared to handle accusations backed by evidence. But Grassley wants to make sure everybody knows it will not take part in another circus.