Discover more from PREVAIL by Greg Olear
Properly investigating Kavanaugh would be the right thing to do AND enormously popular. Why won't the Dems act?
LAST WEEK, the Texas State Legislature passed one of the most repressive antichoice laws in the history of our nation. The fine print is so hateful, so anti-woman, so infuriating—six weeks? $10,000 bounties? Enforcement by private citizens?—that one could be forgiven for believing the law was the dread work of the Taliban, not American citizens with degrees from the University of Chicago Law School.
The Supreme Court had the option to stay the enforcement of the law. It did not. After a day of excruciating silence, the Court voted 5-4 to let it be, citing some pusillanimous procedural technicality. Chief Justice Roberts sided with the three “liberal” justices, but the five other Federalist Society stooges on the bench—Clarence Thomas, Sam Alito, Neil Gorsuch, Amy Coney Barrett, and Brett Kavanaugh—gave Texas the green light to go full Fascist, thus confirming what most of us feared all along: that Roe v. Wade is not safe, that the government is at war with women, that the radical Catholics who took over the Court are pro-tyranny.
As Moscow Never Sleeps detailed in these pages last year, there is nothing we can do about Barrett, Alito, or Gorsuch, and not much we can do about Thomas, unless various oversight committees have the stomach to make his wife Virginia Lamp Thomas’s life in the fundraising/non-profit world not worth the headache.
But Kavanaugh is different. There is a clear playbook to removing him from the bench. And this is what must be done. Not because we don’t like his politics, although we don’t; not because we think he’s an asshole, although he is; not because he had a hissy fit at his confirmation hearing, although he did. No, we must remove him because at least twice in his life, some unknown entity endowed him with major infusions of cash, and Kavanaugh lied, under oath, about the provenance of that cash (he said it came from his Thrift Savings Plan)—and about several other things besides. He’s compromised, six ways from Sunday, and we simply can’t have that on the Supreme Court, no matter which way he votes. Like the wife of Caesar, the Nine must be above reproach.
While all of Roberts, Thomas, Alito, Gorsuch, Kavanaugh, and Barrett are beholden to some degree to Leonard Leo, the Federalist Society, and the other dark money organizations that helped install them, only Kavanaugh is owned. And we still don’t know who holds the paper.
Earlier this year, in Part Two of our five-part series, LB and I produced a painstakingly detailed examination of the red flags concerning Brett Kavanaugh’s finances, which show two enormous and out-of-the-blue influxes of revenue. The first, the down payment on the Chevy Chase house, came through just before his nomination to the D.C. circuit court in 2006; the second, the payment in full of his onerous credit card balances, immediately preceded his nomination to SCOTUS in 2018.
To unseat Justice Devil’s Triangle, all it would take is some authority with subpoena power to follow that money. The reluctance of anyone in government to do so may be attributable to Democrats not wanting to appear partisan—or, perhaps, fear of pissing off the sources of that money, which could be dangerous. Sleeping dogs, etc.
To which I call bullshit. It is the ethical, moral, and Constitutional duty of the other two branches of government to put a check on the federal judiciary. When a mere nine individuals have this much power, it is incumbent upon our representatives to make damned sure they are on the up and up—especially when this lone beer-swilling bro has tipped the scales in favor of the radical Catholic Leonard Leo misogynist neo-Fascist crazies, who will lustily approve whatever despotic new law the Texas Republicans and RAGA can cook up.
Here are a few things such an investigation might look into:
Was the source of those cash infusions Brett’s wealthy old man, Ed Kavanaugh, the former corporate lobbyist? If so, why was this not disclosed? And if not, who ponied up the cash for the down payment and paid off the credit card debts—and, for that matter, underwrote his entire living-above-his-means existence for 12 years?
Kavanaugh claims he purchased season tickets to the Washington Nationals with a group of friends, who later reimbursed him. Who are those friends? Why did they opt to let the guy with the $30k credit card balance be the one to make the big purchase? How many games did he attend? For that matter, why is he a fan of the Nationals and not the Orioles, the team he ostensibly rooted for growing up in Maryland?
Who hacked into Dr. Ford’s email in the weeks before her letter was released? Is the FBI still investigating this? Who released that letter to the press? Why did they do so?
Kavanaugh’s old chum, Mark Judge, was the only eyewitness to the alleged assault of Dr. Ford. Why did he skip town when the hearing was going on? Was he trying to hide something? If he’s well enough to work as a rightwing political operative, and maintain a blog on which he wrote coherently about Dr. Ford after the fact, why did he not appear at the hearing to testify? What does he know?
Is the FBI going to look into the 4,500 tips it received during the hearing about Kavanaugh? Are there more credible sexual assault claims among those tips? How about gambling claims, of which we’ve heard so many rumors? Why did Christopher Wray—another dual graduate of Yale University and Yale Law, a fellow Leonard Leo/FEDSOC associate, and a good friend of Kavanaugh’s buddy Alex Azar—not do anything with these tips at the time? Why didn’t he look into them after the fact? Was it because he and Brett are boys? Did he disclose any of this to then-President Trump, or did he bury the tips himself?
Yes, this is a difficult task. Yes, it requires a coordination of effort. Yes, it may well lead nowhere. Kavanaugh’s statements during his hearing may not rise to the legal standard of perjury. His Daddy Warbucks father may well have been the mystery benefactor. Kavanaugh and Judge may both have been too shit-housed to remember what happened with Dr. Ford all those years ago. But, again, it is the responsibility of our government to determine this once and for all. We deserve to know if one of our nine justices owned. We deserve not to be gaslighted about this.
A Kavanaugh investigation would not only be the right thing to do; it would also be enormously popular. Like, Harry Potter popular. Sistine Chapel popular. “Stayin’ Alive”-in-December-1977 popular. And not in a tepid, half-assed sort of way. Remember how those women tracked down Jeff Flake and shouted at him in the elevator? All of that righteous anger is still there—simmering, but boiling hot. The horrible Texas antichoice law has already turned up the heat. And the recent revelation that Wray buried the 4,500 tips gives political cover. A savvy politician could harness all of that powerful collective energy by simply pushing the right buttons:
“In light of the news that the FBI did not investigate more than 4,500 tips concerning Justice Brett Kavanaugh’s possible malfeasance prior to the confirmation vote in 2018, as we were led to believe it would, I call on President Biden and Attorney General Merrick Garland to appoint a special prosecutor to finish the job that the FBI and Director Wray failed to successfully complete three years ago. With the repressive anti-woman law passed in Texas, and similar laws now being contemplated in Florida, Alabama, and elsewhere—something we were assured by Senator Collins and others would never come to pass—there is a special urgency to looking into this matter immediately. We were not told the full truth at the confirmation hearing. Thus he was not properly vetted. The American people have a right to know, once and for all, if one of the nine Supreme Court Justices is compromised.”
Democrats have a reputation, often well deserved, of being political cowards, of not being willing to take any risks. This will not be risky. I don’t think folks inside the Beltway bubble fully understand how popular this would be, especially if the reasons for doing so are well communicated, if the messaging is well coordinated. Anyone who signs on to this will enjoy the full-throated endorsement of the entire base of the Democratic party, including pretty much every blue-voting woman in the land.
How do I know this? Back in 2018, in a series of pieces I published on Medium about Brett Kavanaugh’s shady finances, I created the Twitter hashtag #WhoOwnsKavanaugh. In the three years since, any time news comes out about Kavanaugh that reflects badly on him—that is, that we hope might inspire someone to actually, you know, do something—that hashtag is resurrected. On July 24, after news broke of the FBI ignoring the 4,500 tips it received about Kavanaugh’s bad behavior, I posted a new thread, this time with links to each of the five pieces LB and I wrote. It trended all day, so much that Twitter wrote a little synopsis of why it was trending.
Believe me when I tell you: People hate the guy. He is the embodiment of so much that is wrong about our government, our political system, the patriarchy. They see him as an affront to justice, to women’s rights, to the foundational values of the United States. Investigating Kavanaugh will not be seen as a political witch hunt—by Fox News zombies, sure, but not by the people who matter. On the contrary, it will be perceived as correcting a grievous error, as cleaning house, as taking a righteous stand.
If Kavanaugh were a liberal justice with the same sketchy background, and the GOP controlled the House, Senate, and White House, there would be no question of investigating this. Why don’t the Dems exhibit the same ruthlessness, clarity of purpose and moral obligation to their voters and the American people? Why always the proverbial knife at the gun-fight?
There are several ways to break open this metaphorical piñata: The down payment and the credit card debt. The baseball tickets. The gambling rumors. Mark Judge. The hacking of Dr. Ford’s emails. The FBI essentially covering up whatever might have been in those complaints—and not bothering to tell anyone. LB and I have laid it all out. Pick up the baseball bat of justice and start whacking. The future of our democracy is at stake.