Last week, in my column about Jeff Flake surrendering his last bit of leverage before batting his eyes at Mitch McConnell and asking for an FBI investigation without the ability to force McConnell’s hand, I wrote “if you think that Donald Trump is going to initiate an FBI investigation into claims of sexual assault (how this process would formally have to go down), I have some swampland in Flake’s back yard in Arizona that I’d like to sell you.”
I should have added the caveat of a “legitimate” investigation, as ordering a hamstrung FBI probe designed to produce the outcome conservatives want is a great PR move, and literally the only thing that Trump knows is PR. This “investigation” is a joke, as Jane Mayer and Ronan Farrow detailed in The New Yoker:
Frustrated potential witnesses who have been unable to speak with the F.B.I agents conducting the investigation into sexual-assault allegations against Donald Trump’s Supreme Court nominee, Brett Kavanaugh, have been resorting to sending statements, unsolicited, to the Bureau and to senators, in hopes that they would be seen before the inquiry concluded. On Monday, President Trump said that the Bureau should be able to interview “anybody they want within reason,” but the extent of the constraints placed on the investigating agents by the White House remained unclear. Late Wednesday night, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell announced that the F.B.I. probe was over and cleared the way for an important procedural vote on Kavanaugh’s nomination to take place on Friday. NBC News reported that dozens of people who said that they had information about Kavanaugh had contacted F.B.I. field offices, but agents had not been permitted to talk to many of them. Several people interested in speaking to the F.B.I. expressed exasperation in interviews with The New Yorker at what they perceived to be a lack of interest in their accounts.
Deborah Ramirez, one of two women who have accused Kavanaugh of sexual abuse, said in an interview that she had been hopeful that her story would be investigated when two agents drove from Denver to Boulder, Colorado, last weekend to interview her at her lawyer’s office. But Ramirez said that she was troubled by what she perceived as a lack of willingness on the part of the Bureau to take steps to substantiate her claims. “I am very alarmed, first, that I was denied an F.B.I. investigation for five days, and then, when one was granted, that it was given on a short timeline and that the people who were key to corroborating my story have not been contacted,” Ramirez said. “I feel like I’m being silenced.”
The FBI even lacks White House approval to interview the two central players in this investigation: Dr. Christine Blasey Ford and Brett Kavanaugh. So if they’re not interviewing the two people at the center of this incident and they’re not talking to anyone who may be able to corroborate anything in these claims other than Kavanaugh’s friend, Mark Judge, what the hell is the FBI investigating?
Not to mention, one of The New Yorker’s anonymous sources decided to go on the record to confirm his recollection of Debbie Ramirez’s story of Kavanaugh drunkenly thrusting his penis in her face:
Kenneth G. Appold was a suitemate of Kavanaugh’s at the time of the alleged incident. He had previously spoken to The New Yorker about Ramirez on condition of anonymity, but he said that he is now willing to be identified because he believes that the F.B.I. must thoroughly investigate her allegation. Appold, who is the James Hastings Nichols Professor of Reformation History at Princeton Theological Seminary, said that he first heard about the alleged incident involving Kavanaugh and Ramirez either the night it occurred or a day or two later. Appold said that he was “one-hundred-per-cent certain” that he was told that Kavanaugh was the male student who exposed himself to Ramirez. He said that he never discussed the allegation with Ramirez, whom he said he barely knew in college. But he recalled details—which, he said, an eyewitness described to him at the time—that match Ramirez’s memory of what happened. “I can corroborate Debbie’s account,” he said in an interview. “I believe her, because it matches the same story I heard thirty-five years ago, although the two of us have never talked.”
What kind of an investigation is the FBI doing? One where the terms are completely dictated by Donald Trump. None of us should be surprised that it took only a few days to return a “conclusion” that aligns perfectly with Republican interests. This party could care less about the rule of law, and they only turn to it when it benefits them. As they denigrate the FBI for investigating whatever shenanigans their president was involved in during the 2016 election, the Republicans have tied the FBI’s hands while hiding behind the Bureau’s credibility on this Kavanaugh “investigation.”
Mitch McConnell has already scheduled a vote for Kavanaugh on Friday, and you should expect every single Republican (except Lisa Murkowski, she has some local pressures that may push her to vote no) to put a credibly accused sexual assaulter on the Supreme Court (for the 2nd time), because the lesson of every single political battle of our era is that there is no functional difference between the Republican Party and Donald Trump. They are one and the same.
Jacob Weindling is a staff writer for Paste politics. Follow him on Twitter at @Jakeweindling.