Editor’s Note: Scott Jennings, a CNN contributor, is a former special assistant to President George W. Bush and former campaign adviser to Sen. Mitch McConnell. He is a partner at RunSwitch Public Relations in Louisville, Kentucky. Follow him on Twitter @ScottJenningsKY. The opinions expressed in this commentary are his own. View more opinion articles on CNN.
On Tuesday night, the attorney for Christine Blasey Ford, one day after offering to have her client testify before the Senate Judiciary Committee, pulled back the offer and made a demand –the FBI must investigate before her client will testify.
The lawyer’s letter, bizarrely, stated that “crucial facts and witnesses in the matter” must be assessed “in a non-partisan manner.”
I was stunned that the lawyer for Ford, a research psychologist, left open the question as to whether the allegation—that Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh sexually assaulted Ford when they were in high school—is true. That’s an odd position for a lawyer with a client to take. Ford is the only person who has offered “crucial facts,” so why is her attorney asking for the FBI to assess the reliability of her own client?
I asked retired FBI agent and CNN Contributor James Gagliano how the bureau might tackle an investigation like this. He told me: “She doesn’t know what party and she isn’t sure about the time period. If she’s not sure when and where, and who was there, then it makes it really difficult to determine the veracity of these allegations.”
Which means we are left with the stories of three people Ford says were in the room, and two of them say this allegation is false and the event described did not happen. Only one of them—Kavanaugh himself—is willing to testify under oath at this point.
Let’s be honest about this FBI request—it has little to do with the truth and everything to do with the Democrats’ end game to keep this Supreme Court seat open through the midterm election. Democrats hope to take control of the Senate and hold this seat vacant through 2020, the way the GOP stalled Barack Obama’s nomination of Merrick Garland in 2016. They want revenge for Merrick Garland, an understandable if misguided emotion.
Democrats couldn’t care less about Ford or her story because they are consumed with politics. And the Democratic Party’s lionizing of people like Keith Ellison, Bill Clinton and Ted Kennedy, all tied to their own scandal, tells us all we need to know about whether they believe in treating victims with respect.
Consider how Democrats have treated Ford compared with how the Republicans have treated her. The ranking Democrat on the committee, Diane Feinstein of California —for whatever reason you want to believe– sat on Ford’s letter for nearly two months, never raising the allegations with Kavanaugh. Either Feinstein didn’t take Ford’s letter seriously or was holding it until the 11th hour for political purposes. Despicable.
Then, after Kavanaugh’s hearings were concluded, someone leaked the letter. Ford says she wanted to remain anonymous and was forced to come forward once her private allegation was thrust into the public domain. Who had custody of the letter? Senator Feinstein and her staff, along with Congresswoman Anna Eshoo, a Democrat who Ford had originally contacted with her allegations.
Feinstein’s hometown newspaper, the San Francisco Chronicle, savaged California’s senior senator, editorializing that she “took the worst possible course,” did a “disservice to the Judiciary Committee” and left other senators “in the dark.”
One other thing working against Ford is the previous antics of Democrats on the committee. Cory Booker’s outrageous “Spartacus moment” theatrics and Kamala Harris’s being caught producing deep fake videos of Kavanaugh that misrepresented a statement on contraception have created skepticism on the right that Senate Democrats are operating in good faith.
Ford deserves to be heard if she wants to be, in public or private (whichever she chooses). Republicans—from Donald Trump to Mitch McConnell to Chuck Grassley—are trying to make that possible, while Democrats are simply using her as a political weapon to achieve their objective of delaying and/or defeating Kavanaugh’s confirmation.
I hope Ford shows up Monday to testify if she wants to talk. And if she does, I hope she tells us what she thinks of how the Democrats treated her story and her desire to remain anonymous. If she doesn’t show, the GOP is well within bounds to favorably report Kavanaugh out of committee and send him to the floor.