Following the narrow confirmation of Brett Kavanaugh as Supreme Court Justice, despite allegations of sexual assault and of lying to a Senate committee, Republican leader Mitch McConnell doubles down on the GOP’s tactic of labelling opponents a “mob”.
With four weeks before the mid-term Congressional elections, Senate Majority Leader McConnell amplified the denunciation used by Donald Trump and Kavanaugh supporters in the final days of the confirmation battle. He claimed to CBS News on Sunday that a “mob” was attacking Republican legislators “at their homes and in the halls” of Congress:
They were trying to intimidate members of the Senate not only in our home states but in the Capitol and in our homes here in Washington. I’m really proud of my members for not knuckling under to those kind of mob-like tactics.
Demonstrators rallied at the Capitol, including in front of Senators’ offices, amid the Judiciary Committee’s hearings — including the testimony of Christine Blasey Ford, the first of Kavanaugh’s three accusers, and of the nominee — and the week leading to Saturday’s final vote.
On one occasion, two sexual assault survivors approached GOP Senator Jeff Flake as he was in an elevator, demanding that he look them in the eye as they testified. Shaken, Flake shifted his position in the Judiciary Committee’s vote to pass Kavanaugh’s nomination to the Senate floor, making his support conditional on a one-week FBI investigation sought by Democrats.
Despite the White House’s strict limits on the investigation, including the refusal to interview two accusers and dozens of witnesses, Flake voted for Kavanaugh’s confirmation — a vital Yes in the 50-48 outcome.
Other male senators dismissed the women with a wave of the hand or told them to “Grow Up”. But on Saturday, the rallies continued in the Capitol and the Supreme Court building, as Kavanaugh was sworn in.
Seeking electoral advantage, Donald Trump framed the sexual assault survivors and their supporters as “an angry left-wing mob” showing “Democrats have become too EXTREME and TOO DANGEROUS to govern”. McConnell and other leading Republican senators echoed the language.
Trump and some senators, including Judiciary Committee chairman Charles Grassley, put out the conspiracy theory that the rallies were funded by Jewish billionaire George Soros — a figure invoked by others such as Iran’s Supreme Leader and Russia’s Vladimir Putin — as Trump insisted, “Women were outraged at what happened to Brett Kavanaugh. Outraged.”
But back in North Dakota, Senator Heidi Heitkamp — a Democrat who finally decided to vote No on Kavanaugh and who faces a tough re-election fight — was backed by admiring supporters. One explained:
I said I was proud of her and God bless her. We all should be really proud of her. This was a historic vote, and everybody knows how difficult it was, and she did the right thing.
John Kennedy talked about profiles in courage — she is a profile in courage.