Republican Senators Are Laying the Groundwork to Support Kavanaugh Despite Sexual Assault Allegations

Republicans are busy laying the groundwork to vote for Brett Kavanaugh—almost no matter what happens.

Sen. Tom Cotton (R-AK)

Sexual assault allegations against Donald Trump’s Supreme Court pick will give Republicans yet another chance to add to their outstanding history of appalling comments on rape. Sitting senators are obviously trying to be careful not to commit the next “legitimate rape” debacle, but when you get right down to it, the vast majority of Republicans are still explaining why they’re planning to put a man credibly accused of attempted rape on the Supreme Court.

Sen. Tom Cotton of Arkansas is putting words together that sound inoffensive on their own, but combine to something breathtakingly awful:

.@SenTomCotton, to @hughhewitt: "My opinion of Judge Kavanaugh has not changed...Every known fact so far supports [Kavanaugh's] denial."

— Phil Mattingly (@Phil_Mattingly) September 18, 2018

“Every known fact”? What, pray tell, are the “known facts” here? That Kavanaugh’s buddy who Christine Blasey Ford identifies as having been his accomplice, a guy who by his own account was a habitual blackout drunk and who’s a borderline rape apologist, says it didn’t happen? Or maybe Cotton just figures that if he confidently states that there are FACTS here and they are on Kavanaugh’s side, people won’t notice that it’s he said-she said and he is a confirmed liar with a huge promotion on the line while she is subjecting herself to vicious attacks for speaking out.

Then there’s South Carolina Sen. Lindsey Graham, who seems to want to have a quote out there for both sides:

Q: Is there the possibility that you believe her story but Kavanaugh is still qualified to serve on the court?
GRAHAM: "I’d have a hard time putting somebody on the court that I thought tried to rape somebody."

Q: Period?
GRAHAM: "Period."

— Frank Thorp V (@frankthorp) September 18, 2018

So on the one hand, “The one thing I won’t do is boil his life down to a high school event. We’re going to look at him in totality.” But on the other hand, “I’d have a hard time putting somebody on the court that I thought tried to rape somebody. Period.” Lindsey, you are saying two different things there, unless you (reasonably enough) suspect that if Kavanaugh tried to rape someone once, he probably did it again. Here’s the thing, though: if you’re looking at him in totality, “tried to rape someone in high school” is not some insignificant thing. “Well, sure, he pinned a girl to a bed, turned up the music and covered her mouth to keep people from hearing her scream, and tried to rip her clothes off, but on the other hand, he coaches girls’ basketball and will overturn Roe v. Wade, so how can I not vote for him?”

Republicans may have been cornered into giving Ford’s allegations a public hearing, but that doesn’t mean they aren’t busy laying the groundwork to vote for Kavanaugh—almost no matter what happens.

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Laura Clawson is the Labor editor at Daily Kos Labor, and a contributing editor at Daily Kos.