Imagine this: you’re a woman who was sexually assaulted. You’re asked to testify about it in front of a panel dominated by men who are desperate to see the man you’ve accused be exonerated. In fact their political lives depend on it. These men each have richly deserved reputations for hypocrisy, double-dealing, lying, criminal activity and cowardice. Most of them have legal backgrounds. There exists no criminal remedy or consequences if the men interrogating you lie, deceive you, twist your words, or set traps for you in bad faith. Your testimony may be televised. What’s not to love about it?
Such is the quandary facing Dr Christine Blasey Ford in her testimony against Brett Kavanaugh in front of the Republican-controlled Senate Judiciary Committee, and such is the measure of her veracity that she is nevertheless willing to go through with it anyway. That’s with just one single proviso: that the FBI investigates her allegations first.
And what a proviso it is. Lying to the FBI is a felony. Everyone involved in this incident can go to prison if they lie to the FBI, including Brett Kavanaugh, the witnesses involved, and Dr Ford herself. It’s the kind of proviso only a person telling the truth would make, and it’s the kind of proviso only a person or group of people with something to hide would do everything possible to avoid.
So it comes as no surprise that Republican Senate Judiciary Chairman Chuck Grassley of Iowa is opposed to the idea. “Dr. Ford’s testimony would reflect her personal knowledge and memory of events,” Grassley said in a statement. “Nothing the FBI or any other investigator does would have any bearing on what Dr. Ford tells the committee, so there is no reason for any further delay.”
If you’re having trouble making sense of Grassley’s attempt to explain why having the FBI investigate Dr Ford’s complaint is a bad idea, have no fear. You didn’t misread it. Grassley’s rationale is pure, unalloyed bullshit. An FBI investigation would inject the fear of prison into the bowels of Kavanaugh and any other witness tempted to lie. That is a powerful inducement to tell the truth. Dr. Ford knows this and wants it. Senator Grassley knows it and doesn’t want it. Any questions?
Robert Harrington is an American expat living in Britain. He is a portrait painter.