Trap doors don’t automatically open up under political figures simply because they’re under criminal investigation by the FBI, or because they’ve been accused of sexual assault. If that were the case, Donald Trump would have rightly fallen through one a long time ago. But tonight’s explosive and still-unfolding accusations against Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh have suddenly put us very close to the threshold for the demise of his nomination.
What will it take? The answer is straightforward, even if achieving pulling it off is complicated: two votes. The current math in the Senate means that just two Republicans (out of fifty-one) have to announce that they won’t vote for Brett Kavanaugh, and his nomination dies. The Democrats have concluded that those two Republicans are likely to be Susan Collins and Lisa Murkowski, for a few different specific reasons, and they’ve focused their strategy accordingly. Now there’s a big new reason.
Collins, who is pro-choice is up for reelection in two years in Maine, a moderate state. She could fare poorly if she helps put the swing vote on the Supreme Court who overturns Roe v Wade. Murkowski is also pro-choice. She faces the additional complication of Kavanaugh not believing in indigenous rights. Alaska Natives are one of Murkowski’s most vocal constituencies, and they just publicly called on her to reject Kavanaugh.
But now Collins and Murkowski are facing the prospect of having to vote for a Supreme Court nominee who’s just been accused of sexual assault, even as the FBI is signaling that it’s taking the matter seriously. It’s difficult to imagine either Senator having any shot at reelection if they continue to go along with the GOP’s desperate effort to rush this guy through.
All that Collins and Murkowski have to do – or any two GOP Senators for that matter – is announce that they can’t vote for a guy who’s currently under FBI investigation for sexual assault. At that point the Brett Kavanaugh nomination would die. Donald Trump and Senate Republicans would not have enough time to rush a replacement nominee through confirmation before the November elections. If the Democrats take the Senate in November, they could force the seat to remain vacant until after the next presidential election.
Bill Palmer is the publisher of the political news outlet Palmer Report