No one trusts Susan Collins and Lisa Murkowski these days, and objectively speaking, no one should. The Resistance has learned the hard way that these two GOP Senators can’t be counted on to do the right thing for its own sake. Mitch McConnell has learned the hard way that he can’t count on them to cast party-loyal votes, either.
But this isn’t about trust. It never has been, and it never will be. Anyone in the Resistance running around on socal media and yelling “I don’t trust Collins and Murkowski” is completely missing the point, and frankly, holding back their own cause. This is entirely about figuring out what Collins and Murkowski are really trying to do in any given situation, and then figuring out how to impact their decision making process accordingly. I think I’ve finally cracked the code when it comes to what they’re trying to do with Brett Kavanaugh.
Last night Susan Collins called for the Republican-controlled Senate Judiciary Committee to delay things so that Kavanaugh’s second accuser Deborah Ramirez can testify. This was a big deal. The GOP leadership, based on its actions, clearly thinks the only chance it still has of confirming Kavanaugh is if it happens full speed ahead. It was a bigger deal today when Lisa Murkowski came out in support of an FBI investigation into the accusations against Kavanaugh. Not only would an FBI probe further slow the nomination process, it could spook Kavanaugh into finally giving up and dropping out.
Murkowski and Collins are politically savvy. They know they’re the final deciders of whether the Brett Kavanaugh nomination sinks or swims, and they know that the GOP can’t dare defy their demands when it comes to the hearings. Collins and Murkowski also know full well that the longer they drag out the process, and the more criminal jeopardy they put Kavanaugh in, the more likely the nomination will fall apart. Yet they’re making a point of doing precisely that. I think they’re now trying to sabotage the nomination so it’ll fall apart before a full Senate vote, meaning they won’t have to take heat from either side for casting a “yes” or “no” vote.
Update Murkowski now says she was being “flip” with her FBI investigation remark. True to form, she’s still playing both sides. But we’ve never known her to speak flippantly. It appears she’s trying to scare Brett Kavanaugh with the specter of an FBI investigation, without actually having to take credit for being the one who made the threat. We don’t think this changes anything that we’ve laid out above.
Bill Palmer is the publisher of the political news outlet Palmer Report