Allegations of sexual misconduct against US Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh are like “four sticks of dynamite wrapped in radioactive material” due to their timing, NBC host Chuck Todd has said.
College professor Christine Blasey Ford has accused Kavanaugh of sexually assaulting her 35 years ago at a high school party. Kavanaugh, who was nominated for the Supreme Court position by President Donald Trump in July, has adamantly denied the accusation, saying it is “completely false” and that he has “never done anything” like what the accuser has described.
Both Ford and Kavanaugh will testify before the Senate Judiciary Committee next Monday, during which the public will get to hear both sides.
Speaking on NBC’s Today show, Todd compared the atmosphere around the Kavanaugh nomination to the 1991 confirmation hearings of Justice Clarence Thomas, who was accused of sexual harassment by Anita Hill. Todd said the timing of the Ford/Kavanaugh hearing so close to midterm elections and in the “Donald Trump era” made the whole thing feel like a “tinderbox”.
“It just seems that either side could see an eruption of a culture war that defines the rest of the midterm election in six weeks that could totally scramble what the outcomes could be,” the Meet The Press host said.
Indeed, the timing of the accusations, just before the vote to confirm Kavanaugh and two months before the hugely consequential congressional midterm elections, has raised eyebrows among some of Kavanaugh’s supporters and led to some heated online debate.
Ford’s allegation was made public last week by Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-California). She admitted that she received a letter in July, but said she did not act on it out of respect for the accuser, who did not wish to be named. Some have suggested that Feinstein’s timing indicates that the scandal is a last-minute effort by Democrats to derail Kavanaugh’s nomination, which they have been strongly opposed to, as it would shift the political balance on the court to the right.
Proving a negative is impossible, esp ~4 decades later & the timing of all of this is highly suspect. I’d add that even those who want to defeat Kavanaugh due to politics should be careful about embracing a precedent under which this approach is ‘rewarded’ as effective…
— Guy Benson (@guypbenson) September 16, 2018
The timing is very unfair to Kavanaugh. Feinstein could have questioned him under oath, but didn't. Democrats made this an issue in the most questionable and partisan way possible. But it *is* an issue, a very serious one. (8)
— Robby Soave (@robbysoave) September 16, 2018
You have to take accusations seriously, and people line up on party lines on Kavanaugh, but these are not equal cases. There are a million reasons to be skeptical of her claim because of timing, and as of now, no real reason to believe it (unless you know her personally.)
— Stu Burguiere (@WorldOfStu) September 18, 2018
Others have argued that the timing is irrelevant and only the substance of the allegations matter.
Reason # 2,532 why survivors do not come forward: People are more horrified by the timing of the disclosure than the violent assault that is being disclosed. #Kavanaugh
— Dani Bostick (@danibostick) September 17, 2018
The #Kavanaugh defenders are trying to stand on the process/timing of the allegation and wish to ignore its substance. Would they prefer that she never had come forward? Is that what they’re really suggesting?
— Rep. Eric Swalwell (@RepSwalwell) September 17, 2018
People frame the Dr. Ford/Kavanaugh issue as "he said/she said." But *she* has a polygraph test which she passed on her side. He, thus far, does not. So unless you want to call it "she said (and has a polygraph to back it up)/he said," your framing does not apply. #MorningJoe
— LaurenBaratzLogsted (@LaurenBaratzL) September 18, 2018
In order to defeat Kavanaugh’s nomination, Senate Democrats need to convince two Republicans to vote with them.
Todd suggested that he wouldn’t be surprised if the allegations and new controversy around his nomination caused Kavanaugh to “withdraw and chose to back down” — but so far, Kavanaugh has showed no signs that he is considering withdrawing his name as a Supreme Court nominee.
More than 22 million people tuned in to watch the infamous Thomas/Hill testimony in 1991. Thomas was confirmed in a 52-48 Senate vote and is still a sitting Supreme Court judge today. With far more news outlets and platforms available today, the number could be even higher for Ford and Kavanaugh.