Trump: FBI shouldn't get involved in allegation

While meeting with Poland's president at the White House, President Trump offered his thoughts on the sexual assault allegations surrounding his Supreme Court nominee, Brett Kavanaugh.

Posted: Sep 19, 2018 4:02 PM
Updated: Sep 19, 2018 4:02 PM

Allegations of a sexual assault have thrown the Supreme Court nomination of Brett Kavanaugh, which had seemed to be on a glide path, into chaos.

The outcome now depends on a new hearing, tentatively planned for Monday, at which Kavanaugh and California professor Christine Blasey Ford, who alleges that a drunken Kavanaugh physically and sexually assaulted her when they were both in high school, could both testify. Kavanaugh denies the allegation.

Whether the hearing takes place and who testifies are very open questions at this point. Republicans have framed it as a take-it-or-leave-it opportunity for Ford to make her case. Ford has said there should be an FBI investigation of the claims first. Remember, Republicans want this to happen very fast, which is why Judiciary Committee Chairman Chuck Grassley rushed a hearing date onto the calendar. Democrats like Sen. Dianne Feinstein, who Ford first notified about the alleged attack, wouldn't mind it dragging out.

Why? Election Day. The current Senate becomes a lame duck in November and goes away entirely in January. There are almost too many variables to keep track of, but here are some ways the Kavanaugh story could play out:

Scenario 1: Republicans rally, confirm Kavanaugh

If the hearing goes forward and Ford is not believable or if it is canceled because she won't testify, there's a decent chance Republicans could rally around Kavanaugh and confirm him. Both Maine Sen. Susan Collins and Alaska Sen. Lisa Murkowski, two Republicans who said they want to hear Ford's side, suggested it would be very interesting indeed if Ford did not make her allegations in public on Capitol Hill.

Scenario 2: Pence casts tie-breaker, confirms Kavanaugh

In the current Senate, two Republicans and every Democrat would have to oppose Kavanugh to put his nomination in actual jeopardy. If only one Republican opposed Kavanuagh, like Collins of Murkowski, but every other Republican supported him, Vice President Mike Pence would have to cast a tie-breaking vote. It would be unprecedented for a Supreme Court justice with a lifetime appointment to be confirmed in such a way, but Republicans already changed Senate procedure requiring 60 votes to limit debate on Supreme Court nominees in order to confirm Trump's earlier pick, Neil Gorsuch. Would they hold back on a tie-break? Nope. Probably not. At the same time, being the only Republican to oppose a Supreme Court nominee would be a very lonely place to be.

Scenario 3: Kavanaugh fails, Republicans find a new nominee before Election Day

If Kavanaugh's nomination does falter, there's little time for Republicans to push another nominee through before the election. In earlier eras, Supreme Court nominations would take just a few days. No more. Most recent nominations take more than two months from nomination date to confirmation. Kavanaugh, who was nominated July 9, is already beyond that. We're less than two months to Election Day right now. Any new nomination would have to be done with speed unlike any we've seen in recent years. The last successful nominee who was confirmed in less than a month was John Paul Stevens, nominated by President Gerald Ford in 1975.

Note: We've now reached Election Day, after which there will be the promise of a new Senate, so the scenarios now rely on either a Republican or Democratic majority.

Democrats have a difficult path to regaining control of the Senate, but it's not entirely out of the realm of possibility.

Scenario 4: Kavanaugh fails, Republicans vote on a new nominee in the Lame Duck

Kavanaugh's nomination, as CNN's Ryan Struyk wrote, was already unusually close to an election.

If Republicans keep their Senate majority or expand it, confirming a nominee after Election Day won't be much of an issue. But if Democrats take the Senate in November, would Republicans rush a conservative nominee through before Democrats took control in January?

McConnell would probably not mind that hypocrisy one bit. (He sat on Garland's nomination because it was a presidential election year and this is a midterm year.) But we're talking about replacing swing vote Anthony Kennedy with a rock-ribbed conservative here. That's a generational accomplishment.

Whether his entire Republican flock followed him would be another question. If Democrats take control of the Senate, it's possible some Republicans might not be able to stomach confirming a lifetime judge after a rebuke at the ballot box. But, and this bears repeating over and over, these nominations are about having a conservative majority for decades or not. You can imagine most Republicans living with it. This would be uncharted territory.

Scenario 5: Kavanaugh falters, Democrats win Senate Majority, find consensus nominee

Let's say, somehow, Republicans are unable to confirm Kavanaugh or some other replacement nominee after losing the election and Democrats take over. Would Democrats want to play nice and work with President Trump and Republicans to find a nominee everyone can agree on? President Trump has vowed to select his nominees from a conservative-approved list that does not sit well with Democrats. It's hard to imagine a consensus nominee in this scenario, when the ideological bent of the court is on the line.

Scenario 6: Kavanaugh falters, Democrats win Senate majority, but block a nomination until 2021

If Republicans fail to get a nominee through and Democrats take control of the Senate, the Democratic base will be lobbying hard for their lawmakers to sit on the nomination until after the next presidential election.

"I think we've had those kinds of vacancies before, and we certainly had over a one-year vacancy with Merrick Garland," Hawaii Sen. Mazie Hirono, a Democrat on the Judiciary Committee, told Politico Magazine. "So the world does not come to an end because we don't fill all of the nominees."

At that point you'll be reading all sorts of stories about how there's nothing in the Constitution about there being nine justices on the Court. There have, in US history, been periods without nine justices, with six and 10. Congress put language in the Judiciary Act of 1869 setting the number of justices at 9, but there's nothing in there about how long a vacancy could last.

Following this scenario, there could be no new justice for years, potentially not until a president had a friendly Senate. Given how often Democrats still mention Garland and complain about McConnell's delay, it's not completely out of the question.

Is there a scenario we've missed? Let me know @zbyronwolf or zachary.wolf@turner.com.

Mississippi Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Cases: 515504

Reported Deaths: 10296
CountyCasesDeaths
Harrison34999558
DeSoto33360432
Hinds32743643
Jackson24906392
Rankin22565405
Lee16455245
Madison14954283
Jones14158248
Forrest13834260
Lauderdale12311323
Lowndes11357193
Lamar10693140
Pearl River9748244
Lafayette8868143
Hancock7849132
Washington7559169
Oktibbeha7229138
Monroe7068179
Pontotoc7033110
Warren6885178
Panola6791135
Neshoba6744210
Marshall6707142
Bolivar6468151
Union643598
Pike5942157
Alcorn5921107
Lincoln5540136
George510680
Prentiss508285
Tippah495683
Itawamba4884107
Scott478999
Tate4777117
Adams4776125
Leflore4749144
Copiah458195
Yazoo458092
Simpson4566117
Wayne443472
Covington434895
Sunflower4319106
Marion4295112
Coahoma4244110
Leake414191
Newton396182
Tishomingo386894
Grenada3789109
Stone366166
Jasper341266
Attala340490
Chickasaw318367
Winston318392
Clay312978
Clarke301695
Calhoun286850
Holmes272889
Smith270552
Yalobusha244947
Tallahatchie232353
Greene225149
Walthall222166
Lawrence220242
Perry214556
Amite210357
Webster206548
Noxubee188843
Montgomery182157
Carroll175441
Jefferson Davis174343
Tunica163539
Benton153139
Kemper145441
Choctaw137027
Claiborne134839
Humphreys132239
Franklin126530
Quitman107828
Wilkinson106139
Jefferson97134
Sharkey65321
Issaquena1957
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Alabama Coronavirus Cases

Cases: 847659

Reported Deaths: 16172
CountyCasesDeaths
Jefferson1163752005
Mobile743371381
Madison53434738
Shelby38413371
Baldwin38171589
Tuscaloosa36131643
Montgomery34571782
Lee25664264
Calhoun22622519
Morgan22527408
Etowah20059520
Marshall18821318
Houston17769426
St. Clair16946359
Limestone16192220
Cullman16140305
Elmore15948295
Lauderdale15055307
Talladega14244302
DeKalb13061271
Walker12138380
Blount10765193
Autauga10545157
Jackson10204195
Coffee9435192
Colbert9363210
Dale9038192
Tallapoosa7283202
Russell710165
Chilton7078170
Covington6967197
Escambia6962144
Franklin6364108
Chambers5795142
Marion5435130
Dallas5302210
Pike5128109
Clarke485686
Lawrence4845130
Winston4785110
Geneva4650136
Bibb435495
Barbour370180
Butler3444101
Marengo342793
Monroe338366
Randolph337767
Pickens334790
Fayette331485
Henry321066
Cherokee319964
Hale318889
Crenshaw261678
Washington256852
Cleburne255460
Lamar253555
Clay252069
Macon245767
Conecuh193562
Coosa185847
Wilcox178338
Lowndes178268
Bullock152745
Perry141840
Sumter139741
Greene130345
Choctaw94328
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