[T]he standard operating procedure for any investigation would include questioning the accuser and the accused. Forgoing these interviews undermines the FBI’s report and makes it easy for critics to contend that this has been a sham investigation. So why would the White House take such a step? The Democrats on Senate Judiciary Committee have a theory: Trump White House officials blocked an interview with Ford because they were worried about the FBI questioning Kavanaugh.
According to Democratic sources, committee Democrats have concluded that the White House believed that a Kavanaugh interview would be too risky. During the hearing last week on Ford’s allegations, Kavanaugh frequently dodged questions from Democratic senators, who each were limited to five-minutes of time. He filibustered, he sidestepped queries, and he was often combative. And during the Republicans’ allotted time for questioning, Rachel Mitchell, the Arizona prosecutor retained by the committee GOPers, was not given the chance to pose many queries to Kavanaugh. Though the committee Republicans—all men—relied on Mitchell to question Ford, when it was Kavanaugh’s turn at the witness table, they essentially shoved Mitchell aside in order to issue grandstanding speeches defending Kavanaugh and assailing the Democrats. (See Lindsey Graham.)
Kavanaugh, that is, did not undergo a true and professional grilling. An FBI interview would have been a much different experience. “When you’re in front of the FBI, you cannot refuse to answer questions, you cannot attack the agents, you cannot change the subject,” a Democratic member of the committee says. “The White House did not want Kavanaugh in such a situation. And if he said anything to the FBI that could prove false, he could end up in a lot of trouble.”
Yet there was no practical way for the White House to keep Kavanaugh off that hot seat and still allow Ford to be interviewed by the FBI. A White House order to the FBI to proceed with the Ford interview but give Kavanaugh a pass would have been widely assailed as a transparent attempt to rig the probe. Consequently, Democrats believe, the White House had to instruct the FBI to strike both Kavanaugh and Ford from the list of interview subjects. (At the hearing, Ford noted her willingness to cooperate with an FBI investigation, and Kavanaugh repeatedly refused to express support for such a probe.) [Continue reading…]