Wyoming’s two U.S. senators have heard enough.

They listened to the Senate Judiciary Committee’s special hearing last Thursday in which a woman who has accused Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh of a sexual assault was heard, as were his denials of the charges.

It was tense, dramatic and emotional but ultimately the hearing amounted to little more than a ‘he said, she said’ — and that’s good enough for the Wyoming delegation. Both Sens. Mike Enzi and John Barrasso concluded that Kavanaugh is still their man for a lifetime appointment to the nation’s highest court. In separate statements they remained unwavering in their support for President Trump’s nominee.

“I haven’t learned any new facts. My opinion of the judge hasn’t changed, and I continue to believe he is a well-qualified nominee,” Enzi said. “I hope the Senate votes on the nomination soon.”

“There has been no supporting evidence or witnesses confirming the serious allegations made by Dr. Ford against Judge Kavanaugh,” Barrasso said. “I found Judge Kavanaugh’s categorical denial of these events to be convincing and very credible.”

Wyoming’s senators may have made up their minds, but several of their Republican colleagues were rightfully not satisfied and successfully pressed to delay a full Senate vote on Kavanaugh’s confirmation until after the FBI conducts a one-week investigation into the claims of Dr. Christine Blasey Ford.

Is there anything the probe could discover that might change Barrasso or Enzi’s minds? It does not appear so.

The Republican argument against further consideration goes something like this: Ford’s accusations are baseless, unfair to the nominee and a ham-handed ploy to hold-up the confirmation process. They point to the late-in-the-process revelation of her claims as evidence of such political machinations.

Let’s assume for the sake of argument that they’re right. If so, wouldn’t an additional week or more to clear Judge Kavanaugh’s reputation, restore the nation’s faith in its highest court and repair some of the wrenching divisions this process has revealed be time well spent? What’s the rush? Where’s the downside to having the facts? If what Kavanaugh and his senatorial allies had to say Thursday was true, they should welcome the chance to demonstrate it.

But if the FBI finds evidence that indicates Kavanaugh lied to the committee they should be willing to reassess his fitness to serve on the Supreme Court. They owe it to their constituents.

Barrasso declared there were no witnesses or evidence to support Ford’s charges. There is a good reason for that: Republicans on the Judiciary Committee refused to allow additional witnesses to testify or allow other evidence to be admitted.

There is evidence that Ford is telling the truth when she claims that, as teens, Kavanaugh pinned her to the bed, groped her, tried to remove her clothing and, when she tried to yell for help, covered her mouth with his hand. Ford voluntarily took a polygraph test and passed.

A polygraph test is not admissible in court, as Kavanaugh noted, but law enforcement routinely uses the examinations as an investigative tool to determine if a subject is credible.

The judge, who now serves on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit, did not take a polygraph, nor did he call for an FBI investigation to clear him. Ford welcomed the probe, as she has since her charges were made public against her wishes when they were leaked to the media.

The controversy has prompted other allegations of sexual misconduct against the judge and regrettably put the lives of Ford and Kavanaugh and their families in turmoil. Death threats have been made, both accuser and the accused have seen their good names dragged through the mud, and it has all played out on national television.

No one on the Senate panel said they found Ford’s testimony to not be credible. Even the GOP’s propaganda arm Fox News described what she had to say as credible and compelling. While several condescendingly said they believed that “something terrible happened” to her, they maintained the perpetrator was not Kavanaugh. Some senators believe she is simply confused or it’s a case of mistaken identity, ignoring her statement that she is “100 percent” certain that a drunken Kavanaugh attempted to rape her.

If Kavanaugh is indeed innocent, of course he has every reason to be angry. He certainly showed that anger when he testified. But he also did something never seen before from a Supreme Court nominee in a confirmation hearing.

Kavanaugh launched a bitter partisan attack against a so-called “left-wing conspiracy” that moved the proceedings from “advise and consent to search and destroy.” He threw judicial restraint out the window in favor of railing against Democrats who would threaten a job he seems to think he is entitled to after years of hard work at Yale Law School and as a GOP operative in George W. Bush’s White House before his current judicial appointment.

What no one heard was Kavanaugh demand that an independent investigation be requested by Trump. The judge shrugged his shoulders and said he would agree to whatever the committee wanted to do, likely never imagining that Sen. Jeff Flake (R-Ariz.) would appear the next day and declare he would not vote yes unless the FBI investigated all current charges against Kavanaugh.

Now we must wait and see how this drama plays out. The FBI report aside, Kavanaugh has already shown he lacks the temperament to sit on the Supreme Court. As a judge he obviously knows about standards of evidence, yet several times he falsely said that four witnesses had refuted Ford’s claims.

In reality, three had signed letters prepared by their respective lawyers claiming that they did not remember such an incident. Nothing was refuted, and the letters are no substitute for statements to the FBI under penalty of perjury or in-person testimony under oath to a Senate committee.

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The fact that the committee held its hearing without calling Mark Judge, the man whom Ford claims was in the room during the attack, is outrageous. Yet our senators concluded at the end of the day they needed no more facts to pass judgment on what happened.

Barrasso and Enzi are part of the “let’s get this confirmation completed as soon as possible and at all costs” contingent. It’s a marked position shift from their approach to President Obama’s Supreme Court pick, Merrick Garland. In that instance — in the absence of any disqualifying charges — they supported refusing to consider the nominee at all.

Based on their statements I have absolutely no faith that Wyoming’s senators would let anything the FBI finds get in the way of confirming Kavanaugh. While she doesn’t have a vote in the process, Rep. Liz Cheney (R-Wyo.) also defended Trump’s nominee by tweeting that “Judge Kavanaugh ferociously defended his innocence, his family and our constitutional system” as she lashed out at Democrats who dared to challenge him.

I’ve read several articles by political pundits who have argued about whose base will be energized in the midterm elections by the battle royale over Kavanaugh, and I could care less. For once let’s put partisan rancor aside in favor of learning the truth about what happened to Ford in that bedroom 36 years ago. The facts matter.

Whether or not he assaulted Ford 36 years ago is not the only thing that matters about Kavanaugh’s personal character and professional record, but at this point it’s what will determine whether he becomes Justice Anthony Kennedy’s successor.

I am unsurprised that I disagree with Barrasso and Enzi on Kavanaugh’s fitness for the high court. But I would like to believe, at least, that we all want the facts.

Perhaps I should know better by now.

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Kerry Drake

Veteran Wyoming journalist Kerry Drake has covered Wyoming for more than four decades, previously as a reporter and editor for the Wyoming Tribune-Eagle and Casper Star-Tribune. He lives in Cheyenne and...

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  1. We have the facts. Ford lied at least three times, and the rest were proven liars. She was proven to be a liar.
    This is about smearing an innocent person and denying due process. I noticed that you are silent about the Democrat from Hawaii saying that people, especially men, who disagree with her do not deserve due process.

  2. Unfortunately, every response I have ever gotten, on any issue, from Enzi and Barrasso has been a canned letter, toeing the extreme right Republican line. ON EVERY ISSUE! We will continue to be poorly served until such a time as both are removed from office and replaced by sentient beings.

  3. The issue that should automatically disqualify Kavanaugh for the SCOTUS seat has nothing to do with his behavior 36 years ago, or even 36 days ago, and everything to do with the behavior he displayed during his Senate hearing. That was no Honorable Judge sitting there, his face contorted in anger, jugular throbbing, raging away as his emotions got the worst of him. Grading his Demeanor , I would have given him a D- for his conduct in a formal hearing. Kavanaugh completely occluded whatever character, integrity, and judicial restraint he possesses with his livid outbursts, irrespective of what set him off.
    All you had to do was turn off the audio and just watch Kavanaugh and his body language. All wrong for the judicial temperament and dispassionate rule of law the job requires. Any novice HR job interviewer would have passed on Kavanaugh based on demeanor alone.
    But it was worse. Kavanaugh unilaterally without much prompting from the GOP stewards before him went off on slamming the Dems, the Clintons by name, and erupted with a conspiracy theory. It was suddenly heavily partisan, which a Supreme Court job interview should be anything but. ( Never mind that later that day Kavanaugh made himself available to Fox News to vent some more )

    Having been a bartender in a rough Wyoming town during the last oil boom, and getting an honorary Bachelor’s Degree in Sociology from observing all manner of the alcohol-fueled culture and cast of drinkers and drunks participating, I think I know a drinking problem when I see it. Kavanaugh is what the vernacular of the counseling trade would call a Dry Drunk. That being someone who once had a heavy drinking problem , and whom alcohol above a threshold brought out the worst of character. Think of it as your personal Blood Alcohol quotient… the saturation level that turns one from a mostly nice guy into a boorish jerk like flicking the Jekyll-Hyde switch. We all know dry drunks . They are everywhere, especially in small town and rural Wyoming. Do we really want one sitting on the highest court in the land making decisions that affect the country and the world. of course not.

    There must be many other more qualified less volatile candidates out there for the Federalist Society to choose from. Since the same GOP held up the nomination of Merrick Garland for over 400 days, and there is no Conctitutional clock to follow, why the rush ? Is packing the Supreme Court with compliant conservative minions really so important to the Republicans and Trump they are willing to put the SCOTUS nominating and confirmation process in utter abeyance , and in doing so insult us all ? Yes. This is all political now , and for all the wrong reasons.

    Enzi and Barrasso are all in on Kavanaugh, riding the Trump steamroller up the steps of the Supreme Court building to deliver their minion and cement the Court for years to come. It is political subversion in the Trump Era.

    Kavanaugh revealed his true colors to us all , and they are not pretty. The man should not be seated on SCOTUS. In fact, he should be removed from his DC Court of Appeals bench as well. Anyone at all can see that if they watched the man raging at the Senate hearing. His demeanor DQ’s him.

    Except Enzi and Barrasso will see none of it, hear none of it , and only speak to it with prepared statements affirming their own debauchery.

  4. I also received this canned response from Senator Enzi. It addressed none of my concerns about the Kavanaugh appointment.

    I personally know of one other person who received the form response.

  5. I watched the Clarence Thomas vs Anita Hill hearing in 1992 and I remember the senators asking their questions and making vague assertions all the while looking so disdainful. Our own Senator Simpson was there and I seem to remember an interview at some later date in which he stated that his wife took him to the woodshed afterwards for their treatment of Ms Hill. Maybe we need more wives of senators to speak up and educate their husbands on the nuances of sexual assault.

  6. We do have facts, Mr. Drake. We know that Senate Republicans don’t care whether Kavanaugh has a history of sexual assault and being an aggressive drunk. We know that they do not want to learn the facts or consider them. They are going through the motions, many of them, including Mitch McConnell and John Barrasso, already stating that they support Kavanaugh’s life time appointment to the highest court in the land regardless of what the FBI investigation finds. And we all saw for ourselves a most incredible display of resentment, bullying, and assertion of entitlement for men of a certain social class at the hearing last week. It is unimaginable that anyone witnessing that performance, complete with threats to get even when on the bench, aggression toward women senators, and reference to ridiculous conspiracy theories, would still consider Kavanaugh to have anything remotely resembling judicial temperament. We cannot hope to heal the divisions in our society if we continue to push every institution into battlegrounds of extremes,

    For those who keep saying that anyone who is falsely accused would act like Mr. Kavanaugh did, I offer this: every day we expect people of color to remain passive when accused, falsely or otherwise, by police even when those police treat them violently. We say that people of color deserve to be beaten or killed if they resist an accusation, but we say a white man of America’s aristocracy can rave as much as he wants against authority figures and should be rewarded with one of the most prestigious positions our country has to offer. In my experience, Kavanaugh’s behavior corresponds closely to someone accused of doing something when he believes himself to be above the rules that apply to others, not an assertion of innocence. Men’s anger often causes people to back off and they use it for that purpose.

  7. I emailed Sen. Enzi yesterday with my concerns about Kavanaugh’s lies and his disrespectful demeanor demonstrated during the hearing (although I have great concerns about the assault allegations as well, but felt that would fall on deaf ears). Today I received an email back from his office (fastest response ever to my emails). It was his canned response which word-for-word restated what he has on his website. It did not address my concerns in the least. I’d love to know if others have had this same response.

    1. Yes, Linda- the wordmasher intern on Enzi’s staff has been putting in overtime sending out those nearly identical cookie cutter responses to one and all. I saw the same Enzi sausage recipe all over my Facebook news feed. Enzi’s ” prompt personal response” is no more authentic than the FBI’s quick and shallow investigation. Sham-o-rama , not democracy.