Who won the Brett Kavanaugh case

Trump's candidate for the Supreme Court : Brett Kavanaugh fights for his credibility

Donald Trump's candidate for the US Supreme Court, Brett Kavanaugh, comes under unexpectedly severe pressure over allegations of sexual harassment. According to a schedule published on Tuesday, the Senate Judiciary Committee should vote on the nomination of the arch-conservative lawyer for the Supreme Court on Friday. After a possible approval of the judiciary committee on Friday, the plenary session of the Senate has the final decision on the nomination of Trump's preferred candidate.

Three women are now known to accuse Kavanaugh of sexual harassment or showing off with erotic acts. The points in time are decades ago and relate to the youth and academic years. But in times of the "MeToo" movement, the allegations are politically explosive.

Shortly before the US Senate hearing on abuse allegations against Supreme Court candidate Brett Kavanaugh, the judge is faced with new allegations from the past. A Washington woman, Julie Swetnick, issued a statement through her lawyer on Wednesday accusing Kavanaugh of sexually molesting young women at various parties while drunk in the 1980s. He groped women and made suggestive comments.
Kavanaugh and others tried to fill women with adulterated drinks in order to make them mindless. These women were then abused in adjoining rooms. She herself was a victim of rape at such a party, writes Swetnick. Kavanaugh was also present at that party. Exactly what role Kavanaugh was supposed to have played in these events remained unclear in the declaration.

Kavanaugh and the Republicans who support him are also defending themselves with unusual measures. The 53-year-old gave a television interview on Trump's favorite channel Fox. It used to be unthinkable for a candidate judge to speak in the media during his Senate hearings. With his wife Ashley Estes Kavanaugh by his side, he categorically and sharply denied the allegations. This is a smear campaign. He will defend his integrity and not withdraw his application. His wife asked for consideration how such unproven public allegations affect the two underage daughters Margaret and Liza.

Why the dispute is so significant

A replacement in the Supreme Court, which seemed a sure thing given the Republican majority in Congress, suddenly becomes a multi-variable, uncertain outcome. Who is more credible, the accused or his accusers? Do the citizens get the impression that these are party-politically staged accusations by women voters of the Democrats? In addition, there are allegations that the Democrats wanted to delay the vote on Kavanaugh's appointment as judge until after the November 6th congressional election in the hope of overturning the majority in the Senate. It could also turn out differently if the public mood now turns against Trump's conservative candidate. He was already controversial because he is considered a tough opponent of abortion. Is the outwardly highly moral claim of the Republicans in the selection of judges now becoming a boomerang?

The dispute also offers entertainment, because dealing with sex, which is supposed to have taken place or not, is openly discussed in supposedly prudish America and allows the division of society to break out again into camps, one of which propagates abstinence before marriage, another believes freedom of movement is normal and still others fight for the rights of sexual minorities. In addition, the lawyer Michael Avenatti is involved, who also represents the porn actress Stormy Daniels and is toying with a candidacy against Trump.

What allegations the women make

The first to answer was Christine Blasey Ford, a professor of psychology from California. In 1982, the then 17-year-old Kavanaugh tried to rape her at a school party, she wrote to the Senate committee, which is responsible for hearing candidate judges. He lay down on her, tried to take off her clothes, and covered her mouth. A friend got her out of the situation. The Washington Post reported on their presentation. Kavanaugh denies the incident.

First, Blasey Ford and the Democrats demanded that the FBI investigate the allegation as a neutral authority; the appointment process in the Senate should be suspended for so long. It has now been agreed that she and Kavanaugh will testify in the Senate on Thursday. The Democrats must avoid the impression that the time gained by an FBI investigation is more important to them than a quick resolution of the allegations.

Then came a second accusation, from Deborah Ramirez. While studying at Yale, Kavanaugh undressed at a party in the dormitory with a lot of alcohol consumption and shoved her penis in her face, she told The New Yorker magazine. Kavanaugh says he never did anything like that. The other party attendees could not remember the alleged incident. If it had existed, the whole campus would have been talking about it.

The third case is ambiguous and also relates to school time. Kavanaugh attended an elite Catholic boys' school, Georgetown Prep, played on the football team, and was the captain of the basketball team. The 1983 yearbook shows a photo of the athletes who introduce themselves there as "Renate Alumni". This name, they say, comes from the fact that they all boasted that they had something with Renate Schroeder, a student at a nearby Catholic girls' school. When asked, this should have been limited to flirting, going out, dancing. Kavanaugh now claims that he only kissed her goodnight at most. It didn't even get that far, says Schroeder today. Since knowing the texts in the yearbook, she has complained that the choice of words in which she was spoken of is painful and shameful. When she was new to the texts, she and 63 other women had signed a letter of support for Kavanaugh's appointment as Chief Justice.

What role puritanism, prudery and "MeToo" play

The allegations and defense attempts show how much the way people deal with sexuality in the USA has changed since the 1980s. At that time there was a tight atmosphere with strict rules. On the other hand, under the influence of alcohol there were attacks that were difficult to excuse. Thanks to the "MeToo" movement, the Republicans now for the most part do not dare to attack the defendants of Kavanaugh personally. Their attacks are directed against the Democrats and the media.

Of course, Kavanaugh makes sure that in his defense he maintains the image of the man abstaining until marriage. “I didn't have intercourse in school and for many years afterwards - and nothing that comes close to intercourse,” he says.

The majority in the Senate

Republicans have a slim majority of 51 to 49 votes. In the event of a tie, Vice President Mike Pence, a Republican, has the casting vote. So the Republicans could allow themselves one or two dissenters. But the party leadership cannot blindly rely on up to four: Susan Collins from Maine and Lisa Murkowski from Alaska, who have opposed Trump in other votes and also embody female empathy; Jeff Flake from Arizona, who no longer competes and no longer has to be considerate; Dean Heller from Nevada, who is running for re-election in a state that voted for Hillary Clinton in 2016. They are all paying attention to how the public mood is evolving and must be extremely careful about what to do. Another woman incriminating Kavanaugh, or a Trump tweet outraging voters, can cloud the candidate's prospects. Conversely, information that undermines the credibility of Christine Blasey Ford or Deborah Ramirez or creates the impression that they acted out of partisan motives would help Republicans. Kavanaugh's fate is at risk.

Now new: We give you 4 weeks of Tagesspiegel Plus! To home page