Van Hollen: Democrats Didn't Overreach on Kavanaugh

October 14, 2018

Sen. Chris Van Hollen (D., Md.) said on Sunday that Democrats didn't overreach during the confirmation process for Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh.

"Well, I don't think Democrats overreached," Van Hollen told "Face the Nation" host John Dickerson. "Democrats wanted a thorough FBI investigation, and in the end it was [Senate Majority Leader] Mitch McConnell who really cut that short, did not allow a full investigation."

Senate Democrats attempted to block Kavanaugh's confirmation by using allegations of sexual misconduct lodged against him in the final days of his confirmation process. The allegations went back to when he was in high school and college. Democrats focused their efforts on the allegations in an attempt to galvanize opposition and put pressure on Republicans such as Sens. Susan Collins (Maine) and Jeff Flake (Ariz.). Both Flake and Collins ended up voting for Kavanaugh; Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R., Alaska) was the only Republican senator who did not.

Kavanaugh's first accuser, Christine Blasey Ford, told the Washington Post that Kavanaugh, then a junior in high school, attacked her when they were at a party in Maryland in the early 1980s. A second allegation came from a woman named Deborah Ramirez who accused Kavanaugh of exposing himself at a dorm party during his freshman year at Yale. Another allegation was brought forth from a woman named Julie Swetnick, who is represented by anti-Trump lawyer Michael Avenatti. Swetnick claimed Kavanaugh was involved in a series of "gang rapes" when he was in high school, but she offered no additional evidence or witnesses to support her allegations, and she later walked back her claims.

Kavanaugh vehemently denied all accusations and no witnesses or other evidence corroborated the alleged assaults. Some Democrats said the party seemed to go too far attacking Kavanaugh given the evidence.

Since the Kavanaugh hearings, polls have found an increase in enthusiasm for Republican voters to vote in the upcoming midterms.

"What I've seen, actually, is that the Kavanaugh hearings have actually energized a lot of Democrats, especially younger voters and women voters. Yes, they energized some Republicans," Van Hollen said.

Senate Democrats called the allegations credible, with several stating Kavanaugh doesn't get the presumption of innocence. As the allegations remained uncorroborated and holes developed in accusations, Democrats and those opposed to his confirmation shifted focus to questions over Kavanaugh's judicial temperament and history of drinking beer.

Republican senatorial candidates in red states have used Kavanaugh as wedge issue against incumbent Democratic senators like Sen. Claire McCaskill (D., Mo.) and Sen. Heidi Heitkamp (D., N.D.).