President Donald Trump's Supreme Court nominee, Brett Kavanaugh, gestures over his notes as he testifies on the third day of his Senate Judiciary Committee...
Jacquelyn Martin

American Bar Association calls for renewed FBI probe of Kavanaugh

Updated

After Donald Trump nominated Brett Kavanaugh for the Supreme Court, the American Bar Association does what it nearly always does: it offered its assessment of the jurist’s professional qualifications. As expected, the ABA’s panel voted unanimously to describe Kavanaugh as “well qualified” for the high court.

The finding came up a few times during yesterday’s hearing. When Sen. Mazie Hirono (D-Hawaii), for example, asked about the importance of temperament. Kavanaugh replied, “For 12 years, everyone who has appeared before me on the D.C. Circuit has praised my judicial temperament. That’s why I have the unanimous ‘well qualified’ rating from the American Bar Association.”

That followed a similar reference from Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.), who read from the ABA’s endorsement of Kavanaugh, and who described the American Bar Association as “the gold standard.”

If that’s true, the ABA’s latest recommendation should be difficult for Republicans to ignore.

Late Thursday, the American Bar Association urged the committee to postpone the vote until the FBI could conduct an investigation.

“Deciding to proceed without conducting additional investigation would not only have a lasting impact on the Senate’s reputation, but it will also negatively affect the great trust necessary for the American people to have in the Supreme Court,” ABA President Robert M. Carlson wrote in a letter to the committee.

By all appearances, Senate Republicans are about as interested in concerns from the ABA – the “gold standard,” according to Lindsey Graham – as they are in Kavanaugh’s accusers.

As things stand, the Senate Judiciary Committee will reconvene this morning, roughly 15 hours after yesterday’s marathon session, at which point the panel’s members will reportedly vote on whether to advance Kavanaugh’s nomination to the Senate floor. The panel is split, 11 Republicans to 10 Democrats, which means it would only take one GOP senator to break ranks and put Kavanaugh’s nomination in jeopardy.

We’ll learn in about an hour whether such a senator exists.

If not, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) will schedule a final confirmation vote. There are rumors this could come as early as tomorrow, but reports suggest action early next week is more likely.

It’s likely to depend on whether Senate Republican leaders are confident they have 51 votes. If, by this evening, McConnell thinks the votes are there, I imagine he’ll move quickly to hold the vote – before anyone changes his or her mind.