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Kavanaugh dogged by credibility concerns ahead of Senate hearing

At some point today, Kavanaugh will ask senators to trust him over his accusers. His credibility problems will make that very difficult.
Image: Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh confirmation hearing
epaselect epa06997422 Circuit judge Brett Kavanaugh is sworn in during his Senate confirmation hearing to be an Associate Justice of the Supreme Court of the...

In about an hour, the Senate Judiciary Committee will begin a rather extraordinary hearing with Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh and Dr. Christine Blasey Ford, with each testifying separately about an alleged sexual assault from the early 1980s. The conservative jurist will have to hope that senators consider him as credible as his accuser.

But none of this will unfold in a vacuum, and even before the public learned of the California professor's name two weeks ago, Kavanaugh had a rather serious problem: he's given ample reasons for everyone involved in the process to question his credibility.

A week ago, for example, the Washington Post took a close look at Kavanaugh's claim that he didn't know anything about Democratic documents stolen between 2001 and 2003, during his time in the Bush White House. By any fair measure, Kavanaugh's sworn testimony was plainly false -- the Post's fact-check said Kavanaugh's claims "defy logic" -- and under normal circumstances, this alone would create a real problem for his pending nomination.

Yesterday, as Politico  reported, the top Democrat on the Senate Judiciary Committee pointed to another area of concern.

The top Democrat on the Senate Judiciary Committee is accusing Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh of misleading the Senate about his handling of grand jury secrets while working for Independent Counsel Kenneth Starr two decades ago. [...]Sen. Dianne Feinstein told POLITICO that she has now identified another area in which she believes Kavanaugh was not truthful in communications with senators. She said that by directing officials to speak to reporters during the investigation of President Bill Clinton, Kavanaugh may have violated grand jury secrecy laws -- even though he told her and Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse (D-R.I.) he never broke those rules.

Obviously, the sexual-misconduct allegations against Kavanaugh are taking center stage right now, and for good reason. If the claims from his women accusers are accurate, most fair-minded observers can and should consider his conduct disqualifying.

But while those questions are explored in more detail, it's awfully difficult to give Kavanaugh the benefit of the doubt in this area given the number of unrelated areas in which he's apparently been far less than truthful.

Indeed, it's been a challenge to keep up on the volume of his purported falsehoods. Kavanaugh appears to have lied about his knowledge of the stolen documents and his possible violation of grand jury secrecy laws. There are also his apparent falsehoods about his role in Charles Pickering's and Bill Pryor's judicial nominations.

Kavanaugh has also been accused of lying about his knowledge of a warrantless-surveillance program. He's also been accused of lying about his role in an enhanced-interrogation program.

Sen. Pat Leahy (D-Vt.), who hardly has a reputation for throwing around reckless accusations, stated unequivocally that he believes Kavanaugh has given "untruthful testimony, under oath and on the record" -- and that was before he'd heard about allegations of sexual misconduct.

At some point today, the Supreme Court nominee will ask senators, either implicitly or explicitly, to trust him over his accusers. To believe that Kavanaugh has earned the benefit of the doubt is to overlook credible claims that he has already been dishonest with senators on more than a few occasions.