On Saturday morning, the New York Times published a notable report on page A19, making it easy to overlook. It noted that Attorney General Bill Barr is scheduled to present the Attorney General's Award for Distinguished Service -- one of the Justice Department's most prestigious honors -- to the lawyers who worked to support Brett Kavanaugh's Supreme Court nomination last year.
It's a curious decision. CNN's Elie Honig, a former federal and state prosecutor, noted soon after, "What a joke. This prestigious award typically goes to prosecutors who make the biggest cases against terrorists, corrupt politicians, drug cartels, organized crime enterprises, etc. And now AG Barr is using it to honor ... Team Kavanaugh."
What's more, Bill Barr's timing could be better. As the Republican AG prepares to honor the lawyers who helped put Kavanaugh on the high court, questions surrounding Kavanaugh's background have returned to the fore.
A slew of prominent Democrats called on Congress to impeach Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh after allegations of sexual misconduct that had once threatened to torpedo his nomination to the bench resurfaced, even as President Donald Trump continued to defend him. [...]The new revelations came to light in an opinion-section article written by two New York Times reporters, published late Saturday, whose book on the Kavanaugh nomination will be released this week. In the book, which was summarized in Saturday's article, the authors wrote that they had found new corroboration for accusations that Kavanaugh exposed himself to Deborah Ramirez, a classmate at Yale. NBC News has not verified that reporting.
While Christine Blasey Ford's allegations and Senate testimony were the subject of intense scrutiny, the story surrounding Deborah Ramirez also generated headlines last September. According to a New Yorker piece published at the time, Ramirez "remembers Kavanaugh had exposed himself at a drunken dormitory party, thrust his penis in her face, and caused her to touch it without her consent as she pushed him away."
The New York Times piece added over the weekend, "During his Senate testimony, Mr. Kavanaugh said that if the incident Ms. Ramirez described had occurred, it would have been 'the talk of campus.' Our reporting suggests that it was."
The article added:
Ms. Ramirez's legal team gave the F.B.I. a list of at least 25 individuals who may have had corroborating evidence. But the bureau -- in its supplemental background investigation -- interviewed none of them, though we learned many of these potential witnesses tried in vain to reach the F.B.I. on their own.Two F.B.I. agents interviewed Ms. Ramirez, telling her that they found her "credible." But the Republican-controlled Senate had imposed strict limits on the investigation.
It's also important to note that the same New York Times report pointed to a previously reported story involving another one of Kavanaugh's former Yale classmates who says he saw Kavanaugh "with his pants down at a different drunken dorm party, where friends pushed his penis into the hand of a female student." The FBI did not investigate the story.
That said, the New York Times later updated its published piece online to note that the female student involved in this second alleged Yale incident "declined to be interviewed and friends say she does not recall the episode."
Given all of this, several prominent Democrats, including some presidential hopefuls, are publicly raising the specter of re-examining the Supreme Court justice's record and possibly impeaching Kavanaugh. (Removing the conservative jurist from the bench would require a supermajority in the Senate, which as a political matter, would be extremely difficult.)
There's also, of course, renewed discussion about the FBI's scrutiny of Kavanaugh's background before his confirmation.
And in case this isn't obvious, while the right is likely to argue the justice's alleged misdeeds as a student are no longer relevant decades later, I'd remind conservatives that part of the controversy involves Kavanaugh possibly having lied last year about his experiences.
Watch this space.