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Trying to impeach Kavanaugh will only raise questions about Ford

Is there any amount of fetching that goes too far for today’s Democrats? Shots across the bow about impeaching Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh suggest that we could soon find out.

For the past three weeks, the Senate ground to a halt as Kavanaugh was subjected to the most intense, most exhaustive judicial confirmation hearing in American history. That, however, was not enough for Rep. Jerrold Nadler (D-N.Y.), who has strongly implied that impeachment would be on the table if Democrats take the lower chamber in the midterms — an electoral outcome that would make Nadler chairman of the House Judiciary Committee.

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Are Democrats serious about this? I have my doubts. They have no realistic chance of removing Kavanaugh from the bench. Plus, pursuing impeachment would revive questions about Christine Blasey Ford, Kavanaugh’s main accuser. Democrats would probably prefer to leave those questions unanswered.

It is true that many House Democrats are zealots who would like to impeach Kavanaugh, and that the party would need only a simple majority in a Democrat-controlled House to file an article of impeachment or two. Still, the party’s few remaining cooler heads understand that impeaching Kavanaugh is a lunatic idea, talk of which is already firing up Republicans.

That renders it unlikely Democrats could get the votes they’d need in the House. Even if they did, they would they would need a two-thirds’ supermajority of the Senate to remove a justice from office. They would never get it, regardless of whether Republicans retain control (as is probable) or Democrats win a slim (and surprising) majority.

Bottom line: If Democrats tried to impeach Kavanaugh, they would surely fail, accomplishing only another public exhibition of how unhinged they are.

Before turning to the questions about Professor Ford, I should lay some cards on the table: I spent my formative years in the federal courtrooms of New York City, not at the Sigmund Freud Theater on Capitol Hill. Where I come from, we would look at the Ford-Kavanaugh dispute and draw a straightforward conclusion: Someone here is lying.

In Washington, to the contrary, senators managed to spend three weeks on Ford’s and Kavanaugh’s diametrically opposed, impossible-to-reconcile versions of events without confronting this critical, seemingly unavoidable fact. Instead, after watching, first, Ford’s trembling rendition of an atrocious attack and, then, Kavanaugh’s forceful denial, the Senate decided not to decide who was telling the truth.

It is a psychobabble default: We are to believe that Professor Ford is completely earnest, that she was undeniably subjected to a harrowing sexual assault, but that she has somehow misidentified her assailant — notwithstanding that she says she knew who Kavanaugh was before the attack and is “100 percent” certain he is the culprit.

Cowed by the “survivors must be believed” hooey — as if there were a link between X chromosomes and truth-telling — Republicans blithely went along, as if this preposterous mistaken-identity scenario were incontestable. Loud, aggressive hard-left activists had them afraid to confront Ford’s story … so they didn’t — and now they wonder why the media and Kavanaugh’s other critics keep pronouncing that the unconvincing, uncorroborated allegations against him are “credible.”

On the other hand, Kavanaugh is very persuasive in his indignant denials, and there is — if we may again mention this inconvenient fact — no support for Ford’s account, just her say-so. Just as no one in the Senate dared suggest that Ford might be lying, no one wanted to call Kavanaugh a liar to his face, either. As a result, we got more psychobabble: Kavanaugh occasionally drank beer to excess as a teenager, so maybe he tried to rape Ford in a drunken stupor (in front of a close friend of his) and, since no one mentioned it to him for 36 years, he can’t remember doing it.

Right.

It’s absurd. What happened here is simple. Either Ford is lying about being assaulted by Kavanaugh, or Kavanaugh is lying in denying it. But Washington somehow decided there was no need to resolve this central dilemma. So, we end up with a result that satisfies no one: Kavanaugh gets a pass, as an accused should, because the case against him is woefully weak — Ford’s account is not only unverified but rebutted by the supposed witnesses she has named; yet, Kavanaugh remains under a cloud of suspicion because his Senate supporters conceded Ford’s credibility even though, no matter how sincere she may seem, her story is not credible.

That, I believe, is as good as it can get for Democrats: They have succeeded in damaging Kavanaugh, even though they must accept that he is on the Supreme Court to stay. Yet, if they try to impeach him, the smear could be expunged. Smearing is not good enough in an impeachment effort; Democrats would have to prove — repeat, prove — that Kavanaugh has committed impeachable offenses. That is, they would have to prove that Ford is telling the truth.

I don’t think they can do it.

Ford cannot answer basic questions about the alleged assault incident, including how she got to the party and, more to the point, how she got home — many miles away — after escaping the bedroom and running out of the house. She has given multiple versions of when the supposed assault happened and, in her initial claims, 30 years after the fact, she did not name Kavanaugh. As noted above, the witnesses she cited do not support her account.

Moreover, her claims about claustrophobia and fear of flying appear to be specious; and, as Thomas Lipscomb details at RealClear Politics, Ford’s story about how and why there came to be a second front door to her home (which she attributed to “PTSD-like symptoms” from being attacked by Kavanaugh) is, to say the least, dubious. A number of other questions have not yet been asked, much less answered. Meanwhile, Ford has persisted in refusing to disclose to the Senate the notes of her polygraph and therapy sessions. (Ford maintains that she did not recover the memory of the attack through psychotherapy; it merely helped her understand the consequences. In a thoughtful column, also at RealClear Politics, Stuart Taylor explains why therapy notes can be highly relevant on this point.)

Interviewed by Fox News shortly before Kavanaugh’s confirmation on Saturday, Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Chuck GrassleyCharles (Chuck) Ernest GrassleyDems angered by GOP plan to hold judicial hearings in October American Bar Association dropping Kavanaugh review Clinton's security clearance withdrawn at her request MORE (R-Iowa) was noncommittal about whether he would pursue such questions (in addition to questions about how Ford’s allegations were leaked to the media). He’d like to get the committee back to bipartisan cooperation, he said, and restore his working relationship with Sen. Dianne FeinsteinDianne Emiel FeinsteinAmerican Bar Association dropping Kavanaugh review Juan Williams: Trump, the Great Destroyer Top Judiciary Dems call for unredacted 'zero tolerance' memo MORE of California, the senior Democrat. Clearly, having succeeded in getting Kavanaugh installed on the Supreme Court, Republicans are of a mind to let bygones be bygones.

In stark contrast, Democrats are talking impeachment. I suspect that once they’ve thought the matter through, that’s all it will ever be — talk. If not, many of Justice Kavanaugh supporters would welcome the opportunity to get some basic questions answered.

Former federal prosecutor Andrew C. McCarthy is a senior fellow at National Review Institute, a contributing editor at National Review and a Fox News contributor.