I still really want to know the truth,” my colleague Ross Douthat wrote last week, after the Senate hearing on the allegations against Brett Kavanaugh. What a quaint notion: the truth. It is probably never fully knowable all these years later, as Ross wrote, but there are still witnesses and information that can get us closer to understanding what happened.
That simple standard — what happened — is the only one that should be guiding the F.B.I. investigation. And yet it does not seem to be.
The details of the investigation remain maddeningly unclear this morning. The White House, working with Senate Republicans, appear to have put strict limits on what the F.B.I. can do. It can’t follow whatever leads it believes are more likely to shed light on Christine Blasey Ford’s account of an attempted sexual assault by Kavanaugh during high school. If media reports are correct, the F.B.I. has instead been given a proscribed set of orders.
Politicians are apparently telling professional investigators how to do their jobs.
It’s one more depressing sign that Senate Republicans and the Trump administration are not really interested in finding what did, or did not happen, between Kavanaugh and Blasey.
His supporters should be as unhappy with these restrictions as hers, as The Washington Post’s Megan McArdle highlights. A thorough F.B.I. investigation may well turn up information that validates his account or “that can cast doubt on the reliability of [Blasey’s] memories,” McArdle writes. “So unshackle the F.B.I. Offer Senate assistance with subpoenas. Investigate everything.”
“Limiting the investigation to credible allegations of assault is reasonable,” writes Susan Hennessey of Brookings Institution. “The White House dictating which witnesses can be interviewed is an absolute farce.”
In Current Affairs, Nathan J. Robinson explains why the falsehoods that Kavanaugh appears to have told in his Senate testimony — including those that seem unrelated to Blasey — should affect people’s views of the allegation, just as they would in any other case involving witness reliability.
One of the best things I’ve read on this story is a Twitter thread by MIT’s Ezra Zuckerman Sivan. Citing academic research, he explains why partisans are often willing to overlook obvious lies in order to express what they believe to be larger truths.
The full Opinion report from The Times follows, including James ComeyCharles Blow and the editorial board on the Kavanaugh nomination.