Sen. Lindsey Graham came ready to play.
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The South Carolina Republican was first Thursday to break ranks with his GOP colleagues on the Senate Judiciary Committee and not yield his time to Rachel Mitchell, the sex crimes bureau chief for the Maricopa County Attorney’s Office in Phoenix, Ariz., during a hearing with Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh.
Kavanaugh appeared before the senators on Thursday to respond to allegations he sexually abused Christine Blasey Ford when they were both high school student in the early 1980s. Kavanaugh fielded questions regarding separate accusations of sexual misconduct, including that he once exposed himself during a drinking game at Yale and that he participated in violent gang-rapes when he was roughly 15-years-old. The judge also had to explain the meaning of entries written on his personal calendar from 1982, inside-jokes featured in his high school yearbook, and the meaning of slang words he and his childhood friends used.
By the time it was Graham’s turn to question the witness, he appeared genuinely furious at his Democratic colleagues’ questions.
“If you wanted a FBI investigation, you could have come to us. What you want to do is destroy this guy’s life, hold this seat open and hope you win in 2020. You’ve said that, not me. You’ve got nothing to apologize for,” he shouted.
He added, “When you see [Justices Sonia Sotomayor and Elena Kagan], tell them that Lindsey said hello because I voted for them. I would never do to them what you’ve done to this guy. This is the most unethical sham since I’ve been in politics. And if you really wanted to know the truth, you sure as hell wouldn’t have done what you’ve done to this guy.”
The senator spent most of his turn excoriating his Democratic colleagues, accusing them of running a sham interrogation and of cruelly and mercilessly slandering an innocent man.
“I cannot imagine what you and your family have gone through,” he said, directing his comments at Kavanaugh.
Graham then turned his attention to the Democrats, saying, “Boy, you all want power. God, I hope you never get it. I hope the American people can see through this sham. That you knew about it and you held it. You had no intention of protecting Dr. Ford; none.”
“She’s as much of a victim as you are. God, I hate to say it because these have been my friends. But let me tell you, when it comes to this, you’re looking for a fair process? You came to the wrong town at the wrong time, my friend,” he added.
It was a speech full of fire and fury. Whether it signified anything is yet to be seen:
Maybe Graham's speech, along with Kavanaugh's own emotional opening statement, will be enough to turn the tide in Kavanaugh's favor. We shall see.