In Monday’s New York Times lead story on the continuing Kavanaugh controversy, reporters Michael Shear and Robin Pogrebin showed The Times eagerly marching down the field in step with the Democrats as they moved the goalposts on the FBI inquiry, which they once demanded but now consider insufficiently broad: “Democrats Irked By Limits Placed On F.B.I.’s Inquiry – Seeking Wider Purview – Interviews Meant to Stop Kavanaugh Fight May Close by Monday.” The online headline was more dismissive: “Democrats Denounce Limits on F.B.I.’s Kavanaugh Inquiry as a ‘Farce.’
Suddenly the FBI is not so cool among Democrats (and the NYT). The story led with the latest micro-scandal regarding Beer-gate:
The F.B.I. moved on Sunday to quickly complete an abbreviated investigation into allegations of sexual misconduct against Judge Brett M. Kavanaugh, even as Democrats demanded more information about the inquiry’s scope, warning that its apparent constraints could make it a “farce.”
As agents conducted their review, which involves interviewing four potential witnesses, a college professor in North Carolina became the latest in a series of former Yale classmates of Judge Kavanaugh’s to accuse him of giving untruthful testimony by minimizing his use of alcohol when he was a student.
The professor, Chad Ludington, said he frequently saw Judge Kavanaugh “staggering from alcohol consumption” during their student years. He said he planned to tell his story to the F.B.I. at its office in Raleigh, N.C., on Monday. A spokesman for the White House declined to comment on Mr. Ludington’s allegations.
In contrast Byron York at the Washington Examiner pointed out the thinness of the Ludington scoop:
In the last 48 hours, immediately after Senate Republicans and President Trump agreed to Democratic demands that the FBI investigate the 1982 incident, the Kavanaugh goalposts have moved dramatically....The problem is, there is nothing in Ludington's statement that actually contradicts Kavanaugh's testimony. As noted, Kavanaugh testified that he drank plenty. And Ludington did not say that he, Ludington, ever witnessed Kavanaugh blacked out or passed out from alcohol. It is unclear what, if anything, the FBI would do with such a presentation from Ludington.
Alas, there was no such sweet reasoning could penetrate The Times’ sudden puritanism regarding alcohol:
But the investigation’s apparent narrow reach has infuriated the judge’s critics, who said he should be subjected to a wide-ranging examination of his drinking and possible sexual misconduct.
Note that “drinking” is now the lead investigative concern for the paper, conveniently dovetailing with how Democrats on the Judiciary Committee want it (when they’re not focusing on generation-old yearbook slang), as evidence for Kavanaugh as a rapist has failed to appear:
In testimony before the Senate Judiciary Committee on Thursday, Judge Kavanaugh also denied the possibility that he had ever been blackout drunk, a state that implies memory loss, despite consciousness. But Mr. Ludington, a former basketball player at Yale, said in a statement that he could “unequivocally say” that Judge Kavanaugh had “not told the truth.”
Shear and Pogrebin also made an admission that seems to render the story rather pointless:
It is not unusual for the White House to specify the scope of a request for additional background information on a nominee. No evidence has emerged that the White House has forbidden any investigative steps, and President Trump has said he wants agents “to interview whoever they deem appropriate, at their discretion.”
In any case, the White House on Monday authorized the FBI to expand the investigation if needed:
A number of people who overlapped with Judge Kavanaugh at Yale or at Georgetown Preparatory School, the Catholic high school he attended -- and who contacted the F.B.I. this weekend to share information about him or his fraternity -- expressed frustration with the limited scope of the background investigation.
As Democrats tried to sound alarms that the White House may be constraining the F.B.I.’s work, one key member of the party indicated that if the Democrats won control of the House in November and Judge Kavanaugh made it through the Senate, he would have no choice but to more fully investigate the claims against him.
Rep. Jerrod Nadler (D-NY) would simply have “no choice” but to investigate a sitting Supreme Court Justice’s beer drinking in high school and college? That’s dubious.