Chuck Todd: Maybe Kavanaugh Should Withdraw, Spare Country ‘Tinderbox’ Hearing

Appearing on Tuesday’s Today show, Meet the Press moderator Chuck Todd suggested that the best course of action for Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh might just be to withdraw rather than defend himself against sexual assault allegations during a public Senate hearing scheduled for Monday. The NBC News Political Director feared that any hearing would be a “tinderbox” that could “erupt a culture war.”

“Chuck, tell us what your gut tells you about this nomination. Is this thing in real trouble do you think?,” asked co-host Hoda Kotb. Todd replied: “I definitely think it’s in trouble.” He then advanced the case for Kavanaugh quitting the confirmation process: “I think nothing would surprise me, including him, by the end of the week, if Judge Kavanaugh decides he doesn’t want to go through this, it isn’t worth it, he doesn’t want to – maybe he can win but he doesn’t want an asterisk – I mean, it wouldn’t surprise me if he chose to withdraw and chose to back down.”

 

 

So whether Kavanaugh is actually guilty or not apparently doesn’t matter, the media will place an “asterisk” next to his name regardless.

Todd imagined some hypothetical information that would come out before the hearing:

I think a lot, frankly, will have to do with what more will we learn this week? You know, what is there – are there anybody – is there anybody else from their high school days that come out and seem to back one story or the other?...But I think if any little thing that we don’t know now comes out before that hearing on Monday, I don’t think the hearing happens.

He then warned: “Because if the hearing happens, boy, I think this is gonna be something that is fraught for peril for both political parties.”

Guthrie chimed in and predictably made the comparison to the Clarence Thomas hearing in 1991: “I mean, just the specter of a hearing, a public hearing. We have seen this before. Anita hill, Clarence Thomas, who could forget, a generation ago. What a high-wire act for both parties.”

Todd agreed and lamented that the Thomas-Hill hearing, in which Thomas was successful at defending himself from sexual harassment claims, “seemed to divide, not just this town, but this country.” The Sunday show host fretted that the Kavanaugh hearing would be worse:

This one, because we’re so close to an election, because of the Donald Trump era. This one feels like a tinderbox. It feels like four sticks of dynamite wrapped in radioactive material. It just feels like either side could see this erupt a culture war that defines the rest of the midterm election, the next six weeks, in a way that could totally scramble what the outcomes could be.

Guthrie emphasized: “And nobody knows, yeah, how it would all land.” Perhaps NBC is more concerned about a backlash against Democrats.

At least the network was the only one to identify Kavanaugh’s accuser and her attorney as Democratic activists on Monday.

Here is a full transcript of Todd’s September 18 appearance on NBC’s Today show:

7:06 AM ET

SAVANNAH GUTHRIE: Let’s turn to NBC’s Chuck Todd. Big moment in Washington. Chuck, good morning.

CHUCK TODD: Good morning.

HODA KOTB: Chuck, tell us what your gut tells you about this nomination. Is this thing in real trouble do you think?

TODD: I definitely think it’s in trouble. I think nothing would surprise me, including him, by the end of the week, if Judge Kavanaugh decides he doesn’t want to go through this, it isn’t worth it, he doesn’t want to – maybe he can win but he doesn’t want an asterisk – I mean, it wouldn’t surprise me if he chose to withdraw and chose to back down.

I think a lot, frankly, will have to do with what more will we learn this week? You know, what is there – are there anybody – is there anybody else from their high school days that come out and seem to back one story or the other? Is there other conversation? Is there other, not necessary allegations, but evidence that helped back one story or the other? I think a lot will depend on that this week.

But I think if any little thing that we don’t know now comes out before that hearing on Monday, I don’t think the hearing happens. Because if the hearing happens, boy, I think this is gonna be something that is fraught for peril for both political parties.

GUTHRIE: That is exactly my next question. I mean, just the specter of a hearing, a public hearing. We have seen this before. Anita hill, Clarence Thomas, who could forget, a generation ago. What a high-wire act for both parties.

TODD: It’s a high-wire act and I – and, you know, this one is actually in an election year. I remember that, I was here in Washington for that. And that wasn’t an election year, it was the beginning of a presidential campaign. And it seemed to divide, not just this town, but this country. This one, because we’re so close to an election, because of the Donald Trump era. This one feels like a tinderbox. It feels like four sticks of dynamite wrapped in radioactive material. It just feels like either side could see this erupt a culture war that defines the rest of the midterm election, the next six weeks, in a way that could totally scramble what the outcomes could be.

GUTHRIE: And nobody knows, yeah, how it would all land. Chuck, thank you very much, we’ll keep talking you to.

TODD: You got it, guys.

KOTB: Thanks, Chuck.


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