Kavanaugh hearings continue to reverberate as FBI probe begins

As the FBI begins its investigation into the allegations against Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh, both sides are gearing up for a down-to-the-wire, bare-knuckled brawl with a critical seat on the Supreme Court at stake.

At an event Monday, Sen. Bob Menendez appeared to be overcome with emotion as he talked about what the past week has been like in the wake of the dramatic Judiciary Committee testimony from both Christine Blasey Ford and Brett Kavanaugh.

“How many women have taken me aside,” said Sen. Bob Menendez, “at events that we’ve had to tell me their experiences.”

Whether he was genuinely reflecting the emotion of the times or playing his partisan part in the debate over who to believe, Menendez — flanked by victims’ rights advocates — called for an expansion of the parameters of the FBI investigation. Monday, President Trump said he was OK with the FBI interviewing whomever they thought appropriate, even while standing by his man.

“This is our seventh investigation of a man, who has really, you look at his life until this happened, what a change he’s gone through, what his family’s gone through. The trauma for a man that’s never had any accusation, he’s never had a bad statement about him. I think he was number one in his class at Yale. He was number one in his law school at Yale, and then what he’s gone through over the last three weeks is incredible,” said Trump.

The divisions exposed by the Kavanaugh hearings gave pause to potential Republican swing votes, mainly Sen. Jeff Flake of Arizona — who was the first Republican to call for the FBI investigation — as well as Sens. Lisa Murkowski of Alaska and Susan Collins of Maine. The debate has inspired high-profile women, like New Jersey Senate Majority Leader Loretta Weinberg and presidential adviser Kellyanne Conway to share their stories of sexual abuse.

“The people in positions of power, that say to one survivor, and therefore to all survivors, ‘I believe something happened to you, but only to the extent that this belief won’t disrupt my status, only to the extent that while the cameras are watching, I’ll feign a compassionate response to your disclosure, but rest assured your truth won’t change my commitment to maintain the status quo,'” said Patricia Teffenhart, executive director for the New Jersey Coalition Against Sexual Assault.

“There are 15-year-olds out there right now who have experienced this and are watching to see how this case is handled. They need to hear and see that they will be believed and supported,” said Sarah McMahon, director of the Center on Violence Against Women and Children.

The national focus on this issue has permeated into almost every walk of life, from the halls of political power to the halls of high schools across the country. As we saw Monday, with the president shifting gears and allowing the expansion of the FBI investigation, the week ahead will likely be filled with more twists and turns.