Some of Brett Kavanaugh‘s most stalwart defenders appeared to be hedging their bets after a third woman, Julie Swetnick, came forward with disturbing allegations against the already embattled U.S. Supreme Court nominee.
The Judicial Crisis Network (JCN) is the foremost group supporting Republican nominees to the nation’s federal court system at various levels, including the high court, and has so far led the charge in favor of Kavanaugh’s nomination and confirmation after his name was supplied to President Donald Trump by the Federalist Society’s Leonard Leo–who is also a co-founder of JCN.
On Wednesday, JCN’s chief counsel and policy director Carrie Severino was surprisingly non-committal about Kavanaugh’s prospects when pressed on the issue following the release of Swetnick’s sworn affidavit. During an interview on MSNBC, host Craig Melvin asked, “Should Judge Kavanaugh still be confirmed?”
Severino refused to say yes or no. After a brief pause, she replied:
I think we have to look into this further. But I think, from what we know so far, we don’t have corroboration yet. And, so I think, if the Senate votes on this soon, I think they would have to go on what they know so far. But I know the Senate Judiciary Committee is going to look into this before they would move forward to a vote.
The shift in tone here is notable. Severino previously took to Kavanaugh’s defense on CNN by controversially describing Christine Blasey Ford‘s attempted rape allegation as “a whole range of conduct from boorishness to rough horse play to actual attempted rape.”
Media figures on Twitter immediately noted the disconnect.
Think Progress editor Ian Millhiser tweeted, “It is literally her job to get Donald Trump’s nominees confirmed…He’s toast.” The Wrap’s media editor Jon Levine said “Severino appear to be wavering” in her support for Kavanaugh.
But that wasn’t all that had Kavanaugh critics doubting his well-funded support group.
While noting the Severino hedge, Open Secrets researcher Anna Massoglia reported that JCN had stopped running Facebook ads in support of their preferred Supreme Court nominee as of Tuesday. This was later confirmed by Campaign Legal Center’s Reform Program Director Brendan Fischer.
— Brendan Fischer (@brendan_fischer) September 26, 2018
Severino’s comments, taken in tandem with that pause in JCN’s advertising on behalf of Kavanaugh, led to a rush of speculation about whether the battlements were perhaps being abandoned in light of the numerous sexual assault claims.
After that brief onslaught of Twitter attention however, Severino clarified that she and her group still “fully support Judge Kavanaugh and look forward to his confirmation.”
Not true. The further examination I referred to is the SJC asking Avenatti to submit any corroborating evidence they have, something they asked for days ago and he has yet to do. Our ads are still up and we still fully support Judge Kavanaugh and look forward to his confirmation. https://t.co/8zWPwtLcgD
— Carrie Severino (@JCNSeverino) September 26, 2018
As for those paused Facebook ads? They’ve since been reactivated.
[image via SAUL LOEB/AFP/Getty Images]