In his second scathing speech from the Senate floor in as many weeks, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell on Monday predicted that Democrats wanted nothing less than a "totally unbounded fishing expedition of indefinite duration" into the accusations against Supreme Court Brett Kavanaugh in order to "delay this matter past the election."
Comparing Senate Democrats' behavior to Mccarthyism, McConnell, R-Ky., vowed there would be a final vote on Kavanaugh's confirmation in the Senate this week, saying "the time for endless delay and obstruction has come to a close."
Almost immediately after the FBI started its additional review of Kavanaugh, top Democrats who had demanded the probe openly suggested the bureau would be improperly influenced by the White House, and that its investigation lacked legitimacy. For his part, President Trump has said he authorized the FBI to interview "whoever they deem appropriate."
"If you listen carefully, Mr. President, you can practically hear the sounds of the Democrats moving the goalposts," McConnell said. He added later: "Their goalposts keep shifting. But their goal hasn't moved an inch. Not an inch.
"Do these actions suggest this has ever been about finding the truth?" McConnell asked. "Anybody believe that?"
Louisiana Republican Sen. John Kennedy, a member of the Judiciary Committee, answered in the negative later in the day, telling Fox News, "If you think this is a search for the truth, you probably ought to put down the bong. .. This entire thing makes me want to heave. it could be a series on Netflix. You could call it, 'As The Stomach Turns.'”
McConnell also outwardly mocked Democrats and commentators for suggesting that Kavanuagh's impassioned defense against the allegations against him suggested that he lacked the necessary "temperament" to sit on the Supreme Court.
Speaking before McConnell, for example, Sen. Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., charged that Kavanaugh had unleashed a disqualifying "partisan screed" in his opening statements. Schumer also accused Kavanaugh of blaming the "revenge of the Clintons" for his predicament, when in fact Kavanaugh attributed the situation in part to those seeking revenge "on behalf of the Clintons," citing his time working on the Ken Starr investigation into Bill Clinton's sexual misconduct.
"Their goalposts keep shifting. But their goal hasn't moved an inch."
"Maybe we'll hear the real issue is not these uncorroborated allegations of misconduct after all, but rather the fact that Judge Kavanaugh -- now listen to this -- drank beer in high school, and in college," McConnell said. "Or the fact he was rightfully angry -- who wouldn't be? -- that his good name and his family have been dragged through the mud with a campaign of character assassination based on allegations that lacked any corroboration."
Kavanaugh admitted during his testimony Thursday that he sometimes drank "too many" beers in high school, and suggested that he had at points gone to sleep intoxicated. At all times, Kavanaugh has denied sexually assaulting anyone, and rejected suggestions that he had ever "blacked out" from intoxication -- which some of his former classmates have since questioned, while acknowledging they had never actually witnessed him doing so.
In his speech, McConnell again hammered Senate Democrats for apparently allowing Christine Ford's allegations against Kavanaugh to leak to the media just days before a crucial September Judiciary Committee vote on his confirmation, after receiving a letter from Ford in July. Feinstein has denied leaking the letter, and her claim has been backed up by Ryan Grim, the D.C. bureau chief of The Intercept, which first reported on the letter's existence.
Grim is an avowed anti-Kavanaugh journalist, and falsely tweeted on Saturday that Kavanaugh had lied about not having connections to Yale Law School during his testimony Thursday. Kavanaugh's grandfather attended Yale undergraduate, which former admissions officials at Yale Law School have said would have no bearing on his application to the law school.
With one major exception, all Senate Judiciary Committee Democrats on Monday demanded the FBI investigate two dozen specific witnesses as part of the agency's expanded background check into Kavanaugh.
In an exhaustive letter, the Democrats called on federal investigators to probe "all three credible accusations" against the nominee -- including claims made by Ford, Deborah Ramirez, and Julie Swetnick, who has suggested, without corroboration, that the judge participated in gang rapes.
But significantly, Chris Coons, D-Del., a key Democratic member of the Judiciary Committee, did not sign the Democrats' letter. Coons has appeared several times publicly with Arizona Republican Sen. Jeff Flake since the two brokered a dramatic arrangement to delay a vote on Kavanaugh's confirmation pending a supplemental FBI investigation.
In an interview on CBS News' "60 Minutes" on Sunday, Coons appeared with Flake, who reiterated his belief that Kavanaugh was telling the truth, as well as his openness to reviewing the FBI's conclusions later this week.
“When I heard him, I heard someone who I hope I would sound like, if I had been unjustly accused,” Flake, considered a crucial swing vote on Kavanaugh's nomination, said. “If I was unjustly accused, that’s how I would feel, as well.”
Still, there were indications that even Flake's last-minute bipartisan appeal had fallen flat among far-left circles. On Saturday, Flake was met with a smattering of boos and expletives when he spoke to a crowd at the Global Citizen Festival in New York City.
The Potomac Village Safeway, where accuser Christine Blasey Ford claimed she saw Kavanaguh friend Mark Judge in the weeks after her alleged attack, is among the potential "witnesses" on the Democrats' list of individuals and entities whom the FBI should interview. So, too, are Judge, the polygraph examiner who interviewed Ford, and James Roche, Kavanaugh's estranged college roommate who has claimed Kavanaugh drank to excess.
The expansive list highlighted Democrats' apparent effort to broaden the inquiry into Kavanaugh beyond the sexual misconduct allegations against him to focus instead on whether he misled Senate investigators by denying that he had ever "blacked out" from drinking.
Other Democrats have sought to expand the scope of the FBI's probe in recent days.
Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders wrote in a weekend letter that the FBI should do more than just probe the accusations, but also should conduct an investigation into whether Kavanaugh was honest during his hearing. He called for investigating whether Kavanaugh committed perjury, "given the very serious fact that lying to Congress is a federal crime."
"A fundamental question the FBI can help answer is whether Judge Kavanaugh has been truthful with the committee,” Sanders said. “This goes to the very heart of whether he should be confirmed to the court.”
In other cases, Democrats who enthusiastically called for an FBI investigation last week now seem to be downplaying it.
“Yes, of course there should be an FBI investigation,” Connecticut Sen. Chris Murphy tweeted Friday. “But whatever they find doesn’t change the fact that Kavanaugh, especially after his performance yesterday, is the most dangerous Supreme Court pick of our lifetime.”
And Sen. Mazie Hirono, D-Hawaii, on Sunday refused to answer whether Democrats had leaked Ford's letter, and instead suggested the FBI would conduct a "farce" of a probe.
Fox News' Alex Pappas contributed to this report.