GOP Strategist Ron Bonjean Discusses Kavanaugh Hearings NPR's Mary Louise Kelly talks with GOP strategist Ron Bonjean about the continuing controversy surrounding Supreme Court nominee Judge Brett Kavanaugh.

GOP Strategist Ron Bonjean Discusses Kavanaugh Hearings

GOP Strategist Ron Bonjean Discusses Kavanaugh Hearings

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NPR's Mary Louise Kelly talks with GOP strategist Ron Bonjean about the continuing controversy surrounding Supreme Court nominee Judge Brett Kavanaugh.


All right, I want to bring in Ron Bonjean. He has had a long career working for Republicans on Capitol Hill both in the House and in the Senate. He was the communications strategist for the confirmation of Justice Neil Gorsuch. And he joins me now. Ron Bonjean, welcome.

RON BONJEAN: Thanks. It's great to be here.

KELLY: Good to have you with us. Your quick take on a third woman - Julie Swetnick, as we just heard - coming forward today - what impact do you think that might have on this nomination?

BONJEAN: Well, I'll tell you the Senate Judiciary Committee is going to interview Kavanaugh about this third accuser. That interview may have already happened. As we know, Kavanaugh has said he doesn't know her and doesn't know anything about these allegations and says it's from "The Twilight Zone." It looks very strange and very odd that throughout this process, the day before a hearing, that we have Michael Avenatti, who is sort of the...

KELLY: Her attorney.

BONJEAN: Her attorney is sort of well-known as a P.T. Barnum of left-wing - you know, left-wing politics, has come forward with this.

KELLY: You're raising questions about the timing, although as we just heard there from Ryan Lucas, this is a sworn declaration she has given under penalty of perjury. This is serious.

BONJEAN: Oh, absolutely. This is a very serious thing. But what we don't understand is why they didn't come forward before. He's had an entire hearing, background investigations. None of these people, including Avenatti with this client, ever came forward until...

KELLY: Avenatti has said in recent days that he has been waiting for his client to be ready to talk. But let me - big picture game out - what Kavanaugh's strategy has looked like heading into this key hearing tomorrow - he has, as we know, denied all the allegations. He has denied Christine Blasey Ford, the original woman who came forward - has denied her allegations, he says, immediately, unequivocally, categorically. I want to ask you, is there a risk to such a sweeping denial?

BONJEAN: Well, that's absolutely right. But it also shows strong conviction. If he believes that he didn't do these things, if he knows that he didn't do these things and is saying it, then that's very clear to Republican senators that are deciding his fate. And tomorrow, it's for him to show these senators that he stands by those words. It's also going to be up to see whether or not Dr. Ford can provide any credible evidence of a 36-year-old claim. Everything else - teenage beer-drinking, protests, prep school culture - that's just noise. You have to have evidence of a sexual assault.

KELLY: You're saying she has a burden of proof as the accuser bringing this forward to lay out some evidence. And we will see how that unfolds. Let me turn you to Republican strategy starting with President Trump, who has cast doubts on the accounts of all three women. Is that a wise strategy?

BONJEAN: Well, I think he's casting doubt on the fact that all this has come now at the very end of a very long process. And it seems and looks politically contrived that, you know, Democrats outed Dr. Ford's letter without her consent and then used - started using that as a political weapon against the nomination process - against Kavanaugh. And then you had a New Yorker story reporting about a second accuser, which looks half-baked, has lots of holes. And Republicans, at that point, didn't take it seriously, A - B, angered them. And it created a rally effect from people across the conservative base. Those, even, who are never...

KELLY: But briefly, does it become trickier, as you just laid out, as these allegations accumulate? It's one thing to say one woman cast, you know, cast out on her account. There are now three, including this latest sworn statement.

BONJEAN: That's exactly why Republicans are saying that this is most likely a conspiracy to take down Kavanaugh because you're looking at a pattern. And oddly enough, each one of these - if you look at each one of these accusers, there are lots of holes in their - in what they've provided in their stories, and it's just something that isn't very credible to our side.

KELLY: I have one more question - one more answer I want from you. On a scale of 1 to 10, how confident are you that Kavanaugh will survive this and be confirmed to the Supreme Court?

BONJEAN: I'd have to give that a solid 8. It depends on several Republican moderate senators who are going to decide his fate.

KELLY: And on how things play out tomorrow. OK, Republican strategist Ron Bonjean - he's a partner at the public affairs firm Rokk Solutions. Thanks very much.

BONJEAN: Thank you.

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