Ex-US Attorney schools MSNBC conservative for blaming Democrats for Kavanaugh debacle
John Podhoretz and Joyce White Vance (MSNBC)

A conservative commentator on MSNBC's "Morning Joe" insisted sexual assault allegations against Brett Kavanaugh may have been cooked up to keep him off the U.S. Supreme Court, but a former U.S. Attorney explained why his argument was ridiculous.

John Podhoretz, editor of Commentary magazine, argued the stakes were too high not to consider the possibility that Christine Blasey Ford might have made up her claims, which he compared to the unsolicited tips any journalist receives from anonymous cranks.

"A certain standard has changed when you're talking about a lifetime appointment to the Supreme Court, an enormous political matter, in which people might be seeking the course of American history as private citizens by making false allegations," Podhoretz said.

But Joyce White Vance, the former U.S. Attorney for the Northern District of Alabama, said his argument showed why a more thorough investigation should be conducted than what Senate Republicans are willing to approve.

"Not everything is good and not everything is bad," she said. "That's why you need investigators who can tell the difference."

Podhoretz speculated that perhaps Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-CA) had "tabled" a letter written by Ford detailing the allegations for maximum political impact, but Vance reminded him the accuser had not been willing to come forward publicly at that point.

"Or not," Podhoretz speculated.

"Well, everybody is on record as saying that," Vance said. "It's about the request for anonymity."

Podhoretz said the Democratic senator should have immediately forwarded the letter to the FBI, instead of waiting until confirmation hearings had begun.

"The presumption, if she is telling the truth, is that it didn't go somewhere because people were negligent in dealing with her allegations in the letter," he said. "But we don't know that that's true."

The former federal prosecutor explained to Podhoretz how the investigative process works.

"The FBI can't investigate unless they're asked to reopen the background investigation," Vance said, "and there's been some indication that although the letter was forwarded to them, they no longer had a background investigation in progress, so the letter was placed with her file."