Monday, September 17, 2018

Brett Kavanaugh's #MeToo Moment — Questions Raised As His Accuser Comes Forward


"Frat fun" or rape culture in action? Signs on a frat-connected house near Old Dominion University in Virginia (source)

by Gaius Publius

This is Brett Kavanaugh's #MeToo moment. An accusation of attempted rape (a crime) against Brett Kavanaugh has been lodged against him.

Initially the accusation came via a letter given in July — at separate times and under request of confidentiality — to the Washington Post, to House Rep. Anna Eshoo, and to Senate Judiciary Committee member Dianne Feinstein.

Senator Feinstein, as a member of the Judiciary Committee sitting in hearings on Kavanaugh, was the only person in position to act. Here's what she did (or failed to do):
  • For two months, failed to reveal the existence (not the contents, just the existence) of the letter to fellow Democrats
  • Then, when its existence was leaked to the public, refused to reveal its contents to fellow Democrats
  • Finally, after coming under fire for withholding the letter, sent the letter only to the FBI, who will not investigate further
End of matter, or so Ms. Feinstein thought.

The woman who wrote the accusatory letter has now come forward to tell her story in her own voice and for attribution. It's quite an explosive tale, and the bomb it contains threatens not just Kavanaugh and committee Republicans, but Democrats as well. Parallels to Democrats' handling of Anita Hill and her accusations against Clarence Thomas are obvious and striking.

The Story

First the accusation. Part of it is contained in a New Yorker piece by Ronan Farrow and Jane Mayer, which maintained the woman's anonymity (at her request). The full story comes from this piece in the Washington Post (my emphasis throughout):
Earlier this summer, Christine Blasey Ford wrote a confidential letter to a senior Democratic lawmaker alleging that Supreme Court nominee Brett M. Kavanaugh sexually assaulted her more than three decades ago, when they were high school students in suburban Maryland. Since Wednesday, she has watched as that bare-bones version of her story became public without her name or her consent, drawing a blanket denial from Kavanaugh and roiling a nomination that just days ago seemed all but certain to succeed.

Now, Ford has decided that if her story is going to be told, she wants to be the one to tell it.

Speaking publicly for the first time, Ford said that one summer in the early 1980s, Kavanaugh and a friend — both “stumbling drunk,” Ford alleges — corralled her into a bedroom during a gathering of teenagers at a house in Montgomery County.

While his friend watched, she said, Kavanaugh pinned her to a bed on her back and groped her over her clothes, grinding his body against hers and clumsily attempting to pull off her one-piece bathing suit and the clothing she wore over it. When she tried to scream, she said, he put his hand over her mouth.

“I thought he might inadvertently kill me,” said Ford, now a 51-year-old research psychologist in northern California. “He was trying to attack me and remove my clothing.”

Ford said she was able to escape when Kavanaugh’s friend and classmate at Georgetown Preparatory School, Mark Judge, jumped on top of them, sending all three tumbling. She said she ran from the room, briefly locked herself in a bathroom and then fled the house.
A timeline of events:
Christine Ford is a professor at Palo Alto University who teaches in a consortium with Stanford University, training graduate students in clinical psychology. Her work has been widely published in academic journals.

She contacted The Post through a tip line in early July, when it had become clear that Kavanaugh was on the shortlist of possible nominees to replace retiring justice Anthony M. Kennedy but before Trump announced his name publicly. A registered Democrat who has made small contributions to political organizations, she contacted her congresswoman, Democrat Anna G. Eshoo, around the same time. In late July, she sent a letter via Eshoo’s office to Sen. Dianne Feinstein of California, the ranking Democrat on the Judiciary Committee.

In the letter, which was read to The Post, Ford described the incident and said she expected her story to be kept confidential.
According to the Post, Blasey Ford took and passed a polygraph test in August: "The results, which Katz provided to The Post, concluded that Ford was being truthful when she [that] said a statement summarizing her allegations was accurate."

There's more in the Post account, which should be read in full.


This new information raises a number of questions.

About Kavanaugh, Mark Judge and Christine Blasey Ford:

1. Did Brett Kavanaugh commit the crime of which he's accused while attending an elite academy, Georgetown Preparatory School, in the Washington D.C area?

2. If he did, does that disqualify him for a seat on the Supreme Court?

3. Will any further investigation, by anyone, take place?

4. Both Kavanaugh and Judge have denied the incident happened at all — i.e, that this isn't a he-said, she-said story, but a complete fabrication. Will Kavanaugh and Judge stick to their denials if other corroboration emerges?

5. Mark Judge has written a book about his life as a teenage alcoholic (Wasted: Tales of a GenX Drunk). This plays into a narrative that "something may have happened but we don't know what" — not a  narrative of "she's flat out lying." In addition, The Post says this about Kavanaugh:
In his senior-class yearbook entry at Georgetown Prep, Kavanaugh made several references to drinking, claiming membership to the “Beach Week Ralph Club” and “Keg City Club.” He and Judge are pictured together at the beach in a photo in the yearbook.
And later in the article, notes that:
[In his book] Judge ... described his own blackout drinking and a culture of partying among students at his high school, renamed in the book “Loyola Prep.” Kavanaugh is not mentioned in the book, but a passage about partying at the beach one summer makes glancing reference to a “Bart O’Kavanaugh,” who “puked in someone’s car the other night” and “passed out on his way back from a party.”
In Ms. Ford's telling, both men were "stumbling drunk." Will the optics of heavy drinking undermine all the denials?

6. Is there something we don't know about Kavanaugh's current drinking?

7. Judge has since implied that this could have been an incident of "rough-housing": "I can recall a lot of rough-housing with guys. It was an all-boys school, we would rough-house with each other ... I don't remember any of that stuff going on with girls." Is his story starting to drift?

8. The accuser has taken and passed a lie detector test. Will Kavanaugh submit to a lie detector test? Will Mark Judge? How will the public respond if both refuse?

9. Will Christine Blasey Ford, the accuser, hold up under the pressure of a story this explosive, with the stakes this high?

About the politics:

1. Republicans called this a "late hit" and a "last ditch smear." (If you google "Kavanaugh late hit" you'll find the phrase everywhere on the right, suggesting coordination.) How else will they respond?

2. Will Republicans attack Ms. Blasey Ford's character as they did Anita Hill's? Through an operative (David Brock) they accused Anita Hill of being "a little bit nutty and a little bit slutty." How will they attack Blasey Ford?

3. Will Democrats abandon Kavanaugh's accuser as they did Anita Hill?
After the Thomas hearings concluded, it emerged that Senator Joe Biden, who was the Democratic chairman of the Judiciary Committee at the time, had failed to call three additional women to the witness stand who had been willing to offer testimony confirming Hill’s complaints about Thomas’s inappropriate behavior toward women. Last December, Biden, who may run for President in 2020, publicly apologized for failing Hill, saying, “I wish I had been able to do more.”
Edit Biden's quote to read "I wish I had decided to do more" and the statement fits the facts. Democrats made a calculation that put Clarence Thomas on the Supreme Court. Only their own cowardice, self-interest, or complicity prevented them from calling the corroborating witnesses they had available.

4. Will Democrats take maximum tactical advantage of this new information, or will they continue to go through the motions, treating this confirmation fight as hopeless while making strong speeches?

5. Will any Republican men stand up for Blasey Ford?

About Dianne Feinstein:

1. What were Dianne Feinstein's motives in keeping other committee Democrats in the dark about this letter?
Sources who worked for other members of the Judiciary Committee said that they respected the need to protect the woman’s privacy, but that they didn’t understand why Feinstein had resisted answering legitimate questions about the allegation. “We couldn’t understand what their rationale is for not briefing members on this. This is all very weird,” one of the congressional sources said. Another added, “She’s had the letter since late July. And we all just found out about it.”
Feinstein had the letter since July, yet confirmed its existence only in September, when the story leaked. She was clearly trying to control the way the rest of the committee handled the nomination: "Feinstein also acted out of a sense that Democrats would be better off focussing on legal, rather than personal, issues in their questioning of Kavanaugh."

Was she trying to help Kavanaugh deliberately or just inadvertently?

2. Will Dianne Feinstein, up for re-election in 2018, pay a price with voters, especially with women voters, for her apparent sabotage of Democratic efforts to block Kavanaugh's confirmation?

3. Will Dianne Feinstein pay a price with Senate women for her part in what looks like a #MeToo cover-up? Al Franken, let's not forget, was driven from the Senate by Kirstin Gillibrand and others based on a #MeToo accusation and prior to any investigation.

4. If not, why not?

About Susan Collins and Lisa Murkowski:

1. Will this revelation affect the Kavanaugh confirmation votes of senators Susan Collins and Lisa Murkowski?

2. Or will Joe Manchin, Heidi Heitkamp, Joe Donnelly and Doug Jones make it easy for them both by voting yes to confirm, allowing Collins and Murkowski to vote no "on principle"?

3. Will Maine voters give Susan Collins another term in the Senate anyway? After all, she's been silent on Kavanaugh since the nomination was announced and the threat to Roe v. Wade became apparent.

Finally, next steps and the future:

1. The Judiciary Committee is scheduled to vote on Kavanaugh on Thursday, September 20. Will Republicans accelerate the schedule in order to fast-track the confirmation?

2. If Democrats are ineffective in handling this story — if they look like they're just "going through the motions" — will it affect the anticipated blue wave of 2018? Will Democrats continue to be seen as heroes of the anti-Trump resistance, or will enough voters give up on them to reduce the wave to a large and interesting ripple?

3. Will Republicans pay a price in 2018 with Republican women if this story evolves badly for them?

4. At what point will the illegitimacy of the Supreme Court rend the fabric, the American social contract, beyond repair?

Much to consider. Much to watch.

And if this plays out as it looks like it might, much to respond to when the dust has settled and the bipartisan deed has been done.


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At 10:15 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

The short answer is that the "democrats" -especially DINO DiFi- have been working to look like they oppose the GOP without actually doing anything about it. Christine Blasey Ford will be abandoned to the GOP wolves. Manchin, Heitkamp, Donnelly and Jones will vote to confirm KKKavanaugh no matter what, and everyone of both wings of the corporatist Party will get a nice bonus if they play along as they are expected to.

Their gain is our pain, and we can kiss this nation goodbye.

At 10:52 AM, Blogger edmondo said...

I am no fan of Kavanaugh or the entire process but this is total bullshit. High school? Really?

Of course this is coming from the same Democrats who found Bill Clinton's actions (way, way past high school age, by the way) acceptable when they had a chance to get him out of the White House.

What's one more pervert in Washington, DC? The place is crawling with them.

At 11:15 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

You left out one: Both Kavanaugh and Judge deny, under a polygraph, that it happened and both pass.

At 11:49 AM, Blogger Will Twiner said...

Yes, high school. If you raped a girl in high school, you are a rapist.

At 11:59 AM, Blogger Will Twiner said...

And being a rapist is disqualifying for a Seat on the Supreme Court.

At 12:57 PM, Anonymous Hone said...

The focus on what Kavanaugh may have done way back is only one aspect of this story. If she is to be believed, and I for one believe her, then he is obviously now lying. To me that is just as bad, as he has already been shown to have lied under oath about other (important) things 4 times....THIS should definitely disqualify him. And his lying should get him impeached and off of the bench he currently sits on for life. But, that won't happen, right? Uh, doubtful...

Only petty criminals are held accountable for their crimes. The big ones get away all too often. I even wonder about whether Manafort will actually serve any decent amount of time. He should NOT totally get away with conspiring against the USA, money laundering ,etc. A few years at least???!!! But if he gets the big one TRUMP, that would be ok in my book. Trump should wind up in an orange jumpsuit. But uh, I'll bet Trump won't either.

At 1:28 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I love this quote (see below) from a commenter to Josh Marshall's Talking Points Memo. It basically lays out the play the Senate Democrats need to run on the Kavanaugh hearings. They now have a chance to stop a lifetime appointment of a radical right-wing reactionary to the Supreme Court. If they fail, we will all live to regret it. Schumer needs to hold the line on Manchin, Heitkamp and the others. We'll be watching. Per the last line in the quote below, once they have retired Kavanaugh, they can then work on retiring Feinstein.

"You never win by losing and you almost never lose by winning. Democrats should torpedo Kavanaugh if they can. Failure isn’t going to motivate Republican voters. If Kavanaugh goes down in flames, social conservatives will shrug their shoulders and tell themselves that the dreaded Republican establishment failed because it never really wanted that fifth vote. The confirmation drama, they will say, was all just failure theater, a replay of the comic opera effort to repeal Obamacare. Many if not most social conservatives will lose what little faith they have left in electoral politics and see little reason to go to the polls. Very few people are going to be fired up about preserving a Republican majority that consistently fails when it really counts.

Destroy the target you have in your sights. Worry about the next target when it’s in range."

At 3:32 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

coupla things:

there is no crime that DQs anyone from the supreme court. He could be a SERIAL rapist... no problem. Thomas is a serial abuser and he's been there for decades.

DiFi is safe. CA democrap voters are just as stupid as those everywhere else. They have kept Pelosi around far too long too.
DiFi has been a republican in everything but name, and a misogynist in every conceptual way, forever. Yet CA keeps electing her. This is SOP for her.

"At what point will the illegitimacy of the Supreme Court rend the fabric, the American social contract, beyond repair?"

it's been illegitimate since scalia was confirmed despite lying about recusing himself on upcoming matters. He should have been impeached the second he refused to recuse when he'd sworn he would. Thomas was confirmed despite the truth that Anita Hill told... and being a moron... and being married to a true Nazi partisan. There is an emoluments problem with him also.

When bush v. gore was decided, they became fundamentally illegitimate AND were daring americans to "do something about it". We didn't. Citizens United was the result of Americans' failure/refusal to repudiate the supreme court's 2000 coup.

The answer to GP's question is ... never. Americans fail/refuse to fix their broken system whenever it gets worse... which is every single day since 1980.

At 3:42 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Pointless musings?

The latest is that they both are willing to testify.

I predict another very hasty 'Anita Hilling' of this woman followed by a hasty passage by the committee followed by a hasty senate vote wherein your named democraps will still vote aye and only one of the named republican women will vote nay.

He'll be confirmed. We'll have 2 proven misogynists and a drunk on the court.

When we have 8 shit-for-brains and one of average intellect on the court... the electorate will be well reflected on our own court.

At 11:36 PM, Anonymous zeeman said...

I'll leave the last comment before this thread enters the archive. As I have said before, HE WILL BE CONFIRMED!! Lets move on.

At 6:08 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

HA! not the last one. but I agree totally. HA!

At 11:18 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Biden claimed in an interview with Michelle Martin of NPR last November that:

"there were two witnesses — one major witness, a very substantial, well-respected woman who would be able to give evidence that she was told contemporaneously by Anita Hill what was happening. And so at the last minute, she said she did not want to testify.

So I had a really bright guy running the committee, well-known guy named Ron [Klain] and he suggested: look, we better go to her hotel and have an affidavit where, if she says she's not going to testify, she has to sign and say she's not. We want you to testify.

Now people say I should have made her testify, but what happens if she testified and she didn't corroborate what was happening, if she remained silent? Then I knew that would make sure Clarence Thomas would be on the Court."

Biden also says that it was his experience with how Anita Hill was treated that led him to author the Violence Against Women Act, of which he also says "I had to fight through women's groups that didn't support it at first because they thought it was going to overcome the issues of choice and gender."

At 12:10 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Looks like Democrats had a 56-44 majority in the Senate when Thomas came up for confirmation. Yet some of them helped confirm him.

He was confirmed 52-48. Two Republicans voted against him, both of whom had announced their opposition before Anita Hill's allegations were aired: Bob Packwood (OR) and Jim Jeffords (VT). (Jeffords switched to Independent and caucused with the Democrats ten years later, in opposition to the George W. Bush administration's policies.)

Forty-eight Democrats opposed Thomas, but 11 Democrats voted with all the other (41) Republicans to confirm him. These were mostly Southern Democrats, along with an Oklahoman and a Senator from Illinois.

The one Northern Democrat who voted to confirm, Alan Dixon of Illinois, said the same as the one female Senator, Nancy Kassebaum (KS): given that it was a he-said/she-said, with just two witnesses, both of them credible, and no definite proof on either side, the accused should be presumed innocent and not deprived of confirmation. (Kassebaum said years later that she regretted her vote to confirm.)

Given that we are talking about a life-time appointment to one of the most powerful bodies in the world, the onus really should be on those seeking to confirm. If there is *any* doubt about a nominee's suitability, he or she should *not* be confirmed.

At 12:23 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

using the rationalization of the 'craps almost 30 years ago (but a full decade after the DLC led them to sell their soul to big money), OJ would have been confirmed had he been nom'd.

Biden has always been a political coward. He's also been a reliably corrupt 'crap since the '80s.

The numbers show that the more things change, the more they stay the same.

The '91 'crap betrayal should have been plenty to make women abandon them. But women are just as fucking stupid as men, it would seem.

A smart electorate would never tolerate that level of betrayal.

but that ain't us.

At 4:15 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

11:18, Biden was lying. He had 3 corroborating witnesses ready to go. One did waffle, APPARENTLY, after seeing what orrin hatch et al did to Ms. Hill. But Hill had 2 others waiting to testify.

Biden refused to call them.

The democrat pussies in '91 were going to make sure he got confirmed just because they would look stupid to their black electorate if they did not. Remember who the biggest supporters of that pos were back then? Blacks.

Remember who celebrated when OJ was "not guilty"? Blacks.

Remember who refused to support Bernie even considering Clinton's damning quotes about black youth? Blacks.

If a black Adolph Hitler emerged, he'd get 90% of the black vote by default.

At 6:35 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

@Anonymous-4:15, what's your evidence for claiming that blacks were "the biggest supporters of that pos" back then? Assuming you are referring to Clarence Thomas, a CBS News/NY Times poll found that "there was little difference in response between men and women, or between blacks and whites" in the public's 2-to-1 support for Thomas' nomination, after three days of televised hearings of Anita Hill's allegations and Thomas' responses.


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