Guy will have more on this today, but a bombshell was dropped on the Supreme Court nomination of Judge Brett Kavanaugh. The woman who accused Judge Kavanaugh of an attempted sexual assault some 30+ years ago has come forward. Kavanaugh was 17 at the time. Her name is Christine Blasey Ford, a professor at Palo Alto University and a research psychologist. Here’s what she says happened, as reportedby The Washington Post:
Ford said that on the night of the party, she left the family room to use the bathroom, which was at the top of a narrow stairway. She doesn’t remember whether Kavanaugh and [Mark] Judge were behind her or already upstairs, but she remembers being pushed into a bedroom and then onto a bed. Rock-and-roll music was playing with the volume turned up high, she said.
She alleges that Kavanaugh — who played football and basketball at Georgetown Prep — held her down with the weight of his body and fumbled with her clothes, seemingly hindered by his intoxication. Judge stood across the room, she said, and both boys were laughing “maniacally.” She said she yelled, hoping that someone downstairs would hear her over the music, and Kavanaugh clapped his hand over her mouth to silence her.
At one point, she said, Judge jumped on top of them, and she tried unsuccessfully to wriggle free. Then Judge jumped on them again, toppling them, and she broke away, she said.
She said she locked herself in the bathroom and listened until she heard the boys “going down the stairs, hitting the walls.” She said that after five or ten minutes, she unlocked the door and made her way through the living room and outside. She isn’t sure how she got home.
Yes, this is serious. And yes, the timing is incredibly suspect. Apparently, Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-CA) had a letter relating to this allegation, which she sat on for weeks. Yeah, she had it in her possession since the summer. Why? It’s because the veracity of the claim is impossible to confirm. Ford never spoke of this encounter until it was unearthed during marriage counseling in 2012. There are no other witnesses besides Kavanaugh, who denies this ever happened, and Ford. It’s he said, she said. Mr. Mark Judge has also denied these allegations. The Post obtained some of the notes from the sessions, the therapist does not name Kavanaugh, but Ford’s husband says his wife called him by his last name. The notes also said there were four boys not two, as alleged by Ford, which she says was an error on her therapist’s part. So, what to make of all of this?
As of now, it seems pretty thin to derail this nomination based on a 30+-year allegation, as serious as it is. There’s simply no way to corroborate…anything. Can anyone really remember exactly what happened? I doubt it. National Review’s David French has more:
Since Kavanaugh has denied the story, however, the question of whether the event is so egregious that it should disqualify him is moot. At the very least, if the attack happened, he should be disqualified for lying.
Yet unless all parties start telling the same story, there is no way to know for certain if this event occurred. We don’t need certainty, however, to make a decision on whether a man should sit on the Supreme Court. I have the same standard for Brett Kavanaugh as I did for Roy Moore, for Donald Trump, for Bill Clinton — or for any other politician who’s accused of misconduct. Is it more likely than not that the allegation is true?
First, one way to help test the veracity of old claims is to ask whether there is any contemporaneous corroboration. Did the accuser tell a friend or family member or anyone about the alleged assault when it occurred? With Clinton, Trump, Moore, and many other politicians and celebrities, there was ample contemporaneous corroboration. Here, there was not. According to the Washington Post, “Ford said she told no one of the incident in any detail until 2012, when she was in couples therapy with her husband.”
That’s almost three decades of silence — three decades when memories can grow cloudy and recollections can change.
But even the allegedly corroborating notes of the therapist raise a separate problem. They actually contradict her story on a key detail. According to the Post, “The notes say four boys were involved, a discrepancy that Ford says was an error on the therapist’s part. Ford said there were four boys at the party but only two in the room.” Nor do the notes mention Kavanaugh’s name, even though her husband says Ford named Kavanaugh in the sessions.
Those are important discrepancies, and if six years ago she told the therapist four men and says two men now, that suggests that her memory of the event may be suspect.
As a former trial lawyer, I can tell you that while neither notes nor memories are infallible, in a contest between contemporaneous notes and later verbal testimony about those notes, the content of the written notes usually prevails.
… there are no other allegations of sexual misconduct against Kavanaugh. If there’s one thing we’ve seen time and again, it’s that one allegation often triggers a cascade of additional claims. There seem to be precious few men who engage in serious sexual misconduct just once. If this was the kind of behavior that Kavanaugh engaged in, then look for more people to come forward. If no one does, however, we’re left with a sole claim, made by an opposing partisan (Ford is an outspoken progressive), that Kavanaugh strenuously denies, that lacks any contemporaneous corroboration, and that is contradicted in material respects by her therapist’s own notes.
But these conclusions are tentative and preliminary. The next three days are crucial. We’ll likely hear more from Ford. I expect we’ll hear more from Kavanaugh.
The last part is critical, as one credibly accused sexual abuser often has multiple victims. What is clear now is that this nomination is now on the brink. It may be a decades-old allegation. It may be totally false, but the unknown factor concerning its veracity will linger, and in the era of the anti-Trump opposition media, they will make sure to keep it in the news if it means hurting this White House. It’s all a messy affair. Ford really didn’t want to come forward, but it appears that our charged political atmosphere might have influenced the decision making process. That’s not good. Also, why did Dianne sit on this letter for so long? Maybe she knew the claim was a bit shaky given the timeline. Again, the resist crowd’s voices are deep, loud, and incessant. The fact is that both Kavanaugh and Ms. Ford will be dragged through the mud on this. The street fight for the Supreme Court will become as vicious and explicit as ever. I usually say grab some popcorn, but on this—down some Maalox. It’s not going to be pretty. Our own Guy Benson noted that this claim might not be able to be verified fully, and that Kavanaugh’s nomination can’t be derailed, unless more evidence is dredged up. In all, whatever the truth is will be lost. Whatever happens will never been seen as legitimate by either side.
I’ve read the Post story & am writing on it for @Townhall tomorrow. Overall: Direct allegations of serious misconduct from an on-the-record accuser are more credible than indirect characterizations of an anonymous source’s account...— Guy Benson (@guypbenson) September 16, 2018
Ford’s therapist’s notes from a session 30 yrs after the alleged incident — which Ford says represent the 1st time she discussed her claims in depth w/ anyone (& that also didn’t mention BK’s name, and contained what she Ford concedes is a mistaken detail — aren’t *nothing*...— Guy Benson (@guypbenson) September 16, 2018
But they’re also not even close to dispositive contemporaneous evidence. So we’re still looking at unsubstantiated (and probably *unsubstantiatable*) allegations from a lone accuser that have been strongly denied by both people she implicates...— Guy Benson (@guypbenson) September 16, 2018
Absent additional evidence, I don’t know how it would be remotely just to derail the nomination of someone who’s spent an adult lifetime building a personal & professional reputation based on this exceptionally thin standard...— Guy Benson (@guypbenson) September 16, 2018
Proving a negative is impossible, esp ~4 decades later & the timing of all of this is highly suspect. I’d add that even those who want to defeat Kavanaugh due to politics should be careful about embracing a precedent under which this approach is ‘rewarded’ as effective...— Guy Benson (@guypbenson) September 16, 2018
Last point: It appears the accuser is a liberal activist and Democratic donor. This does NOT “prove” anything about her veracity. It is simply one piece of context to be considered alongside the emerging timeline & its v questionable handling by Sen. Feinstein...— Guy Benson (@guypbenson) September 16, 2018
In other words, she may be telling the truth—or she could be making it up/misremembering key details. We don’t know. But IF you wanted to detonate an 11th-hr, unfalsifiable smear & strategically leak it for max impact, this is how you’d do it.— Guy Benson (@guypbenson) September 16, 2018
On the flip side, Rosa Brooks is a law professor at Georgetown, who is against the Kavanaugh nomination, but is very unnerved that we’re using one’s teenage years as a gauge on character. Brooks adds that bad behavior by minors is different than that of adults. Now, she still feels Ms. Ford should be granted respect and not have her motives questioned. I can tell you on the latter point, that’s not happening. She adds that Kavanaugh could very well be a creep, but is still not comfortable using a shoddy 30+year allegation about alleged bad teenage behaviors as the building block is the case against his nomination.
Tweet 1 of a bunch: I oppose Kavanaugh's nomination, think senators should vote no based on his judicial record, but am uncomfortable with asserting that his behavior as a teen tells us anything about his "character" now.— Rosa Brooks (@brooks_rosa) September 17, 2018
Tweet 2 of a bunch: Yes, even if his behavior as a teen included doing exactly what Ford says he did. This is because...— Rosa Brooks (@brooks_rosa) September 17, 2018
Tweet 3 of a bunch: ...I don't think teen behavior is predictive of adult behavior, and I am also skeptical of the very idea of "character" as we use the term in American politics. And....— Rosa Brooks (@brooks_rosa) September 17, 2018
Tweet 4 of a bunch: ... there is a ton of solid research on the general idiocy of teenagers, especially teenaged boys, and the neuroscience that explains their general idiocy....— Rosa Brooks (@brooks_rosa) September 17, 2018
Tweet 5 of a bunch: as a lawyer I also think there are sound reasons behind statutes of limitations. After 35 years it is nearly impossible to conduct a full or fair investigation.— Rosa Brooks (@brooks_rosa) September 17, 2018
Tweet 6 of a bunch: This does not mean I consider sexual assault "excusable" or "minor." It just means that I think the bad behavior of minors should be treated differently than the behavior of adults, and that adults should not be shadowed forever by misdeeds as children.— Rosa Brooks (@brooks_rosa) September 17, 2018
Tweet 7 of a bunch: Kavanaugh's accuser nonetheless deserves to be treated with dignity and consideration; belittling her or her motives should be considered unacceptable.— Rosa Brooks (@brooks_rosa) September 17, 2018
Tweet 8 of a bunch: If Kavanaugh responds to her accusations in a way that belittles her or other women who come forward with stories of sexual assault, THAT will definitely be relevant now.— Rosa Brooks (@brooks_rosa) September 17, 2018
Tweet 9 of a bunch: And to all who say "well yes but the GOP would draw and quarter any Dem nominee with similar accusations against him," you're right, but why would Dems want to do the same things the GOP does?— Rosa Brooks (@brooks_rosa) September 17, 2018
Tweet 10 of a bunch: and to those who say, "But the GOP would not treat allegations of assault by a black teen as forgivingly," I agree as well. But again, we shouldn't conform to the bad behavior of others.— Rosa Brooks (@brooks_rosa) September 17, 2018
Tweet 11 of a bunch: Again, this is not because I am "defending" Kavanaugh: I'd vote NO, and for all I know he is a complete jerk and a serial sexual assaulter to boot. All I'm saying is: I am uncomfortable having the current allegation be the basis for opposing, given the above.— Rosa Brooks (@brooks_rosa) September 17, 2018
Tweet 12 of a bunch (and the last): And now I am saying goodnight, Twitter. I'm going to resist the temptation to reply to the barrage of irritated tweets that are probably coming my way: please consider this thread my views. (For now!). Night, everyone.— Rosa Brooks (@brooks_rosa) September 17, 2018
To tell the truth…that’s the game this week. Are there some folks on the Hill interested in doing good or engage in character assassination. Color me shocked if it’s the latter (sarc.) Sen. Jeff Flake (R-AZ), a key vote on the Senate Judiciary Committee, has already called to delay the committee’s vote on the nomination originally slated for this Thursday. There’s also the Susan Collins-Lisa Murkowski factor, which we cannot really afford to lose in the vote count. So far, it seems Collins is holding steady. The two seemed content on voting for Kavanaugh (via NYT):
Ms. Collins said in an interview on Sunday night that she considered the allegations serious and that Ms. Ford needed to be personally interviewed to get a fuller account. But Ms. Collins, who could conceivably decide the outcome in the narrowly divided Senate, said Democrats had done a disservice to both Ms. Ford and Judge Kavanaugh with their handling of the accusations.
“What is puzzling to me is the Democrats, by not bringing this out earlier, after having had this information for more than six weeks, have managed to cast a cloud of doubt on both the professor and the judge,” she said. “If they believed Professor Ford, why didn’t they surface this information earlier so that he could be questioned about it? And if they didn’t believe her and chose to withhold the information, why did they decide at the 11th hour to release it? It is really not fair to either of them the way it is was handled.”
This is going to be a long week.
At the end of the day, unless there’s a second accuser, the case for blocking him is one person’s word about an alleged incident which she didn’t mention to anyone for 30 years, with denials from not one but two people who were supposedly present— Allahpundit (@allahpundit) September 17, 2018
Did Feinstein even make it on a single Sunday show this week to be interviewed about the letter? That seem odd to anyone else?— Stephen Miller (@redsteeze) September 17, 2018
What angers me is Feinstein could have given this to the FBI TWO MONTHS AGO.— Pradheep J. Shanker, M.D., M.S. (@Neoavatara) September 16, 2018
No matter which side of this you are one, you should be FURIOUS that she didn't have the courage to do this long before. https://t.co/Wp9wMnD0Rd
Feinstein says it was Ford’s call to come forward, but Ford says it really wasn’t. So we’ve got another victim outed b/c our politics are incredibly healthy right now https://t.co/o25scMVNRe— Seth Mandel (@SethAMandel) September 16, 2018
Legit or not, this allegation was sat on to maximize the chances that it would be too late to confirm a different justice before the midterms. Our political process is entirely unscrupulous at this point, and everyone's culpable and it's goddamn depressing.— neontaster ?????? (@neontaster) September 16, 2018
I followed evidence on Roy Moore & believed his accusers.— Guy Benson (@guypbenson) September 17, 2018
Now my reasoned, skeptical assessments of an accuser’s story are provoking indignant screams of misogyny.
Unless you join their stampede precisely how they want you to, you’re a monster.
Exhausting & alienating. ??
"A source familiar with the committee’s activities said that Feinstein’s staff initially conveyed to other Democratic members’ offices that the incident was too distant in the past to merit public discussion" https://t.co/wIdRMT4f0l— John McCormack (@McCormackJohn) September 16, 2018