What To Make of Kavanaugh Accuser’s Accusations That Got Dredged Up During Marriage Counseling

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Posted: Sep 17, 2018 7:25 AM
What To Make of Kavanaugh Accuser’s Accusations That Got Dredged Up During Marriage Counseling

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. 

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. 

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.