Many Republican senators on the Judiciary Committee, as well as Republican spokespeople and commentators have said that there is no point in having a hearing on Thursday where Dr. Christine Blasey Ford will testify on her allegations of being sexually attacked by Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh. Their reason, they explain, is because it will just be a case of "He said / She said" and no one will know any more than they do know.
They are wrong. We may not know more. Or may. But it is not "He said / She said" and we will most definitely know more.
The questions that Dr. Ford will be asked by Republicans most-likely will be concerned of her memory of the event and her drinking at the time and who, if anyone she told. The "She said" part. Democrats on the committee will likely be addressing many different issues related to the story, but not remotely limited to the night in question. Many will probably be about who Brett Kavanaugh was at the time, and in the years following -- and importantly who he is today. They'll want to know how his friend Ed Whelan knew about Dr. Ford and began to track her online and start to spread knowingly-false rumors about some other mythical doppleganger of Kavanaugh who Christine Ford also knew at the time -- despite her name not having been released yet to the public.
They'll also want to know about the writings of his friend Mark Judge -- who Dr. Ford says was in the room at the time -- who discusses his poorly code-named friend "Bart O'Kavanaugh" and their mutual drinking rampages. They'll also want to know about other parties he went to during those years and the ones that followed at Yale.
And they'll now want to know about the new article in The New Yorker by Ronan Farrow and Jane Mayer (which you can read here) that has a new allegation by Deborah Ramirez of a sexual assault at a drinking party at Yale. This story -- with names and attributions -- is a "He said / She said" tale, but some of the quotes, whether the specific incident is accurate, are damning. These include statements on the record from Kavanaugh's college roommate, which the articles notes, "He said that he never witnessed Kavanaugh engage in any sexual misconduct, but did recall him being 'frequently, incoherently drunk.' He described Ramirez as a vulnerable outsider. 'Is it believable that she was alone with a wolfy group of guys who thought it was funny to sexually torment a girl like Debbie? Yeah, definitely. Is it believable that Kavanaugh was one of them? Yes.'” And the article has an on-the-record statement from Elizabeth Rasor, who was Mark Judge's former girlfriend of three years at the time --.
"Rasor stressed that 'under normal circumstances, I wouldn’t reveal information that was told in confidence,' but, she said, 'I can’t stand by and watch him lie.' In an interview with The New Yorker, she said, 'Mark told me a very different story.' Rasor recalled that Judge had told her ashamedly of an incident that involved him and other boys taking turns having sex with a drunk woman. Rasor said that Judge seemed to regard it as fully consensual. She said that Judge did not name others involved in the incident, and she has no knowledge that Kavanaugh participated. But Rasor was disturbed by the story and noted that it undercut Judge’s protestations about the sexual innocence of Georgetown Prep."
And the article makes clear that Republican aides on the Judiciary Committee knew about the Ramirez allegations a week ago, as Republicans senator tried to rush the confirmation through as fast as possible.
That's the supposed "He said" part.
It's not "He said." It's a hearing to try and get to the bottom of all the reports of Brett Kavanaugh's wild drinking, sexual societies and insistence today, under oath, of his choir boy life, complete with being a swell coach of his daughter's basketball team, always an important credential when confirming a Supreme Court justice.
There are leaks from the White House that while doing a Judiciary Hearing prep session to get ready for Thursday, Kavanaugh was asked mock questions about his drinking and sex life that made him so uncomfortable that he was struggling and refused to answer them. That won't work so well with Democratic senators.
(Obligatory quip: It seems that Judiciary Hearing prep is far more difficult to slide through than Georgetown Prep.)
I don't know what the full reality of all this is, of course. There are a lot of damning hints, but they mean nothing, other than as damning hints. But this is the important part (perhaps even more so than the above, which is say A LOT) -- two damning hints have stood out. To be clear, they certainly don't mean that Brett Kavanaugh did anything wrong, but they are impossible not to pay attention to.
The first was that news reported by the Yale student newspaper of Kavanaugh participating in a secret society while at college there, known as (sorry, this was its nickname) "The Tit and Clit Society." As well as being in the DKE fraternity known for its misogynistic parties and members chanting, "No means yes, yes means anal." Again, this isn't even close to proof of -- well, I was going to say "reprehensible behavior," except that it is, so let's go farther and more to the point -- criminal behavior. And it's about who Brett Kavanaugh is, not merely his version of what he says happened that one night. And equally to the point, it's something Kavanaugh will no doubt be asked about and have to address at the Senate Judiciary hearing. It's probably among the questions in his Judiciary Hearing prep he felt uncomfortable about and didn't want to answer.
The second matter is worse.
It began over the weekend when Stormy Daniels' lawyer Michael Avenatti sent out a tweet that suggested he may have some information about other matters, and then posted a more specific follow-up. And then announced that he his now representing an un-named client with an accusation about Brett Kavanaugh. (This would be a third woman, since he said it is not Deborah Ramirez.) Again, none of that means anything by itself in the slightest. It could be just a tactic to force an issue, but have nothing behind it. However, his track record of "coy hints" coming to fruition is quite good. Which brings up a tweet he sent out Sunday night. It included the attachment of an email exchange he had with a fellow named Mike Davis -- who is the Chief Counsel for Nominations for U.S. Senate Committee on the Judiciary. Again, my disclaimer: this exchange the two men had isn't proof of ANYTHING. But whatever one thinks of Michael Avenatti, he is not a stupid man and he knows the law. And for a lawyer to not only send what he did to the Chief Counsel of the Senate Judiciary Committee, but actually post it publicly, he has to know that if he can't back it up, he's not only in deep, incredibly serious trouble, but his legal career will take a massive hit.
Squeamish souls (which includes me) may want to avert your eyes. Really. I only was able to skim it, and had to do that several times before getting the full details. (Davis's email to Avenatti is at the bottom in gray, and Aventatti's follow-up reply is above it.)
I'm sorry that the words are so small. They were small in the original. (You can temporarily increase the font size displayed on your monitor. In Windows, the command is CTRL+. To shrink the font size back, it's CTRL-)
(To those who can't read this above, I'll just quote the opening from Michael Avenatti. "Dear Mr. Davis: Thank you for your email. We are aware of significant multiple house parties in the Washington, D.C. area during the early 1980s during which Brett Kavanaugh, Mark Judge and others would participate in the targeting of women with alcohol/drugs to allow a ‘train’ of men to subsequently gang rape them. There are multiple witnesses that will corroborate these facts and each of them must be called to testify publicly.” He then lists a series of graphic, troubling, profoundly uncomfortable questions to ask.)
I continue my Disclaimer Fest. None of this is evidence of ANYTHING. It might all be untrue. Kavanaugh's discomfort at answering questions in his prep session might be about something else entirely. But the point is --
This is not a "he said-she said" situation. There are a lot of questions that Brett Kavanaugh is going to have to answer from Democratic senators on the Judiciary Committee. He can say he won't answer. He can say he doesn't remember. He can say it's all untrue. But the hearing will not simply be a case of Dr. Christine Blasey Ford making her accusations and being asked questions to back them up, and then Brett Kavanaugh "emphatically denying" her charges and being asked questions to support that, hearing over, thanks for coming, goodbye -- and then the committee will have to decide whose story to believe No, there are going to be A LOT of questions about who these two people are and who they were, to establish a foundation on deciding who and what to believe.
That's the point.
And importantly, it's also not about who Brett Kavanaugh was when he was a 17-year-old minor, 36 years ago. Or even an 18-year-old adult at college. It is about who Brett Kavanaugh is TODAY, how he is answering questions now, when actually under oath. Hoping for a lifetime appointment to the Supreme Court.
I don't know what the truth is. I do know -- as I've mentioned -- that I know someone who is very longtime friends with Christine Blasey Ford and is a professional and believes her. That isn't proof. Nor does it relate to all the other stories. But this is no longer, "Well, there's just this one accuser. And if it was true there would be others."
There are others.
And as much as Brett Kavanaugh may want to believe that "What happens at Georgetown Prep stays at Georgetown Prep" -- it doesn't.
And as always: this is not about Trump or Brett Kavanaugh. It is about the elected officials of the Republican Party who know all this and are trying to ram the lifetime appointment to the Supreme Court through.
Robert J. Elisberg is a political commentator, screenwriter, novelist, tech writer and also some other things that I just tend to keep forgetting.
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