The testimony of those who know Brett Kavanaugh – from both left and right politically – is that he is a man of impeccable character. But, with a vote on his U.S. Supreme Court nomination scheduled for Thursday, the Senate Judiciary Committee is moving toward a delay to hear from psychology professor Christine Blasey Ford, whose claim that Kavanaugh attempted to rape her at a party when both were in high school arose only late last week.
Ranking committee member Sen. Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif., announced Thursday she had “information” of a claim against Kavanaugh, and over the weekend, Ford identified herself through a Washington Post story.
Ford is now willing to testify before the committee, and at least three Republican senators have indicated they want to hear from her under oath.
President Trump, at the White House Monday, backed Kavanaugh, calling him “one of the finest people anybody has known,” and said the Democrats should have brought up the allegation much sooner, noting Feinstein was alerted in July.
But he said Republicans “want to go through a full process and hear everybody out.”
“If it takes a little delay, it’ll take a little delay,” Trump said. “I’m sure it will work out very well.”
Kavanaugh said in a statement Monday, once again denying the allegation, that he is willing to fully cooperate with the committee.
Mark Judge, who Ford alleges witnessed the incident, has backed Kavanaugh, insisting it didn’t happen.
Kavanaugh called the allegation “completely false.”
“I have never done anything like what the accuser describes — to her or to anyone,” he said Monday. “Because this never happened, I had no idea who was making this accusation until she identified herself yesterday. I am willing to talk to the Senate Judiciary Committee in any way the committee deems appropriate to refute this false allegation, from 36 years ago, and defend my integrity.”
Sen. Orrin Hatch, R-Utah, said Monday that Kavanaugh believes he was not even at the party where Ford claims the incident took place.
Meanwhile, Ford’s lawyer, Debra Katz, said Monday morning her client isn’t declaring that the allegations should disqualify Kavanaugh from serving as a justice on the Supreme Court.
“She has not taken a position that he should not be confirmed,” the attorney said on CBS News.
McConnell: Democrats ‘egregiously mishandled’ claims
The office of the chairman of the committee, Sen. Charles Grassley, R-Iowa., issued a statement saying it’s “disturbing that these uncorroborated allegations from more than 35 years ago, during high school, would surface on the eve of a committee vote after Democrats sat on them since July.”
“If Ranking Member Feinstein and other Committee Democrats took this claim seriously, they should have brought it to the full Committee’s attention much earlier,” the statement said.
“Instead, they said nothing during two joint phone calls with the nominee in August, four days of lengthy public hearings, a closed session for all committee members with the nominee where sensitive topics can be discussed and in more than 1,300 written questions.”
Republican Sens. Jeff Flake of Arizona and Bob Corker of Tennessee, neither of whom is running for reelection, are urging the confirmation vote be delayed until the committee can hear from Ford. Sens. Lisa Murkowski, R-Alaska, and Susan Collins, R-Maine, key Republican swing votes on Kavanaugh’s nomination, indicated they also would be open to delaying the vote.
The Senate majority leader, Sen. Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., said Monday on the Senate floor that Democrats have “egregiously mishandled ” the accusation, failing to run it through the proper bipartisan channels.
He cited Sen. Collins reasoning Sunday night that if Democrats believed the judge’s accuser, they should have surfaced the information sooner so he could be questioned about it. And if they didn’t believe Ford and chose to withhold the information, “Why did they decide at the 11th hour to release it?”
“It’s really not fair to either of them, the way it was handled,” McConnell said.
He said Grassley plans to conduct “bipartisan interviews” of both Kavanaugh and Ford.
Responding to criticism, including from her Democratic colleagues, Feinstein has said she didn’t bring up the accusation sooner because Ford had requested confidentiality in a letter disclosing her claims.
Washington Post reports
The Washington Post identified Ford on Sunday and reported details of her allegations. The professor at Palo Alto University did not specify a date or place, however, saying it was a summer in the early 1980s. Ford said Kavanaugh and Judge, both “stumbling drunk,” corralled her into a bedroom during a gathering of teens who were drinking beer at a house in Montgomery County, Maryland.
She claimed Judge watched while Kavanaugh, as the Post reported, “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. “He was trying to attack me and remove my clothing.”
Ford said she was able to escape when Judge, a classmate of Kavanaugh at Georgetown Preparatory School, 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.
She told no one of the incident in any detail until 2012, she said, when she was in couples therapy with her husband. She alerted the Post through an anonymous tip line in early July after Kavanaugh’s name was on the short list for the Supreme Court. Then she contacted her member of Congress, Rep. Anna Eschoo, D-Calif., whose office sent a letter in confidence to Feinstein.
Damning student reviews of Ford as a professor from the popular website Rate My Professors have circulated on the web since she identified herself over the weekend, including one from a person who wrote, “I am honestly scared of her.”
A screen grab of one of her reviews, which have now been scrubbed, shows a reviewer calling her “the worst educator I have ever experienced.”
“Avoid taking her class and avoid any interaction with this person. I feel like she has something wrong with her and I am surprised no one has caught this.”
Another said she is “unprofessional, lacks appropriate filters, and I am honestly scared of her.”
“Absolutely the worst professor I have ever had.”
A woman named Rebecca Diserio who said both of her sons took a class from Ford, described the professor as “crazy,” saying she “harped” and “attacked” kids who argued for conservative values. Both sons withdrew after a couple of weeks, she said, commenting “her bias was way worse than most SJW (social justice warrior) professors.
Breitbart News reported Ford has taken part in public events protesting President Trump, spotlighting a San Jose Mercury News article that quoted Ford regarding her involvement in a “science march” in California last year where she donned a version of the “pussy hats” worn at the January 2017 Women’s March.
Ford has her name on a research study titled “Anxiety and Depression in Sexual Minority Young Adults: Identifying Concealment as a Correlate of Increased Symptomatology.”
Mediaite reported Ford’s parents were defendants in a property foreclosure case that was presided over by Brett Kavanaugh’s mother,Judge Martha G. Kavanaugh. But CNN reported Monday the case was dismissed before the judge had to rule on it, and the property is still in the family’s name.
Assessing the claims
David French, a former trial lawyer, writes in his National Review column that the nearly three decades of silence from the accuser regarding the alleged incident, along with her inability to name a date or specific place, casts doubt on the accusation.
In addition, the contradiction in detail between her therapist’s notes of her account and her current story raises suspicion.
According to the Washington Post, the notes say four boys were involved. Ford said the discrepancy was an error on the therapist’s part. She is claiming there were four boys at the party but only two in the room.
French points out the notes don’t 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,” French wrote.
“If there were only four boys there, who were the other two? Let’s hear from them.
Finally, French argued, there are no other allegations of sexual misconduct against Kavanaugh as there have been in accusations against other prominent figures such as Bill Clinton and Roy Moore.
On his radio show Monday, Rush Limbaugh recalled the personal accusations against Supreme Court nominees Clarence Thomas and Robert Bork during confirmation hearings, asserting the left once again is targeting “another decent human being who happens to be Republican and conservative for utter destruction.”
“Ruin his career, ruin his reputation, ruin his life and all of those who speak up and try to defend him. How do decent people deal with this?”
Limbaugh acknowledged that nothing of what he said means that Ford is not telling the truth.
“This is the thing. Nobody knows. That’s what’s so dastardly about this. Nobody knows,” he said.