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Can Senator Feinstein Block The Appointment of Rachel Mitchell?

As you know by now, Maricopa County (Arizona) sex crimes unit chief Rachel Mitchell has been deemed by Chuck Grassley and the Senate Judiciary Republicans as their front person to examine Dr. Christine Blasey Ford. From NBC News:

The woman chosen by Senate Judiciary Committee Republicans to question Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh’s accuser will be in an unusual position when she goes face-to-face with Christine Blasey Ford on Thursday.

Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Chuck Grassley announced Tuesday that he hired Rachel Mitchell, an outside attorney to question Kavanaugh and Ford, on behalf of the 11 male Republicans on the committee — despite Ford’s wishes to be questioned by the senators themselves about her accusation that Kavanaugh sexually assaulted her when the two were teenagers.

So, the eleven old white men of the SJC want a female stand in to make their evisceration and shining on of putative kidnapping, sexual assault and attempted rape victim Dr. Ford. Because the optics the GOP men, and men are the only sex that has ever served for Republicans on SJC, looked too ugly for even them.

But is this unprecedented move, clearly designed with public optics and maximal humiliation of Dr. Ford even appropriate? Maybe not!

Now, I am not a Senate Rules expert, but a comment made me go do a little digging. Here is the text of the the most recent version of the United States Senate Standing Rules, Orders, Laws, And Resolutions. Here, specifically, is the section, contained in Chapter 43 thereof, in §4301(i)(3) relating to committee retention of consultants:

(3) With respect to the standing committees of the Senate, any such consultant or organization shall be selected by the chairman and ranking minority member of the committee, acting jointly. With respect to the standing committees of the House of Representatives, the standing com- mittee concerned shall select any such consultant or organization. The committee shall submit to the Committee on Rules and Administration in the case of standing committees of the Senate, and the Committee on House Oversight in the case of standing committees of the House of Representatives, information bearing on the qualifications of each consultant whose services are procured pursuant to this subsection, including organizations, and such information shall be retained by that committee and shall be made available for public inspection upon request. (Emphasis added)

So, Senator Feinstein, is this indeed the case? If so, why would you assent to appointment of a prosecutorial thug like Rachel Mitchell to examine the putative victim here, Dr. Ford?

Rachel Mitchell is currently head of the Sex Crimes Unit in the Maricopa County Attorney’s Office (MCAO). She has served under three heads of the MCAO, but she was elevated to her current position because she was an extremist who fit the desired bill by the notorious former MCAO head, Andrew Thomas. As you may recall, Andy Thomas not only had to leave the MCAO in disgrace, but subsequently was disbarred for his zealotry. And that kind of craven zealot is exactly who Rachel Mitchell identified with and was promoted by back in January of 2005. And is Mitchell always hard on sex criminals? No, in fact her past also includes sweetheart deals to abusive clergy members in politically charged cases.

Rachel Mitchell is one of the worst choices imaginable for the current task. It is a heinous move by Chuck Grassley and a direct and complete screw you to Dr. Ford and sexual abuse and rape victims across the United States and world.

And the “screw you” to victims is especially salient with the existence of additional putative victims of Brett Kavanaugh’s drunken debauchery. Not only is there Debbie Ramirez, who did not seek to come forward, but was located because friends and classmates of hers and Kavanaugh, while Kavanaugh was at Yale, started recalling her victimization and talking about it. Jane Mayer has more on that, not to mention her and Ronan Farrow’s original reporting on Ramirez.

And, just as of an hour or two ago, yet another troubling story of Brett Kavanaugh’s misogyny and conduct has been made public by her lawyer Michael Avenatti. Julie Swetnick has issued a sworn affidavit that is chilling. Swetnick is a A 1980 graduate of Gaithersburg High School in Gaithersburg, Maryland, and has has held multiple security clearances for work done at the Treasury Department, U.S. Mint, IRS, State Department and Justice Department. In short, she is a more than credible person who has put her statement under oath and penalty of perjury.

Here is her affidavit, and it is chilling. It describes what now seems obvious, Brett Kavanaugh and his friend Mark Judge were part of a group of a private boys school wilding gang that drank to excess regularly mistreated women. Judge and Kavanaugh were “joined at the hip” according to Swetnick. She further states:

There is more, much more, including descriptions of girls, including Ms. Swetnick herself, being knocked out with spiked punch and gang raped.

And that is where we find ourselves today. It appears that Senator Feinstein can put the kibosh on the craven hiring of a zealot prosecutorial thug like Rachel Mitchell and, further, can with the help of any and all Republican Senators of conscience, slow down this train wreck and investigate the claims and give a real hearing. That means someone among Jeff Flake, Lisa Murlowski, Susan Collins, or another, needs to step up and do the right thing. Will they? Will Senator Feinstein?

Within the last minute, Senator Feinstein has issued the following statement:

Washington—Following the release of a sworn affidavit from Julie Swetnick detailing new allegations of sexual assault by Brett Kavanaugh, all 10 Democratic members of the Senate Judiciary Committee today urged President Trump to immediately withdraw the nomination or order an FBI investigation into all allegations.

The senators wrote: “We are writing to request that you immediately withdraw the nomination of Brett Kavanaugh to be an Associate Justice on the Supreme Court or direct the FBI to re-open its background investigation and thoroughly examine the multiple allegations of sexual assault.

“Judge Kavanaugh is being considered for a promotion. He is asking for a lifetime appointment to the nation’s highest court where he will have the opportunity to rule on matters that will impact Americans for decades. The standard of character and fitness for a position on the nation’s highest court must be higher than this. Judge Kavanaugh has staunchly declared his respect for women and issued blanket denials of any possible misconduct, but those declarations are in serious doubt.”

That is a nice statement, but there appears to be so much more that Senator Feinstein can do Jeff Flake just took to the Senate Floor and, despite some words of empathy, wholeheartedly accepted that tomorrow’s sham hearing in SJC is all that there will ever be. While Flake appeared close to tears, he, as usual, said and intends to do nothing admirable and/or heroic.

It is a sad show we are watching. The hallowed halls of the Supreme Court deserve better, and so too do the American people.

Brett Kavanaugh: “It Depends on What the Meaning of the Phrase ‘Sexual Assault’ Is”

When I was a freshman at Amherst, an older guy denied he had sexually assaulted me because he hadn’t ejaculated. He went on to become a prosecutor, though not one promoted to the Supreme Court.

I was reminded of that detail this morning on Democracy Now. As Amy Goodman and I noted there were two striking aspects of Brett Kavanaugh’s interview with Fox News last night. Many people have noted the way Kavanaugh interrupted his wife, Ashley, when Martha MacCallum asked her whether the FBI should investigate.

I was struck more by how Kavanaugh, who believed Bill Clinton should be impeached because he denied having sex because he had not had vaginal intercourse, denied he had sexually assaulted anyone.

KAVANAUGH: We’re talking about an allegation of sexual assault. I’ve never sexually assaulted anyone. I did not have sexual intercourse or anything close to sexual intercourse in high school or for many years there after. And the girls from the schools I went to and I were friends —

MACCALLUM: So you’re saying that through all these years that are in question, you were a virgin?

KAVANAUGH: That’s correct.

MACCALLUM: Never had sexual intercourse with anyone in high school –

KAVANAUGH: Correct.

MACCALLUM: – and through what years in college since we’re probing into your personally life here?

KAVANAUGH: Many years after. I’ll leave it at that. [my emphasis]

That is, the man who helped impeach Bill Clinton for a blowjob says he couldn’t have sexually assaulted any of the now-four women who allege he did because he remained a virgin through that entire period.

And having defined vaginal intercourse to be necessary in any sexual assault, Kavanaugh kept repeating the term, sexual assault sexual assault sexual assault sexual assault sexual assault sexual assault sexual assault sexual assault, eight times in the interview.

KAVANAUGH: No. I had never sexually assaulted anyone, not in high school, not ever. I’ve always treated women with dignity and respect.

[snip]

KAVANAUGH: Correct. I – I never had any sexual or physical activity with Dr, Ford. I’ve never sexually assaulted anyone in high school or otherwise—

MACCALLUM: So, where do you think this is coming from? Why would she make this up?

KAVANAUGH: What I know is the truth. And the truth is, I’ve never sexually assaulted anyone in high school or otherwise. I am not questioning and have not questioned that perhaps Dr. Ford at some point in her life was sexually assaulted by someone in some place. But what I know is I’ve never sexually assaulted anyone in high school or at any time in my life —

[snip]

KAVANAUGH: I have never sexually assaulted anyone. I was not at the party described. [my emphasis]

Either Brett Kavanaugh is, after all these years, admitting he shouldn’t have impeached Bill Clinton.

Or he’s realizing how convenient word games can be when faced with your own past actions.

Not All Influencers Are Celebrities on YouTube

[NB: Note the byline. ~Rayne]

There’s something hinky going on with news curation in Twitter. The story at the top of the Moments/Trends yesterday in the mobile app was this one:

We now know the GOP anticipated additional accusers when the story above was published. This morning the story at the top of Twitter’s mobile U.S. news feed is this one:

Which seems really odd that both of these stories push the White House/GOP angle promoting the troubled nomination of Brett Kavanaugh by attacking accuser Christine Blasey Ford’s credibility.*

Meanwhile, the New Yorker story by Jane Mayer and Ronan Farrow about a second victim alleging an assault by Kavanaugh published last evening set Twitter timelines ablaze immediately and overnight. Yet that story isn’t the one at the top of Twitter’s US News this morning.

Is this an example of poor or biased curation by Twitter? Or is this the effect of a public relations campaign (by a firm like CRC for which Ed Whelan has worked) paying to promote a news article without any indication to the public that this elevation has happened?

Would such a PR-elevated piece written by a news outlet ever fall under the scrutiny of the Federal Trade Commission as YouTube influencers’ embedded promotions have recently? Or would it slip by without the public’s awareness because it’s First Amendment-protected content?

The Federal Communications Commission won’t want to touch this subject because its chair Ajit Pai won’t want to open up a can of worms about the internet and its content as a regulated commodity like broadcast radio and television.

The Federal Election Commission hasn’t looked at news-as-campaign-ads when such content is produced in the U.S. related to an unelected/appointed official position.

Google News is a little better this morning:

Note the position of the New Yorker piece in the feed. But it’s not clear how any of the news related to Kavanaugh surfaces to the top of Google’s news feed due to a lack of transparency let alone a particular story. The public doesn’t know if there have been any attempts to manipulate the elevation/submersion of a news story favorable/unfavorable to any subject including unelected/appointed officials.

As a majority of Americans increasingly obtain their news online instead of by broadcast or print media, we’re going to need more clarity about social media’s role as a publishing platform and whether social media giants are still being used to manipulate public opinion.

__________

* First image is the expanded version as I didn’t realize at time of screenshot there would be a relationship between top of Twitter news feed on September 23 and this morning’s top of news feed. All images in this story are used under Fair Use for purposes of media criticism

Brett Kavanaugh Just Provided Compelling Evidence He Received Sexually Explicit Emails from Alex Kozinski

In his latest attempt to respond to the allegation that he attempted to rape Christine Blasey Ford, Brett Kavanaugh has let it be known he has calendars from 1982 that (he claims) exonerate him, as if teenagers create permanent records of the incidences where they drink illegally and attempt to rape their acquaintances.

But his claim to have records so readily at hand should focus new scrutiny at one of his answers — or rather, one of many refusals to answer — to a question from Patrick Leahy.

59. At your hearing last week, you and Senator Hirono had the following exchange:

SEN. HIRONO: Have you otherwise ever received sexually suggestive or explicit e-mails from Judge [Alex] Kozinski, even if you don’t remember whether you were on this “Gag List” or not?

KAVANAUGH: So Senator, let me start with no woman should be subjected to sexual harassment in the workplace, and … [sic] 7

You avoided answering the question. Please go through your files and emails, and definitively state whether you ever received sexually suggestive or explicit emails from Judge Kozinski, whether as part of his “Easy Rider Gag List” or otherwise.

RESPONSE: I do not remember receiving inappropriate emails of a sexual nature from Judge Kozinski. [bold original]

When it suits his interests, Kavanaugh has now shown, he has a heroic ability to find documentary evidence.

But here, for a period that lasted into much more recent time, Kavanugh insolently ignored a second direct request about whether he had documentary evidence that he knew of Kozinski’s harassment.

Which is pretty compelling evidence that such evidence does or once did exist.

Brett Kavanaugh’s Character Witnesses: Ken Starr, Bill Shine, and Donald Trump

Over the last week, some pretty curious character witnesses have come out to insist that Brett Kavanaugh is a nice man who would never sexually assault someone else.

First, there’s Ken Starr, who judged that Christine Blasey Ford had had her opportunity to come forward and had not done so, and so “the matter has adjourned.”

As someone who’s interested in process and fairness, obviously any allegation of this nature is an unfortunate serious allegation, but to be honest, I was outraged about the timing, as well as the process, that the letter, about something long ago, was in the hands of — you covered it very well — of the Democrats in July, and yet there is nothing done about this. I just think it’s too late for there to be any serious consideration at this stage. The matter has adjourned. You had your opportunity to come forward and you failed to do that year after year after year.

Starr was forced to resign as president of Baylor University in 2016 for his role in covering up sexual assault committed by members of the football team. The report that led to his firing specifically talked about a culture of victim-blaming on behalf of administrators.

In addition, the investigations were conducted in the context of a broader culture and belief by many administrators that sexual violence “doesn’t happen here.” Administrators engaged in conduct that could be perceived as victim-blaming, focusing on the complainant’s choices and actions, rather than robustly investigating the allegations, including the actions of the respondent.

Then, yesterday, Bill Shine said that the White House stands by Kavanaugh 100%.

“We stand behind Judge Kavanaugh 100 percent,” Bill Shine, deputy WH chief of staff for communications, told us a few minutes ago in the Rose Garden. He did not say whether Kavanaugh should testify alone on Monday.

Shine was forced to resign from Fox News in 2017 after he was accused of attacking the victims of Roger Ailes’ sexual harassment.

In a case settled in December (the dollar figure is under wraps), Shine was accused of retaliating against a woman who declined to have a sexual relationship with Ailes. In another lawsuit, a woman who complained to Shine about Ailes’ behavior said he told her that he was “a very powerful man” and that she “needed to let this one go.” A third woman, who said she was psychologically tortured by Ailes for 20 years, was, at one point sent to live in a hotel for six weeks where senior leaders at Fox could “monitor” her. She claims that Shine reviewed all of her emails, which he denies.

Finally, this morning, Donald Trump joined in, both defending Kavanaugh’s honesty and (echoing Starr’s line) suggesting that because Ford didn’t file a police report, the attack must not have happened.

This defense of an alleged abuser mirrors the ones Trump made for Rob Porter, in which he complained that mere allegations shattered his life before hailing the good job he did at the White House.

We found out about it recently, and I was surprised by it, but we certainly wish him well, and it’s a tough time for him. He did a very good job when he was in the White House, and we hope he has a wonderful career, and he will have a great career ahead of him. But it was very sad when we heard about it, and certainly he’s also very sad now. He also, as you probably know, says he’s innocent, and I think you have to remember that. He said very strongly yesterday that he’s innocent, so you have to talk to him about that, but we absolutely wish him well. He did a very good job when he was at the White House.

According to Bob Woodward’s book (which relied heavily on Porter as a source), Kavanaugh recommended Porter for his old position as Staff Secretary.

And also the defense he mounted for Roy Moore, where he emphasized Moore’s denials even while continuing to campaign for him.

“He denies it. Look, he denies it,” Trump said of Moore. “If you look at all the things that have happened over the last 48 hours. He totally denies it. He says it didn’t happen. And look, you have to look at him also.”

To be sure, with Kavanaugh there’s no hint of serial abuse, as there was when Trump took the side of both Porter and Moore. Which is why Republicans should be really cautious about who comes out in defense of Kavanaugh. Because his character witnesses damn him as much as his unconvincing denials.

The Committee Playing Games with Perjury Referrals Swears They Can Make Mark Judge Tell the Truth without Testifying

Chuck Grassley and the other Republicans on the Senate Judiciary Committee are still trying to push Christine Blasey Ford testimony through in time to vote Kavanaugh out of the committee next week. As part of that, a Grassley Counsel who asserted, “Unfazed and determined. We will confirm Judge Kavanaugh,” is also boasting about his tough questioning in lieu of a formal investigation. As part of that, SJC Republicans are asserting that they “obtained a statement under penalty of perjury” from Mark Judge, who really doesn’t want to testify, in part because he has written extensively about his own misogyny and alcohol abuse.

Right.

This is the committee, remember that referred Christopher Steele to the FBI for lying to the FBI, but that refuses to make Don Jr testify a second time to clarify problems with his testimony, much less refer him to FBI for lying about a second meeting at which he accepted election assistance from a foreign government (actually two: the Saudis and the Emirates).

Chuck Grassley has already demonstrated his view of lying to the committee: He’s perfectly okay with it, so long as helps Republicans.

So that statement from Mark Judge, without public testimony, is absolutely worthless.

Father Doesn’t Know Best: Kavanaugh and Women’s Unshared Traumas

[NB: Check the byline. / ~Rayne]

This weekend brought back some ugly memories, one of which involved my father. We’ve never had a close relationship; it was rocky at times. But in 1991 one phone conversation particularly damaged my meager relations with him.

I can’t even remember why we had been talking on the phone — did he call me? Did I call him? The context’s utterly irrelevant now after all this time. But we butted heads about the Senate Judiciary Committee’s Clarence Thomas confirmation hearings.

Dad’s not political though he’s always been conservative. He’s a professional in a STEM field, raised Catholic, and a post-WWII veteran. Sadly, Dad’s racist in spite of being brown himself. This may come from having been raised where he was in the majority and not a minority. He wasn’t overtly racist as his closest friend in college was African. He’s not been overtly sexist. In my teens he argued with a small town school board so I could take wood shop. They didn’t let girls take that course in the early 1970s. Nor was I punished for bringing home Cs in typing though they were the lowest grades I’d ever had. He knew I’d need nominal keyboard skills as I was pursuing a STEM education in college.

But in all that I had known about my father by the time I was 30 years old, I’d made a miscalculation.

In that conversation we’d drifted into current affairs and the Senate’s hearing. I told him I was very upset. I’d hoped Clarence Thomas wouldn’t be confirmed. He wasn’t Supreme Court material based on his background and Hill’s testimony put Thomas’ character into question.

My father said he didn’t know why Anita Hill waited so long to say anything to anybody. Why hadn’t she spoken out at the time Thomas was harassing her? He suggested Hill was acting in bad faith.

I couldn’t say anything. Words wouldn’t come. It was as if I was talking to a stranger. To whom would a black woman go to complain about her boss’s sexual harassment? Especially if her boss was the chair of the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission? Who would take a young black woman’s word over that of a black man, let alone a man in charge of the EEOC? Why would a young black woman subject herself to more harassment by Senate Judiciary Committee and the public if not to protect the Supreme Court from an unworthy nominee?

At some point my understanding of the world forked sharply away from my father’s. It’s not as if he didn’t know women faced gross inequality. The fact he had to fight for my shop class was a concrete example. He’d heard plenty of stories about gender bias, sexual harassment and assault from my mother who worked in health care. Did he think that every girl or woman had some man who could make it better by going to bat for her? That some man would have resolved the harassment Hill faced in the work place had she simply come and asked them for help?

I didn’t know if he was naive. I didn’t know if this was a manifestation of his nebulous racism at some level. I didn’t know if it was misogyny I’d not detected in my father’s makeup to that point.

It took me a long time to get over this. I don’t know yet if I am over it because I struggled with the phrasing of that last sentence. I felt betrayed, as if he’d never seen the world as it was, nor had he seen me. I felt I’d betrayed myself for not seeing him more clearly.

It was some time before I realized he was as sexist as he was racist. Not overtly, and in spite of having two daughters in non-traditional STEM education paths — but his sexism was there and I’d internalized it.

It took me a while longer to realize I’d buried an episode which should have created a more realistic perception of my father.

~|~|~

When I was a pre-teen a group of boys harassed me. There was bodily contact, sexualized language, grabbing at clothing during class. The male teacher ejected me from class. He told my parents I was “precocious” which made no sense to me since I was a year younger and much smaller than the rest of my class, and I alone had been targeted. My father negotiated with the teacher and principal to let me to take this class independently — as if I was the one at fault and not the boys who’d harassed me. I was the one in the wrong because I was a girl. My father accepted this as fact. He didn’t demand the teacher do a better job of supervising his classroom.

I would bet good money that if asked now, none of the boys would remember harassing me. They might not even remember I was a former classmate. The situation mattered little to them, not changing their world one iota.

I never spoke with my father again about any problems I had with boys and men. I was on my own with the boys who shoved me around and pawed at me throughout high school or stole my drafting and engineering equipment. I was on my own when I got my first job in manufacturing as a co-op student, dealing with cat calls and sexual taunts and threats of violence. On my own when I didn’t get a raise when my boss said “his boys” in the department needed the raise that year.

Over the last couple of decades I’ve talked with many other girls and women about harassment. It’s nearly universal that women face it and sometimes with violence. Let me emphasize this: there are many, MANY women who were harassed, abused, assaulted in school and beyond who never reported it. They may never even have spoken about their experiences. But the system disempowers and marginalizes us; it maintains the status quo and actively resists change. It questions our ability to speak for ourselves. It places the value of a man’s career and lifestyle above any woman’s. Women’s empowerment and the ability to effect positive change has been close at times but we are still celebrating so many firsts. We haven’t yet a first woman president, or a first half of the Supreme Court or Congress, leaving us without adequate representation to protect our rights and interests though we are half this nation and give birth to the rest.

~|~|~

The revelation of Christine Blasey Ford’s name and the release of her letter to Senator Feinstein triggered memories. The harassment and abuse by teen boys, the Thomas confirmation hearings, that 1991 conversation with my father bubbled back up. Many women likewise revisited their own experiences. I’ve read their tweets consoling each other across Twitter. We and our traumas are finally seen and heard by each other in great numbers, but not by our government.

Like my father, this government assumes it’s her fault, not his. This government will go after Ford for speaking her truth. Its proxies villified her, some for not coming forward sooner though it wasn’t prepared and willing to help her back then. The system itself harasses women.

It wasn’t my fault I was harassed and abused. It wasn’t Anita Hill’s fault she was harassed, either, nor was it our fault we didn’t come forward. We couldn’t. It wasn’t Ford’s fault she was a 15-year-old abused by older teen boys at a time when such attacks were normalized in pop culture as humor. She couldn’t come forward then, either.

But now we and our many sisters can come forward together and say we believe Ford. We can say that what happened to her mattered then. It matters now because girls and women have a right to personal autonomy and self-determination. We can say that one man with a history of harassment seated for life on the highest court is more than enough, and that an admitted abuser has no right to appoint another man with a questionable history to the bench.

We can say it’s enough that Brett Kavanaugh has not been forthcoming about his shady finances even when asked to reply in writing. It’s beyond enough that he’s been a party to hiding a majority of his work. We can say we have heard enough of his prevarications before the Senate Judiciary Committee this month and in 2006.

We come forward now and say this is enough: Kavanaugh is not Supreme Court material and should withdraw his nomination. He should not be confirmed by the Senate.

At the very least Kavanaugh’s confirmation vote should be delayed. We should hear Ford’s testimony and Kavanaugh’s rebuttal, and as Marcy suggests, a witness to the assault on Ford.

~|~|~

Call your senator and ask for a delay on Kavanaugh’s confirmation; it would be better if Kavanaugh withdrew if we can’t hear from Ford, Kavanaugh and witnesses. Your calls are working at shifting GOP senators’ opinions.

Congressional switchboard: (202) 224-3121

Have Mark Judge Testify Along with Christine Blasey Ford (and Kavanaugh)

I am strongly opposed to giving the President any “break” in the questioning regarding the details of the Lewinsky relationship — unless before his questioning on Monday, he either (i) resigns or (ii) confesses perjury and issues a public apology to you. I have tried hard to bend over backwards and to be fair to him and to think of all reasonable defenses to his pattern of behavior. In the end, I am convinced that there really are none. The idea of going easy on him at the questioning is thus abhorrent to me.

SCOTUS nominee Brett Kavanaugh’s justification for asking the President (among other things): “If Monica Lewinsky says that you ejaculated in her mouth on two occasions in the Oval Office, would she be lying?”

As you’ve no doubt heard, the woman accusing Brett Kavanaugh of attempted rape during high school, Christine Blasey Ford, has come forward. Her lawyer, Debra Katz, says Ford is willing to testify before Congress, though no one has yet asked her to.

If she’s willing, I’m all in favor of having Ford testify. After all, Brett Kavanaugh thinks a 17-year old must jump through extraordinary hoops before she can terminate an unwanted pregnancy; surely he thinks young men should similarly bear the consequences of their actions?

But she shouldn’t testify alone. Mark Judge should testify along with her. After all, according to her letter and the WaPo account, he was a witness to the event.

Kavanaugh physically pushed me into a bedroom as I was headed for a bathroom up a short stair well from the living room. They locked the door and played loud music precluding any successful attempt to yell for help.
Kavanaugh was on top of me while laughing with REDACTED, who periodically jumped onto Kavanaugh. They both laughed as Kavanaugh tried to disrobe me in their highly inebriated state. With Kavanaugh’s hand over my mouth I feared he may inadvertently kill me.
From across the room a very drunken REDACTED said mixed words to Kavanaugh ranging from “go for it” to “stop.”
At one point when REDACTED jumped onto the bed the weight on me was substantial. The pile toppled, and the two scrapped with each other. After a few attempts to get away, I was able to take this opportune moment to get up and run across to a hallway bathroom. I locked the bathroom door behind me. Both loudly stumbled down the stair well at which point other persons at the house were talking with them. I exited the bathroom, ran outside of the house and went home.
I have not knowingly seen Kavanaugh since the assault. I did see REDACTED once at the REDACTED where he was extremely uncomfortable seeing me.

And while he currently claims he doesn’t recall the event, she says that the one time they crossed paths afterwards, he exhibited discomfort upon seeing her.

Judge has also admitted to being an alcoholic in high school. He and Kavanaugh both admitted to being Keg Club members together, and they appear in a number of pictures together. In addition, Judge’s comments about women at the time were pretty atrocious.

Virtually all the people attacking Ford’s story are utterly silent on Judge’s presence as a witness. I suspect that’s because both his own descriptions of his social life at the time, and his professed inability to recall the event, might suggest that Kavanaugh, too, was simply too drunk to remember this attempted rape.

So if we’re going to put Ford (and Kavanaugh) under oath, let’s also put the one witness under oath, the one Ford says not only told Kavanaugh to “stop,” but actually saved her by piling on top of the two of them, the one who (Ford claims) exhibited some memory of the event after the fact by exhibiting discomfort.

Update: Brit Hume’s daughter, Virginia, who went to Holton Arms with Ford and organized the letter signed by 65 women attesting to Kavanaugh’s character, was tweeting with Judge about ignoring youthful indiscretions last year.

Manafort Turns State’s Evidence: “It’s Time for Some Game Theory”

It took a day for the President to complain after his former campaign manager, having spent the week proffering up testimony, flipped on Friday. When he did, Trump tied the Mueller investigation to polls (and upcoming midterm elections) for the first time in a Tweet.

Of course, his freebie legal PR hack, Rudy Giuliani has been tying midterms to the investigation for some time in his insistence that no indictments can come between now and then. Rudy should be happy, then, that Paul Manfort’s plea avoids a four week trial for Trump’s campaign manager right in the middle of election season.

But he’s not.

I mean, at first, Rudy put a brave face on things Friday, claiming,

Once again an investigation has concluded with a plea having nothing to do with President Trump or the Trump campaign. The reason: the President did nothing wrong and Paul Manafort will tell the truth.

But almost immediately after making that statement, Rudy took out the part about Manafort telling the truth.

Roger Stone, who’s shrewder than Rudy, immediately suggested anything Manafort may be saying (or may already have said) implicating him would be a lie.

I am uncertain of the details of Paul’s plea deal but certain it has no bearing on me since neither Paul Manafort or anyone else can testify truthfully that I am involved in Russian collusion, WikiLeaks collaboration or any other illegal act pertaining to the 2016 election.

Though of course, Stone’s seeming awareness that Mueller might pursue Manafort testimony about Stone reveals his brave comment for the lie it is.

I’m more interested, however, in Rudy’s (and John Dowd’s) apparent desperation to stave off a mass prisoner’s dilemma.

Manafort first proffered testimony Monday, September 10. Rudy was still boasting about how much he knew about Manafort’s thinking for a Thursday Politico story — though he based that off conversations before and after the EDVA trial, which had ended three weeks earlier.

Giuliani also confirmed that Trump’s lawyers and Manafort’s have been in regular contact and that they are part of a joint defense agreement that allows confidential information sharing.

“All during the investigation we have an open communication with them,” he said. “Defense lawyers talk to each other all the time, where, as long as our clients authorize it, therefore we have a better idea of what’s going to happen. That’s very common.”

Giuliani confirmed he spoke with Manafort’s lead defense lawyer Kevin Downing shortly before and after the verdicts were returned in the Virginia trial, but the former mayor wouldn’t say what he discusses with the Manafort team. “It’d all be attorney-client privilege, not just from our point of view but from theirs,” he said.

Immediately after Manafort’s cooperation was announced, both NPR and the same Politico team that had been quoting Rudy’s bravura reported that someone close to Manafort said there would be no cooperation against the President. In later stories, both quote Sarah Huckabee Sanders and Rudy claiming Manafort’s cooperation has nothing to do with the President.

Despite Manafort’s having led the campaign, the White House has sought to distance itself from him and his case.

“This had absolutely nothing to do with the president or his victorious 2016 presidential campaign,” press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders said Friday. “It is totally unrelated.”

Trump’s personal lawyer Rudy Giuliani echoed that idea, adding that “the president did nothing wrong.”

But the NPR version includes this correction.

Editor’s note: An early version of this story published before all the court documents in the case were available contained a characterization from a person familiar with the case that said Manafort’s cooperation would be limited. When charging documents and other materials appeared, they did not support that and the characterization was removed.

And the Politico noted how quickly Rudy backed off his claim that Manafort would testify truthfully.

Of course, anyone who has read the plea agreement closely — up to and including the government’s ability to declare Manafort in breach of the agreement with only a good faith rather than preponderance of the evidence standard —

— and it’s clear that if Mueller’s team wants Manafort to testify about Trump, he will.

Meanwhile, Rudy is yelling on Twitter that the morning shows aren’t taking his word about what Manafort is testifying about over what the clear text of the plea agreement suggests.

I’m more interested still that John Dowd emailed the lawyers for the (reportedly 37, though the number is likely smaller now) other witnesses in the Joint Defense Agreement, claiming outlandishly that Manafort has no evidence on Trump.

The President’s lawyers — the one who currently “works” for him for “free” and the one who allegedly doesn’t work for him anymore but recently got lionized in Woodward’s book as his main source about the Mueller investigation, and in that role was shown to be either an idiot or a fantasist, that the “free” one cites to claim that Woodward exonerates the President — are working very hard to convince others that Manafort’s plea deal doesn’t mean the calculation both other witnesses and the Republican party have been making has to change.

They’re trying to stave off an awful game of prisoner’s dilemma.

Consider if you’re one of the other 37 (which might be down to 34 given known cooperators, or maybe even fewer given how uncertain Rudy seems to be about Don McGahn’s third session of testimony) members of the Joint Defense Agreement, especially if you’re one who has already testified before the grand jury about matters that Manafort (and Gates) might be able to refute. So long as there’s no chance Trump will be touched, you’re probably still safe, as you can count on Trump rewarding those who maintain the omertà or at the very least working to kill the Mueller inquiry shortly after the election.

But if you have doubts about that — or concerns that other witnesses might have doubts about that — you still have an opportunity to recall the things you claimed you could not recall a year ago. Depending on how central your testimony is, you might even be able to slip in and fix your testimony unnoticed.

So each of 37 (or maybe just 30) people are considering whether they have to recalculate their decisions about whether to remain loyal to the President or take care of themselves.

Meanwhile, there’s the Republican party. Admittedly, the Republicans are unlikely to do anything until they rush through Brett Kavanaugh’s confirmation, even if doing so without first inquiring about the allegation that he assaulted a girl when he was in high school will damage their electoral prospects with women in November.

But once they’ve got Kavanaugh confirmed (assuming no big news breaks in the Mueller investigation before that), then the calculation may change. Right now, a lot of Republicans believe they have to stick with Trump through the election, if only to ensure the GOP base turns out. But if Trump’s poll numbers continue to sink — and as the numbers of those who strongly disapprove of Trump continue to grow — Republicans in certain kinds of districts (especially suburbs) will have an incentive to distance themselves from the President.

All that’s a straight calculation based on whether Trump will help or hurt more, come November. But the Republican party, from Trump’s endless repetition of “no collusion;” to Devin Nunes’ naked attempt to obstruct the Mueller investigation; to Chuck Grassley and Lindsey Graham’s referral of Christopher Steele rather than Don Jr for perjury charges; to Mark Meadows’ latest attempts to turn Lisa Page and Peter Strzok’s attempts to chase down someone leaking about Carter Page into a suggestion they themselves leaked; to Richard Burr’s cynical boasts that his committee hasn’t found stuff they wouldn’t chase down if they had been told of it, has invested everything on a gamble that Trump was telling the truth (or, more cynically, that he could stave off discovery of any conspiracy he entered into with Russia).

Republicans have invested a whole lot into attempting to give the President a clean bill of health.

Meanwhile, his campaign manager — a guy many of them have worked with — is presumably now doing the opposite, telling Mueller precisely what the Republicans have been working so hard to suppress for 18 months.

At some point, the ones who have been playing along even while admitting that the President probably did conspire with Russia (I know of some who believe that’s likely), will make their move.

If the GOP were less dysfunctional, they’d do it sooner rather than later, cut their losses with Trump to try to salvage the Pence presidency (whom they like far more anyway). But for now, that calculation of whether or not to do so is likely happening in private.

I’m in no way promising Manafort’s plea deal will set off two parallel floods of rats fleeing the Trump JDA or his presidency generally. These are Republicans, after all, and I’m sure they still would prefer obstructing the whole thing away.

I don’t think a mass abandonment of Trump is going to happen anytime soon.

But Trump’s lawyers do seem worried that could happen.

Trump needs his fellow Republicans to believe that Paul Manafort isn’t providing evidence that incriminates him. Because if they start to believe that, their calculations behind support for him may change, and change quickly.

As I disclosed in July, I provided information to the FBI on issues related to the Mueller investigation, so I’m going to include disclosure statements on Mueller investigation posts from here on out. I will include the disclosure whether or not the stuff I shared with the FBI pertains to the subject of the post. 

The Other Thing Kavanaugh and Trump Share: Hidden Money Stories

This week, Senate Judiciary Committee members are releasing their Questions for the Record for Brett Kavanaugh (questions that he won’t be able to answer given the accelerated confirmation process Chuck Grassley has set). Sheldon Whitehouse’s QFRs have already generated considerable notice. Amid questions about predictable legal (prosecuting a president, environmental rulings, Roe, transgender rights, labor, guns) and GOP rat-fuckery (Starr, staff secretary, and other Bush White House policy issues), Whitehouse asked two questions that should have but did not come up in his hearing: about how debt allegedly tied to Washington Nationals season tickets evaporated when he came under consideration for SCOTUS, and the possibility he’s a heavy gambler (as suggested by one of the letters Don McGahn and Bill Burck tried to keep hidden).

But I’m more interested in some of Whitehouse’s other questions about finances. First, after asking about the baseball tickets, Whitehouse asks why the aspiring Justice has declared himself “exempt” from reporting certain gifts and/or reimbursements.

14. On your Financial Disclosure Report dated July 15, 2018 in Section V. Gifts, you did not check the box for no reportable gifts, you simply wrote “Exempt.”

a. Does this response indicate that you received a gift(s) but considered that gift(s) exempt from the reporting requirements?

b. For each gift (if any) you believe is exempt from reporting, please provide a description of the gift, the approximate value, date received, the donor, and the reason you believe the gift was exempt from reporting requirements.

15. On your Financial Disclosure Report dated July 15, 2018, you did not list any reimbursements. Instead you simply wrote “Exempt.”

a. Does this response indicate that you received reimbursement(s) but considered that reimbursement(s) exempt from the reporting requirements?

b. For each reimbursement you believe is exempt from reporting, please provide a description of the costs incurred, reasons for the costs, the date and amount of any reimbursements that you received for these costs, and the reason you believe the reimbursement was exempt from reporting requirements.

If, as he has claimed, the baseball tickets ended up being gifted by someone, they should be declared here. But then, having asked whether Kavanaugh isn’t declaring gifts he should, Whitehouse then asks about some financial details that also might amount to gifts or other income requiring disclosure: A cost of living adjustment he is known to have received as a judge, a big bump in assets in 2008-2009, the unexplained source of money he used to buy his home, and his membership at Chevy Chase Golf Club.

16. In 2014, federal judges received a lump sum equal to the amount of their delayed cost of living adjustments. For you, this was estimated at $150,000. This amount does not appear to be reported anywhere in your financial disclosures. Please explain this discrepancy.

17. Your Bank of America accounts appear to have greatly increased in value between 2008 and 2009. Your Financial Disclosure Report dated May 15, 2009 reflected a value in the range of $15,001 – $50,000. Your Financial Disclosure Report dated May 14, 2010 reflected a value in the range of $100,001 – $250,000. You did not report any increase in Non-Investment Income, nor did you report any gifts during this period. Please explain the source of the funds that accounts for the difference reflected in these accounts between your 2008 and 2009 Financial Disclosure Reports.

18. In 2006, you purchased your primary residence in Chevy Chase, MD for $1,225,000, however, the value of assets reportedly maintained in your “Bank of America Accounts” in the years before, during, and after this purchase never decreased, indicating that funds used to pay the down payment and secure this home did not come from these accounts.

a. Did you receive financial assistance in order to purchase this home? And if so, was the assistance provided in the form of a gift or a personal loan?

b. If you received financial assistance, please provide details surrounding how this assistance was provided, including the amount(s) of the assistance, date(s) on which the assistance was provided, and the individual(s) who provided this assistance.

c. Was this financial assistance disclosed on your income tax returns, financial disclosure forms, or any other reporting document?

19. You have disclosed in your responses to the Senate Judiciary Questionnaire that you are currently a member of the Chevy Chase Club. It has been reported that the initiation fee to join this club is $92,000 and annual dues total more than $9,000.

a. How much was the initiation fee required for you to join the Chevy Chase Club? What are the annual dues to maintain membership and is this the amount that you pay?

b. Did you receive any financial assistance or beneficial reduction in the rate to pay the initiation or annual fees? If so, please describe the circumstances.

c. If you received financial assistance, please disclose the amount of the assistance, the terms, the dates the assistance was provided, and the individual(s) or entity that provided the assistance.

d. To the extent such assistance or rate reduction could be deemed a “gift,” was it reflected on your income tax returns, financial disclosure forms, or any other reporting document?

The beauty of these questions is that — while I fully expect Kavanaugh to just blow off the slew of questions he’s getting this week (given that they’ve broken the rules everywhere else on this nomination, why the fuck not on QFRs?) — he is now on notice that these financial issues have been noted. If he doesn’t fix any non-disclosures now, he will no longer be able to claim that his failure to disclose required items was just a mistake.

And Whitehouse might believe there are more. He asks, first directly, and then at the end of the series of questions Whitehouse poses about the credit card debt, whether Kavanaugh’s in debt to people he hasn’t told us about.

Are there any debts, creditors, or related items that you did not disclose on your FBI disclosures?

Did you have any creditors, private or otherwise, not listed in your Financial Disclosure Reports?

My favorite bit about Whitehouse’s QFRs, however, is that at the end of all these financial questions, the former US Attorney and Attorney General then asks whether lying under oath is an impeachable offense.

24. Is lying under oath an impeachable offense for an Article III judge?

You see, we can argue Kavanaugh lied under oath in his confirmation until we’re blue in the face. Kavanaugh, each time, will offer a well practiced lawyer’s parse about how his transparently dishonest comments don’t amount to perjury, and he’ll get away with that.

But finances are a different issue. Whitehouse has put Kavanaugh on notice that not disclosing certain things — like who paid for his house or paid off his season ticket debt — will amount to lying.

So Kavanaugh may blow off these questions. But that may come back to haunt him.

Update: Here are Kavanaugh’s answers on finances — basically, he says he has followed disclosure guidelines on all of this, which may necessarily mean that the big ticket items, including the down payment for his home, came from Daddy. The one thing not addressed here are big gifts from family.

I have truthfully provided financial information in conjunction with this nomination process and my service in the judicial and executive branches. Since I graduated from law school in 1990, I have worked in public service for 25 of those 28 years. For most of her years of paid employment, my wife likewise has been a federal, state, or local government worker.

During that time, I have filed regular financial disclosure reports as required by law. The Federal Government’s required financial disclosure reports list broad ranges for one’s assets and debt as of one day or period in time.

At this time, my wife and I have no debts other than our home mortgage. We have the following assets:

(1) A house minus the mortgage;

(2) Two Federal Government Thrift Savings Plan retirement accounts (largely accessible to us beginning in 2024), as well as a Texas employees’ retirement account;

(3) A bank account;

(4) A car that we own and a car that we lease; and

(5) Ordinary personal furniture, clothing, and belongings.

Since our marriage in 2004, we have not owned stocks, bonds, mutual funds, or other similar financial investments outside of our retirement accounts.

Our annual income includes my income as a federal judge, my income from teaching law each year, and now also my wife’s income from being Town Manager of Section 5 of Chevy Chase, Maryland. Our annual income and financial worth substantially increased in the last few years as a result of a significant annual salary increase for federal judges; a substantial back pay award in the wake of class litigation over pay for the Federal Judiciary; and my wife’s return to the paid workforce following the many years that she took off from paid work in order to stay with and care for our daughters. The back pay award was excluded from disclosure on my previous financial disclosure report based on the Filing Instructions for Judicial Officers and Employees, which excludes income from the Federal Government. We have not received financial gifts other than from our family which are excluded from disclosure in judicial financial disclosure reports. Nor have we received other kinds of gifts from anyone outside of our family, apart from ordinary non-reportable gifts related to, for example, birthdays, Christmas, or personal hospitality. On the 2018 financial disclosure report, I correctly listed “exempt” for gifts and reimbursements because those are the explicit instructions in the 2018 Filing Instructions for Judicial Officers and Employees.

At this time, we have no debts other than our home mortgage. Over the years, we carried some personal debt. That debt was not close to the top of the ranges listed on the financial disclosure reports. Over the years, we have sunk a decent amount of money into our home for sometimes unanticipated repairs and improvements. As many homeowners probably appreciate, the list sometimes seems to never end, and for us it has included over the years: replacing the heating and air conditioning system and air conditioning units, replacing the water heater, painting and repairing the full exterior of the house, painting the interior of the house, replacing the porch flooring on the front and side porches with composite wood, gutter repairs, roof repairs, new refrigerator, new oven, ceiling leaks, ongoing flooding in the basement, waterproofing the basement, mold removal in the basement, drainage work because of excess water outside the house that was running into the neighbor’s property, fence repair, and so on. Maintaining a house, especially an old house like ours, can be expensive. I have not had gambling debts or participated in “fantasy” leagues.

The Thrift Savings Plan loan that appears on certain disclosure reports was a Federal Government loan to help with the down payment on our house in 2006. That government loan program is available for federal government workers to help with the purchase of their first house. In our case, that loan was paid back primarily by regular deductions from my paycheck, in the same way that taxes and insurance premiums are deducted from my paycheck. That loan has been paid off in full. I am a huge sports fan. When the Nationals came to D.C. in 2005, I purchased four season tickets in my name every season from 2005 through 2017. I also purchased playoff packages for the four years that the Nationals made the playoffs (2012, 2014, 2016 and 2017.) I have attended all 11 Nationals’ home playoff games in their history. (We are 3-8 in those games.) I have attended a couple of hundred regular season games. As is typical with baseball season tickets, I had a group of old friends who would split games with me. We would usually divide the tickets in a “ticket draft” at my house. Everyone in the group paid me for their tickets based on the cost of the tickets, to the dollar. No one overpaid or underpaid me for tickets. No loans were given in either direction.

My wife and I spend money on our daughters and sports, including as members of the Chevy Chase Club, which we joined in recent years. We paid the full price of the club’s entry fee, and we pay regular dues in the same amount that other members pay. We did not and do not receive any discounts. The club is a minute’s drive from our house, and there is an outdoor ice hockey rink and a very good youth ice hockey program. We joined primarily because of the ice hockey program that my younger daughter participates in, as well as because of the gym.

Finally, it bears repeating that financial disclosure reports are not meant to provide one’s overall net worth or overall financial situation. They are meant to identify conflicts of interest. Therefore, they are not good tools for assessing one’s net worth or financial situation. Here, by providing all of this additional information, I hope that I have helped the Committee.

He refused to answer Whitehouse’s question about whether lying under oath is cause for impeachment.