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Kavanaugh’s Tell: “Revenge on Behalf of the Clintons,” Plural

There’s a part of Brett Kavanaugh’s bombastic statement Thursday that has stuck with me, because it reveals the foundational logic of his statement — indeed, his entire candidacy for a lifetime appointment on the Supreme Court.

After complaining about how the nomination has destroyed his family, he accuses a shady, largely fictional, mirror image of the Right Wing Noise Machine of seeking revenge.

This whole two-week effort has been a calculated and orchestrated political hit, fueled with apparent pent-up anger about President Trump and the 2016 election. Fear that has been unfairly stoked about my judicial record. Revenge on behalf of the Clintons. and millions of dollars in money from outside left-wing opposition groups.

This is a circus. The consequences will extend long past my nomination. The consequences will be with us for decades. This grotesque and coordinated character assassination will dissuade competent and good people of all political persuasions, from serving our country.

The guy who insisted that–

I am strongly opposed to giving the President any ‘break’ in the questioning regarding the details of the Lewinsky relationship — unless before questioning on Monday, he either (i) resigns or (ii) confesses perjury and issues a public apology to [sexual assault cover-up expert Ken Starr].

That guy thinks the scrutiny of his own sexual past is just “revenge on behalf of the Clintons,” plural. Not just Hillary for — as he explicitly mentions — “President Trump and the 2016 election.” But also Bill Clinton, the man whom Kavanaugh demanded describe details of his use of sex toys and enjoyment of blowjobs under oath, and perhaps even Chelsea, the young girl who had to watch her parents be humiliated before the entire nation.

In spite of Kavanaugh’s suggestion that this imagined campaign would have consequences for decades, his admission that it might be revenge means it must be revenge for something. For something done to the Clintons. Hillary. And Bill.

For a guy who is unashamed about using stolen emails, the notion that he considers this revenge for Hillary is troubling enough. If this is revenge, it is revenge for Hillary being wronged during the 2016 election, and a big part of that wrong was using stolen emails. And Kavanaugh is no more embarrassed about using stolen emails than the guy who appointed him.

Kavanaugh suggests, in the same breath, that Hillary was wronged, but that denying him a seat on the Supreme Court, even for behavior that resembles that wrong, would be an outrage, even if his nomination was due entirely to the fact that she was wronged.

Brett Kavanaugh is not going to quit, no matter if his entire nomination is illegitimate because Hillary was wronged.

Perhaps more plausibly, Kavanaugh’s use of the plural, “Clintons,” suggests he thinks this is revenge for his own actions 20 years ago, his own demand that a man and his family be publicly humiliated.

But, again, if this is revenge, it suggests what happened to Clinton — the insistence that Bill confess under oath to Kavanaugh about cumming into Monica’s mouth — was itself wrong.

And once again, Brett Kavanaugh, the guy whose career was launched by demanding to hear the sordid details of sex under oath, does not care. Kavanaugh does not care that (as David Brock laid out early in this process) he himself “set a perjury trap for Clinton, laying the foundation for a crazed national political crisis and an unjust impeachment over a consensual affair.” He may recognize this as revenge and in so doing acknowledge that it is akin to the coordinated campaign he wrongly assumes is amassed against him, but he does not care that Democrats are (he imagines) adopting his own playbook.

You may defeat me in the final vote, but you’ll never get me to quit. Never.

In using that word “revenge” and imagining that Democrats are exacting revenge for both the Clinton impeachment and the use of corrupt means as a means of winning the 2016 election, Kavanaugh admits that he’s just getting a taste of the medicine he once administered. But his response to that is not to take a step back from the edge of the abyss that he himself created (and imagines himself to be standing on), take a step back with the recognition that he himself is not immune from his own tactics, but instead to complete the next logical step, the adoption of those same measures on the highest court of the land.

Never mind that by imagining credible questions about his past treatment of women is solely about the Clintons strips the agency of the millions of women trying to prevent abusers from again getting promoted in spite of it.

Kavanaugh, wrongly, thinks this is revenge for tactics he pioneered long ago. Having faced those tactics and discovered how painful they are, he has doubled down.

On Squi and the 65-Lady Letter

This is an insight I owe entirely to a reader, BI.

There should be an explanation for why Christine Blasey Ford was (presumably) not invited to be on the 65-lady letter backing Brett Kavanaugh pulled together just as allegations of sexual assault became public.

In spite of the fact that it got entered into the record multiple times in Thursday’s hearing, it already had diminishing value as a measure of Kavanaugh’s character. After Ford’s identity was made public, some of the women who signed the letter grew reluctant to stand by their support publicly.

Five of the women who signed the letter declined to comment when reached by POLITICO following the public revelation of Ford’s identity.

Dozens of others either didn’t respond to POLITICO’s inquiries or could not be reached.

The AP reported that “more than a dozen” stood by the letter after Ford came forward, which is not 65.

More strikingly, one of the signers of the letter, Renate Schroeder Dolphin, upon realizing that she was mocked in the yearbooks of 14 boys, including Kavanaugh, spoke instead about how hurtful his circle of friends was.

This month, Renate Schroeder Dolphin joined 64 other women who, saying they knew Judge Kavanaugh during their high school years, signed a letter to the leaders of the Senate Judiciary Committee, which is weighing Judge Kavanaugh’s nomination. The letter stated that “he has behaved honorably and treated women with respect.”

When Ms. Dolphin signed the Sept. 14 letter, she wasn’t aware of the “Renate” yearbook references on the pages of Judge Kavanaugh and his football teammates.

“I learned about these yearbook pages only a few days ago,” Ms. Dolphin said in a statement to The New York Times. “I don’t know what ‘Renate Alumnus’ actually means. I can’t begin to comprehend what goes through the minds of 17-year-old boys who write such things, but the insinuation is horrible, hurtful and simply untrue. I pray their daughters are never treated this way. I will have no further comment.”

So the letter should not, now, be treated as a validating document.

That said, if Ford was not invited to be on the letter, then it is itself proof that the letter does not reflect the views of all the women who were spending time with Kavanaugh during the summer in question.

Having spoken to some folks who were in these circles at the time, I’m not at all suspicious of the explanation behind how the letter came together immediately after Ford’s allegations — but not her identity — were made public.

It started as a series of phone calls among old high-school friends and ended up embroiling 65 women in the firestorm over a sexual assault allegation that could shape the Supreme Court.

In a matter of hours, they all signed onto a letter rallying behind high court nominee and their high school friend Brett Kavanaugh as someone who “has always treated women with decency and respect.”

I don’t regularly use Facebook. I’m not even in close contact with friends from college (who remain a tight-knit network), much less either of my high schools. But for those who do remain close with friends from their youth, especially on Facebook, such a feat would be easy to do. The network that remains close would easily come up with 65 signers. (For what it’s worth, the one network from my youth where I could be relied on to pipe up this quickly includes at least two men I know raped women in the women in the network.)

But Ford presumably wasn’t invited to be on the letter.

There are several possible explanations why she wouldn’t be, but both discredit the letter itself.

The most plausible is that she simply doesn’t run in those circles anymore. She lives on the west coast, she suffered a trauma associated with this network, she found socializing generally more difficult in the years immediately after the assault, which would have been precisely the period when she might keep up those ties.

That’s all well and good, except testimony in Thursday’s hearing makes clear that — regardless of what happened between Kavanaugh and Ford — she is one of the women who might have insight on his behavior at the time. That’s because both Kavanaugh and Ford each spent a lot of time, individually and (at least according to Ford) together that summer with the guy Ed Whelan falsely accused of the assault, whom I’ll refer to only as Squi.

On 13 occasions, Kavanaugh refers to someone named “Squi” on his calendar. It’s the name that crops up the most. Kavanaugh and Squi, who played on the Georgetown Prep football team with him, went to a Washington Bullets game, to Squi’s house in Rehoboth, to see movies, to the beach. On July 1, Kavanaugh, Judge, PJ, Squi and two others go to “Timmy’s for skis” — an apparent reference to going to a friend’s house for beers (“brewskis”).

[snip]

Ford explained. The shared connection to Kavanaugh was the person who Whelan suggested might be the real culprit.

“How long did you know this person?” Mitchell asked.

“Maybe for— a couple of months we socialized,” Ford replied. “But he also was a member of the same country club, and I knew his younger brother as well.” That was a couple of months prior to the alleged attack, Mitchell clarified.

Mitchell then asked Ford to explain the nature of her relationship with that person.

“He was somebody that, I will use the phrase ‘I went out with,’ ” Ford said, using air quotes. “I wouldn’t say ‘date.’ I would say ‘went out with’ for a few months. That was how we termed it at the time.”

[snip]

Ford, in other words, claims that she had been going out with Squi for months before the alleged incident in the summer of 1982. Kavanaugh’s calendar from that year shows that he spent a lot of time with Squi as well. And Kavanaugh further alleges that he “may” have met Ford but that they “did not travel in the same social circle” and that “she was not a friend, not someone I knew.”

Ford went out with Squi (though earlier than the assault, it sounds like), and Kavanaugh spent tons of time with him. If you want to know how Kavanaugh and his buddies treated women that summer, you’d want to ask the women who were dating his buddies. But the letter signers apparently didn’t ask Ford.

Which means they asked a sample of women who remain close whether Kavanaugh treated women well, not the sample that might be best situated to attest to how he treated women that summer. (It’s also possible that Kavanaugh treated the girls from Georgetown Prep’s sister Catholic schools differently than they treated girls from other schools, though the letter includes women who attended both Catholic and non-Catholic schools.)

Of course, there’s a more nefarious possibility, the counterpart to the nefarious possibility that Ed Whelan targeted Squi precisely because he had learned who Ford was before her name became public and knew her connection to Kavanaugh went through Squi and knew that by falsely accusing Squi (who signed the male letter of support for Kavanaugh but has since gotten furious at being falsely accused of assault), he would discredit a key piece of evidence showing that Kavanaugh did travel in the same circles as Ford. That nefarious counterpart possibility is that enough women heard of the attempted rape at the time, knew which woman had been victimized, and so when calling around for supporters, avoided Ford.

The former is the more likely explanation: that the circle of women who — before knowing Ford’s identity, at least — were willing to make a show of a support for a powerful man who was about to become even more powerful, self-selected for those remain close to those who did have positive experiences with this crowd back in the day.

But if it is indeed true that Ford was not asked to sign, then it cannot be considered the proper sample to understand how Kavanaugh was treating women that summer.

The Record Supports Christine Blasey Ford

This may sound counterintuitive. But the Republican-led whitewash hearing into allegations that Brett Kavanaugh assaulted Christine Blasey Ford actually ended up supporting her case, not Kavanaugh’s.

Ford withstood Rachel Mitchell’s interrogation

As bmaz noted, the Republicans hired a skirt: Maricopa sex crimes prosecutor Rachel Mitchell.

Mitchell conducted all of the questioning — save one impetuous outburst from Lindsey Graham — of Ford. And Mitchell tried diligently to challenge Ford’s account. She started by asking Ford to review all her statements and correct and inconsistencies in her past statements, something she did not do thoroughly with Kavanaugh. She then challenged Ford’s story in a few places, first by shadowing the Ed Whelan theory that the house in question must belong to the parents of Kavanaugh’s doppelganger, Chris Garrett (later testimony would make clear Garrett was how Ford first got introduced to the Kavanaugh crowd); Ford dismissed that by answering that the house in question might be in a broader area. Mitchell tried to suggest that Ford’s symptoms — including PTSD and anxiety — might come from other reasons; but because this is Ford’s academic expertise, Ford swatted those away with science. Mitchell made much of the fact that Ford declined to travel to DC in spite of her dislike of air travel, even though she travels for a yearly family visit and vacations. Mitchell also tried to insinuate that some political actors either coached her or paid for Ford’s polygraph, but Ford’s lawyers pointed out they had paid for it, as is the norm. And Ford’s own timeline simply didn’t support the claim she was politically coached. Mitchell invented a claim, out of an indistinct claim by Ford, that she had wanted to keep her testimony confidential up until the original hearing. In the end, Mitchell got Ford to admit — relying on her expertise — that five minute sessions like this hearing weren’t the best way to get the truth from victims of trauma, which would seem to support a longer investigation, not the kind of hearing Mitchell had been paid to star in.

Ford withstood all those questions with grace (and the timely intervention of her attorneys).

Kavanaugh spent 45 minutes ranting like a belligerent drunk

Chuck Grassley unwisely let each witness take as much time as they wanted for opening statements.

After Ford took a normal amount of time, Kavanaugh, bidding for Trump’s support, took a full 45 minutes for his statement.

His statement was delivered shrilly, with an angry red face, just short of screaming. Coming after hours of testimony he was sometimes a violent drunk, Kavanaugh looked during his statement like the drunk you avoid in the parking lot of a bar, because it’s just not worthwhile human interaction. I don’t rule out him drinking while watching Ford’s testimony, nor did others.

In short, Kavanaugh looked like a guy who could not manage rage, just as numerous witnesses had described him being as as a drunk.

The Mark Judge Safeway timing suggests a late June/early July assault

One reason Ford repeatedly said she’d like an FBI interview is because she assumed that if she could date an exchange she had with Mark Judge after her assault, she might be able to narrow down when the actual event occurred. Republicans want to avoid having Judge’s public comments about drunken debauchery in the time period reviewed by any credible questioner.

Judge has written about that in his book, describing working at the local Safeway for a few weeks to pay for Football camp.

According to Kavanaugh’s calendar, football camp started on August 23 that year.

Ford testified that her exchange with Judge took place 6 to 8 weeks after the incident.

Ford: We had always been friendly with one another. I wouldn’t characterize him as not friendly. He looked ill. Says it happened 6-8 weeks after the incident.

If Judge was working for the few weeks prior to Football camp to pay for it and his and Kavanaugh’s exchange with Ford happened 6 to 8  weeks earlier, that would put the assault in early July.

That would mean this entry, for an event on Thursday, July 1, 1982, in Kavanaugh’s calendar would be solidly within that range.

The Republicans fire their prosecutor after she corroborates Ford’s story

And Kavanaugh’s testimony actually supports Ford.

Start with the claim, in his opening rant, that he usually only drank on weekends. That makes no sense because Judge’s book about the period describes being dysfunctionally hungover routinely while he worked at the Potomac Safeway to earn money for Football camp.

Kavanaugh claims this had to be a weekend bc they all worked. But Judge said he routinely went to work badly hungover.

Then Mitchell started questioning Kavanaugh. She started by asking him to review the definition of sexual assault, as she asked Ford to do. Kavanaugh got a weird set to his lips.

Shortly thereafter, she turned to his calendar, getting him to confirm that he wrote everything in there. In her next round, Mitchell’s first questions were about the July 1 entry. After filibustering about the earlier workout session (about which he wasn’t asked), Kavanaugh admitted that the entry showed he got together at Tim Gaudet’s —  with Mark Judge and PJ Smith — and Chris Garrett, whose nickname is Squi.

In other words, Kavanaugh confirmed he was at a small gathering with the boys Ford said were there, as well as the guy who had introduced her to these boys.

Durbin’s questioning followed, after which Lindsey Graham took over questioning from Mitchell and went on a tear, calling it an unethical sham. Having gotten Kavanaugh to identify a get-together that matched Ford’s description, Mitchell was done questioning for the day.

Effectively, the GOP hired a prosecutor to question a victim, but decided the alleged perpetrator could not withstand the same prosecutor’s questions as soon as she had him identify a get-together that resembled the one described by Ford.

Kavanaugh thrice stopped short of denying being a blackout drunk

One problem with Kavanaugh’s testimony is that he and his alleged accomplice, Mark Judge, are reported to be blackout drunks. Judge even wrote a book admitting to the fact. So Kavanaugh went to some lengths trying to avoid admitting that he had ever blacked out, even while he admitted, “I like beer,” over and over.

The first came, in her first round, when Mitchell asked Kavanaugh what he considered too many beers.

Mitchell: What do you consider to be too many beers?

Kav: I don’t know, whatever the chart says.

[snip]

Mitchell: Have you ever passed out from drinking?

Kav: Passed out would be no, but I’ve gone to sleep. I’ve never blacked out. That’s the allegation, and that’s wrong.

That’s when Republican Senators started to look worried. They gave Kavanaugh one of his three lifeline breaks.

Kavanaugh repeatedly dismissed his freshman roommate’s claim that he was a shy man who became belligerent after drinking by pointing to the squabble that one freshman roommate had with another, as if the normal animus between freshman roommates makes the observation of one invalid.

Finally, Blumenthal raised an incident from college that Kavanaugh had admitted he didn’t recall, only to have Kavanaugh insist he remembered all of it.

Let me ask you this. In a speech that you gave, you described, quote, falling out of the bus onto the front steps of the Yale Law School, at 4:45 AM.

Kavanaugh interrupted to try to prevent Blumenthal from finishing the quote.

The quote ends that you tried to piece things back together, end quote, to recall what happened that night. Meaning?

I know what happened. I know what happened that night.

The appellate court judge actually didn’t claim that he remembered it, just that he knows what happened.

Kavanaugh refuses to call Mark Judge

As a reminder, Ford alleges that Brett Kavanaugh tried to rape her in the presence of admitted dead drunk Mark Judge. Republicans refused to call Judge over and over.

Then Kavanaugh refused to answer questions about Judge’s own accounts of the period. In response to a question from Patrick Leahy about whether he was the drunk described as Bart O’Kavanaugh in Judge’s book, Kavanaugh refused to answer.

3rd Q: Are you Bart O’Kavanaugh.

Kav: not answering.

Kav finally says, “you’d have to ask him.” Which is the point.

Blumenthal noted to Kavanaugh that Judge’s statement was just six cursory and conclusory sentences signed by Judge’s lawyer, not a sworn statement.

So here’s what we saw yesterday: Christine Blasey Ford was unflappable and consistent. By comparison, Kavanaugh — at least in his statement — appeared to be precisely what he denied he was. His denials that he was a blackout drunk (and therefore that he assaulted Ford but didn’t remember it) were not credible and stopped well short of supporting his claim. And his own calendar, and the Republicans own prosecutor, identified a get-together that matches the time and attendees identified by Ford.

The GOP tried to set up a whitewash of this evidence. But instead, it failed, and they were left with screaming men.

And that won’t stop them from voting out his nomination.

Contra Kavanaugh, Redux

[NB: CHECK THE BYLINE.]

I wanted to put this post up earlier for the purposes of an open thread to accompany today’s political theater — I mean, the next Kavanaugh hearing.

Unfortunately I have been too upset to touch my keyboard. It was Rachel Mitchell’s grilling of witness Dr. Ford, treating her like a criminal instead of a victim, which flipped my switch.

Oh I am wholly enraged now. Do NOT fuck with me today.

I can see all the women in my multiple social media timelines equally upset and angry, swaying back and forth between crying and raging at the Republican assholes seated as Senate Judiciary Committee members.

Even now Grassley is interrupting the hearing’s flow to insert his own testimony of the timeline to questioning Dr. Ford, thereby reducing the amount of time the Democratic members have to question Dr. Ford. It’s a filibuster and he can’t yet explain why he didn’t ask for an FBI investigation.

Absolutely enraging.

The nomination of Brett Kavanaugh and the subsequent abuse of Dr. Ford has been a gross unforced error on the part of the Republican Party and the Trump administration. The questionable election of admitted sexual abuser Trump encouraged the largest number of women ever to run for public office. The 116th Congress will be very different because of this ongoing pink wave, first seen in the streets the day of the 2017 Women’s March.

This hearing and everything that led up to it will trigger an avalanche, a tsunami.

Get your rage on, let it out here. Burn it down and salt the earth, pave the way for that massive wave to come.

“In exchange for fire we women
Were made, another fire, greater
Much harder to fight.”

“We are women: in some things, we hesitate.
But in others, no one can surpass our courage.”
— Euripides

Gods help Kavanaugh when he appears later today. Gaia may slip her axis if he and the GOP senators fuck up any more badly than they have with women.

UPDATE: Kavanaugh’s performance today proved he does not have the appropriate judicial temperament appropriate to his current job let alone the Supreme Court.

CALL YOUR SENATORS NOW and tell them to vote NO on Kavanaugh.

Congressional switchboard: (202) 224-3121

If their D.C. line is busy or their mailbox is full, try contacting your senators’ local office numbers. Time is of the essence given the Republicans are meeting this evening to tally votes.

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.

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* 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.