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Brave For Speaking Out: Dr. Ford Trash Admiration Talk

Okay, the last post indicated a few thoughts as we are on the cusp, and maybe by the time I post this, other side of Kavanaugh confirmation. But Dr. Christine Blasey Ford was brave. Brave. Courageous, not just for herself, but all girls now and all to come. The Kavanaugh confirmation battle may be individually lost, but Dr. Ford set a standard of courage that should stand the test of time. A long time.

I said I would be back with our usual open thread sports Trash Talk, and so here we are.

In the colleges, there are several good games. Texas has already edged Oklahoma in the Red river shootout 48-45. LSU at Florida could be interesting. Jim White was out at a blues bar last night, will he be awake for this?? LSU up early and looking for two in a row in Gainesville. As crappy as Florida State has been so far this year, I smell an upset in Miami. My favorite game of the week, maybe year so far! is Kentucky at the Aggies of Texas A & M. The KY Wildcats are on the most improbably roll so far and are undefeated. But can they take the Aggies in College Station? Tall task! Honorable mention to Notre Dame at Virginia Tech and Utah at Stanford. Think the Domers and Trees win, but they play unpredictable opponents. The local joes, the ASU Sun Devils, are up at another of my old haunts, Folsom Field at University of Colorado. The Buffs are certainly favored, but the Devils may have something for them. Or not, we shall see!

Okay, in the Pros: The Pats already clocked the Colts and have significant time off until the next game. With Josh gordon and the return of Edelman, things are looking up there. Falcons at Steelers is interesting. Both good teams way underperforming this year so far. Green Bay at the Kittehs in Detroit is also interesting. The Pack has underperformed, and Aaron Rodgers been a bit hurt, but if they can come out of Motown with another win, they will be sitting pretty. The Lions desperately need another win to stay in the mix at all. In a battle of terrible teams, the Cardinals visit the 49ers. If Jimmy G were on the field, this would be a no brainer. Still may be. Vikes at Eagles has some gloss to it, but, again, both teams need to step up.

Formula One is at Suzuka in Japan. It is, yet again, raining there, and the circus has grown stale from lack of competition for Mercedes. It is really pretty pathetic.

On a positive note, MLB playoffs are underway, and the Red Sawx and Yankees are heating up with Boston taking a narrow win last night in game one in Fenway. Dodgers and Brew Crew seem to be rolling. October baseball is good baseball!

And, that is it. Music today is Brave by Sara Bareilles. She is really good. And Christine Blasey Ford was really brave.

Rachel Mitchell Is Not Very Good at Propaganda

The Senate Judiciary Republicans’ hand-picked sex prosecutor, Rachel Mitchell, has released a report that is generating the desired headlines from credulous journalists. It should take reporters no more work than to compare what Mitchell claims in her memo with what actually happened last Thursday to declare it a sham report. But since journalists are reporting it as an honest submission, I guess I’ll have to debunk it.

Mitchell’s report makes no mention of July 1

Start with the fact that Mitchell’s report makes no mention of the July 1 get-together that included all of the boys Christine Blasey Ford has claimed were at the event where she was assaulted. Here’s how Mitchell got Brett Kavanaugh to confirm that fact in the hearing.

MITCHELL: I would like you to look at the July 1st entry.

KAVANAUGH: Yes.

MITCHELL: The entry says — and I quote — “Go to Timmy’s (ph) for skis (ph) with Judge (ph), Tom (ph), P.J. (ph), Bernie (ph) and Squee (ph)”?

KAVANAUGH: Squee. That’s a nick…

MITCHELL: What does…

KAVANAUGH: … that’s a nickname.

MITCHELL: OK. To what does this refer, and to whom?

KAVANAUGH: So first, says “Tobin’s (ph) house workout”. So that’s one of the football workouts that we would have — that Dr. (inaudible) would run for guys on the football team during the summer.

So we would be there — that’s usually 6:00 to 8:00 or so, kind of — until near dark. And then it looks like we went over to Timmy’s — you want to know their last names too? I’m happy to do it.

MITCHELL: If you could just identify, is — is “Judge,” Mark Judge?

KAVANAUGH: It is.

MITCHELL: And is “P.J.,” P.J. Smith?

KAVANAUGH: It is.

So — all right. It’s Tim Gaudette (ph), Mark Judge, Tom Caine (ph), P.J. Smith, Bernie McCarthy (ph), Chris Garrett (ph).

MITCHELL: Chris Garrett is Squee?

As I have noted, Mitchell got Kavanaugh to confirm that Judge, PJ, and Kavanaugh — and other boys, as Ford has testified — were drinking at a suburban Maryland home on a weekday around the same time as Ford’s testimony said the event would have happened. This by itself refutes the key prong of Kavanaugh’s defense, that he was never at a party like the one Ford described, as Kavanaugh had claimed in response to Mitchell just minutes earlier.

MITCHELL: Dr. Ford described a small gathering of people at a suburban Maryland home in the summer of 1982. She said that Mark Judge, P.J. Smyth and Leland Ingham also were present, as well as an unknown male, and that the people were drinking to varying degrees. Were you ever at a gathering that fits that description?

KAVANAUGH: No, as I’ve said in my opening statements — opening statement.

He was at such a party, and the calendars he say validate his claims actually undermine his credibility.

But Mitchell makes no mention of the fact that, in her limited questioning of Kavanaugh, he had both provided possible corroboration to Ford and contradicted a statement he made minutes earlier.

The report makes no mention of Mitchell’s truncated questioning of Kavanaugh, at all

Of course Mitchell didn’t mention that, in her limited questioning of Kavanaugh, she obtained evidence from him that actually helps Ford and hurts Kavanaugh. That’s because she’s utterly silent about what happened in her questioning of Kavanaugh.

That’s important because it obscures both what did happen and what didn’t happen. The Republicans subjected Kavanaugh to just three rounds of questioning from Mitchell before Lindsey Graham took over in a rant almost as belligerent as the nominee’s. Over the course of those rounds, Kavanaugh showed visible discomfort — and a professed need to refer back to the definition of sexual behavior — after Mitchell provided that to him.

MITCHELL: I want you to take a moment to review the definition that’s before you of sexual behavior.

MITCHELL: Have you had a chance to review it?

KAVANAUGH: I have. I may refer back to it, if I can?

MITCHELL: Yes, please.

I’d like to point out two specific parts. Among the examples of sexual behavior, it includes rubbing or grinding your genitals against somebody, clothed or unclothed. And I would also point out that the definition applies whether or not the acts were sexually motivated or, for example, horseplay. Do you understand the definition I have given you?

KAVANAUGH: I do.

In round two, under Mitchell’s questioning, Kavanaugh offered up his first really troubling denial of drinking to excess, including a refusal to describe, in behavioral or even legal terms, what it means to drink too much.

MITCHELL: Dr. Ford has described you as being intoxicated at a party. Did you consume alcohol during your high school years?

KAVANAUGH: Yes, we drank beer. My friends and I, the boys and girls. Yes, we drank beer. I liked beer. Still like beer. We drank beer. The drinking age, as I noted, was 18, so the seniors were legal, senior year in high school, people were legal to drink, and we — yeah, we drank beer, and I said sometimes — sometimes probably had too many beers, and sometimes other people had too many beers.

MITCHELL: What do you…

KAVANAUGH: We drank beer. We liked beer.

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

KAVANAUGH: I don’t know. You know, we — whatever the chart says, a blood-alcohol chart.

MITCHELL: When you talked to Fox News the other night, you said that there were times in high school when people might have had too many beers on occasion. Does that include you?

KAVANAUGH: Sure.

MITCHELL: OK. Have you ever passed out from drinking?

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

Kavanaugh would go on to deny more specific questions about blacking out, but this initial response shows that Kavanaugh is too defensive about his drinking to be reliable.

Immediately after that second round of questioning, Kavanaugh took his first break.

In Mitchell’s third round, she got Kavanaugh to confirm that he had, in fact, been at a party the likes of which he said he had not been, though she didn’t call attention to that fact. Also in that round, she asked him about his interview with the committee about the alleged assaults.

MITCHELL: Since Dr. Ford’s allegation was made public, how many times have you been interviewed by the committee?

KAVANAUGH: It’s — it’s been a — three or four. I’m — I’m trying to remember now. It’s — it’s been several times. Each of these new things, absurd as they are, we’d get on the phone and kind of go through them.

MITCHELL: So have you submitted to interviews specifically about Dr. Ford’s allegation?

KAVANAUGH: Yes.

MITCHELL: And what about Deborah Ramirez’s allegation…

KAVANAUGH: Yes.

MITCHELL: … that you waved your penis in front of her?

KAVANAUGH: Yes.

MITCHELL: What about Julie Swetnick’s allegation that you repeatedly engaged in drugging and gang-raping, or allowing women to be gang-raped?

KAVANAUGH: Yes. Yes, I’ve been interviewed about it.

MITCHELL: Were your answers to my questions today consistent with the answers that you gave to the committee in these various interviews?

KAVANAUGH: Yes, ma’am.

MITCHELL: OK. I see I’m out of time. [my emphasis]

And that was it, Mitchell was yanked by Republicans before she asked any more questions that helped Ford and hurt Kavanaugh.

Mitchell held Ford’s statements to a much higher standard than she did Kavanaugh’s

Now compare that last bit — where Mitchell simply asked Kavanaugh to judge from himself whether his responses to her were consistent with just the interviews he had had with the committee — with how Mitchell asked Ford to review her statements and point out anything she would change.

MITCHELL: OK.

We’ve put before you — and I’m sure you have copies of them anyway — five pieces of information, and I wanted to go over them.

The first is a screenshot of a WhatsApp texting between you and somebody at the Washington Post. Do you have that in front of you?

FORD: Yes.

MITCHELL: The first two texts were sent by you on July 6th. Is that correct?

FORD: Correct.

MITCHELL: And then the last one sent by you was on July 10th?

FORD: Correct.

MITCHELL: OK. Are those three comments accurate?

FORD: I will read them.

(UNKNOWN): Take your time.

Ford did so, and corrected a number of things that were made, often in non-legal contexts, quite specifically. Her corrections of her non-legal statements were a key part of her credibility, because they showed her to be a careful person with attention to detail.

As a threshold matter, Mitchell assessing the consistency of Ford’s statements across five different kinds of statements: statements to her therapists, her spouse and friends, to the WaPo, before a polygraph, and to the committee. She’s only asking Kavanaugh to validate one kind of statement — his interviews with friendly staffers on the committee — with his responses to her questioning, and her questioning didn’t even touch on the topics of one of those interviews (that is, the other allegations). She specifically left out the Fox interview where (among other things), Kavanaugh defined “sexual assault” to be limited to vaginal intercourse, which is far different than the one Kavanaugh squirmed at when presented with it by Mitchell. That’s also where Kavanaugh claimed seniors were legal to drink, and everyone drank that much, and his friendship with girls extended just to those at sister Catholic schools, not Holton-Arms where Ford attended.

friendship, friendship with my fellow classmates and friendship with girls from the local all girls Catholic schools.

There was even an exchange where Kavanaugh might be taken to have claimed he never met Ford.

MACCALLUM: And to this date, no one has corroborated the story that she has told. As you accurately point out, but is there – so there’s no chance that there was something between the two of you that maybe she misunderstood the exchange that you had?

Nothing ever physical, you never met her, never kissed her, never touched her, nothing that you remember?

KAVANAUGH: Correct

Though earlier, he had said he may have met her, even though he claimed they did not travel the same circles.

KAVANAUGH: I may have met her, we did not travel in the same social circle, she was not a friend, not someone I knew—

And, of course, the Fox interview is where he claimed he was the last American virgin.

Particularly given the content of the hearing, where Ford testified that Squi was the guy through whom she met Kavanaugh, the judge’s claims that she didn’t travel in his same circles appear absolutely false, as do a number of other details Kavanaugh made public. But by narrowly.construing the validation she asked Kavanaugh to make (as compared to the broad comparison she demanded of Ford), Mitchell avoided making Kavanaugh swear that some of his obviously bullshit comments are true and in the process absolved herself of conducting the same assessment of whether Kavanaugh’s claims were consistent over time. And all that’s before you look at other claims — such as that he claimed the 65 women who signed a letter backing him knew him well, including those who went to Holton-Arms along with Ford, even though he claimed he was only friends with Catholic school girls. Or, his comments in the yearbook.

Kavanaugh’s statements would not survive the kind of apples to orange comparison Mitchell subjected Ford’s statements to

Mitchell’s failure to conduct the same scrutiny of Kavanaugh’s statements matters because that’s a key prong of her finding that Ford’s statements were not consistent, of which these two passages are representative of the problems with Mitchell’s claims.

Dr. Ford has not offered a consistent account of when the alleged assault happened.

  • In a July 6 text to the Washington Post, she said it happened in the “mid 1980s.” • In her July 30 letter to Senator Feinstein, she said it happened in the “early 80s.” • Her August 7 statement to the polygrapher said that it happened one “high school summer in early 80’s,” but she crossed out the word “early” for reasons she did not explain.
  • A September 16 Washington Post article reported that Dr. Ford said it happened in the “summer of 1982.”
  • Similarly, the September 16 article reported that notes from an individual therapy session in 2013 show her describing the assault as occurring in her “late teens.” But she told the Post and the Committee that she was 15 when the assault allegedly occurred. She has not turned over her therapy records for the Committee to review.
  • While it is common for victims to be uncertain about dates, Dr. Ford failed to explain how she was suddenly able to narrow the timeframe to a particular season and particular year.

[snip]

Her account of who was at the party has been inconsistent.

  • According to the Washington Post’s account of her therapy notes, there were four boys in the bedroom in which she was assaulted.
  • She told the Washington Post that the notes were erroneous because there were four boys at the party, but only two in the bedroom.
  • In her letter to Senator Feinstein, she said “me and 4 others” were present at the party.
  • In her testimony, she said there were four boys in addition to Leland Keyser and herself. She could not remember the name of the fourth boy, and no one has come forward.
  • Dr. Ford listed Patrick “PJ” Smyth as a “bystander” in her statement to the polygrapher and in her July 6 text to the Washington Post, although she testified that it was inaccurate to call him a bystander. She did not list Leland Keyser even though they are good friends. Leland Keyser’s presence should have been more memorable than PJ Smyth’s.

Note how central the WaPo is to this (and, though I won’t deal with it here, to her timeline of Ford’s disclosures). That is, Mitchell is holding Ford responsible for how a text submitted to a tipline gets developed into more specific timelines that appeared in the WaPo. And she may be holding Ford accountable to inaccuracies in the WaPo story and her therapist’s report, neither of which Ford had final control over.

Plus, Mitchell is absolute incorrect when she claims that Ford offered no explanation for how she narrowed in on the summer of 1982 for the assault — because, given that she didn’t drive, it must have been before she got her driver’s license.

MITCHELL: In your polygraph statement you said it was high school summer in ’80s, and you actually had written in and this is one of the corrections I referred to early and then you crossed that out.

Later in your interview with The Washington Post, you were more specific. You believed it occurred in the summer of 1982 and you said at the end of your sophomore year.

FORD: Yes.

MITCHELL: You said the same thing I believe in your prepared statement.

How were you able to narrow down the timeframe?

FORD: I can’t give the exact date. And I would like to be more helpful about the date, and if I knew when Mark Judge worked at the Potomac Safeway, then I would be able to be more helpful in that way.

So I’m just using memories of when I got my driver’s license. I was 15 at the time. And I — I did not drive home from that party or to that party, and once I did have my driver’s license, I liked to drive myself.

It’s remarkable Mitchell completed ignored this explanation, because mapping relationships in time via what friends drove him is something Kavanaugh did, too.

MITCHELL: And how did you know Patrick Smyth?

KAVANAUGH: Also ninth grade, Georgetown Prep. Went by P.J. then. He and I lived close to one another. Played football together, he was defensive tackle, I was the quarterback and wide receiver. We carpooled to school along with De Davis (ph) every year, the three of us for two years. I didn’t have a car, so one of the two of them would drive every day. And I’d be in the (ph), you know, they’d pick me up.

All of which is to say the key basis by which Mitchell declares Ford unreliable is a methodology she protects Kavanaugh from. Had she subjected him to the same treatment, he would have looked far more unreliable.

Both witnesses had short term memory loss

The same is true of Mitchell’s claim that Ford struggled to remember details of the recent past.

Dr. Ford has struggled to recall important recent events relating to her allegations, and her testimony regarding recent events raises further questions about her memory.

  • Dr. Ford struggled to remember her interactions with the Washington Post.

[snip]

  • Dr. Ford refused to provide any of her therapy notes to the Committee.
  • Dr. Ford’s explanation of why she disclosed her allegations the way she did raises questions.
  • Dr. Ford could not remember if she was being audio- or video-recorded when she took the polygraph. And she could not remember whether the polygraph occurred the same day as her grandmother’s funeral or the day after her grandmother’s funeral.

First, the second and third bullets are not memory issues at all — she treats the anxiety of coming forward, and the differing choices she made, as a memory issue rather than a stress one.

But as to the others, she holds Ford accountable for interactions with the WaPo, not all of which may be her doing. And she treats uncertainty about a foreign process, the polygraph, as a memory issue.

And Kavanaugh himself had troubles remembering something even more recent — how many times he had been interviewed by the committee, three or four.

MITCHELL: Since Dr. Ford’s allegation was made public, how many times have you been interviewed by the committee?

KAVANAUGH: It’s — it’s been a — three or four. I’m — I’m trying to remember now. It’s — it’s been several times. Each of these new things, absurd as they are, we’d get on the phone and kind of go through them.

There’s likely a good reason for this memory loss: the committee has only released transcripts from two conversations. So if there were four interviews, it suggests there may be two where he was massaging his story. Whatever the explanation, though, these interviews were just weeks and days before this hearing, and Kavanaugh couldn’t remember them.

In short, this report is an attack on Ford. It’s not a measure of a he said she said dispute. To assess such a dispute, Mitchell would have had to examine how badly Kavanaugh flubbed his responses to her.

And she wasn’t paid for that kind of scrutiny.

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.

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.

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.