Kavanaugh Accuser Wants F.B.I. Investigation Before Testifying

Attorneys for Christine Blasey Ford want the F.B.I. to investigate the charges she has made against Judge Kavanaugh before she testifies, but it's entirely unclear what such an investigation would accomplish.

The attorneys for Christine Blasey Ford, the woman who has accused Judge Brett Kavanaugh of having sexually assaulted her at a Suburban Maryland party more than thirty years, are saying that their client wants an investigation by the Federal Bureau of Investigation before she would sit down before the Senate Judiciary Committee:

WASHINGTON — The woman who has accused President Trump’s Supreme Court nominee of sexual assault all but ruled out appearing at an extraordinary Senate hearing scheduled for next week to hear her allegations, insisting on Tuesday that the F.B.I. investigate first.

Speaking through lawyers, Christine Blasey Ford said she would cooperate with the Senate Judiciary Committee and left open the possibility of testifying later about her allegations against Judge Brett M. Kavanaugh. But echoing Senate Democrats, she said an investigation should be “the first step” before she is put “on national television to relive this traumatic and harrowing incident.”

Republicans signaled Tuesday night that they would not negotiate an alternative date and would go ahead with the hearing without her or declare it unnecessary if she refuses to appear, then possibly move to a vote. They have repeatedly stressed that Monday would be Dr. Blasey’s opportunity to testify, either privately or publicly, and that they planned to move forward with the confirmation process afterward.

The apparent standoff was yet another turn in a high-stakes drama over the president’s second Supreme Court nominee that began Thursday, when the top Democrat on the Judiciary Committee revealed that she had referred the sexual assault allegations to federal investigators. Dr. Blasey, a research psychologist in Northern California, has accused Judge Kavanaugh of sexually assaulting her more than 30 years ago when they were teenagers at a boozy high school party, a charge that he has categorically denied.

In a letter sent to the committee on Tuesday evening, Dr. Blasey’s lawyers charged that some senators have already “made up their minds,” but she did not explicitly reject appearing before them. In an appearance on CNN, however, one of the lawyers, Lisa J. Banks, seemed to suggest that Dr. Blasey would not show up on Monday.

“She’s not prepared to talk with them at a hearing on Monday,” Ms. Banks said. Even if Republicans agreed to an F.B.I. investigation, it would take time to complete, she added. “No legitimate investigation is going to happen between now and Monday.”

Democratic leaders quickly endorsed Dr. Blasey’s position, but her resistance to coming to the committee on Monday seemed to harden the resolve of Republicans who said they gave her a chance to make her case.

“Republicans extended a hand in good faith,” said Senator Bob Corker of Tennessee, one of the Republicans who insisted on postponing a vote until she could be heard. “If we don’t hear from both sides on Monday, let’s vote.”

Senator Charles E. Grassley, Republican of Iowa and the Judiciary Committee chairman, said he would welcome Dr. Blasey for a staff-led interview or a private hearing, if she preferred, but made clear he was sticking with the schedule for Monday.

“Dr. Ford’s testimony would reflect her personal knowledge and memory of events,” he said in a statement. “Nothing the F.B.I. or any other investigator does would have any bearing on what Dr. Ford tells the committee, so there is no reason for any further delay.”

Mr. Trump joined other Republicans in rejecting an F.B.I. investigation of the long-ago episode even before Dr. Blasey’s letter was sent on Tuesday evening. The bureau “said that they really don’t do that, that’s not what they do,” Mr. Trump said during a news conference. “And now they have done supposedly six background checks over the years as Judge Kavanaugh has gone beautifully up the ladder.”

In the letter to the Judiciary Committee, Dr. Blasey’s lawyers said that she has been the target of “vicious harassment and even death threats” since her name was made public on Sunday in an interview published in The Washington Post. Her email has been hacked, she has been impersonated online and she and her family have been forced to relocate out of their home, according to the lawyers, Ms. Banks and her partner, Debra S. Katz.

“While Dr. Ford’s life was being turned upside down, you and your staff scheduled a public hearing for her to testify at the same table as Judge Kavanaugh in front of two dozen U.S. Senators on national television to relive this traumatic and harrowing incident,” the lawyers wrote to Mr. Grassley. The hearing “would include interrogation by senators who appear to have made up their minds that she is ‘mistaken’ and ‘mixed up.'”

Dr. Blasey, who is sometimes referred to by her married name, Ford, “wants to cooperate with the committee and with law enforcement officials” but believes that a “full investigation” by the F.B.I. would be necessary to form a nonpartisan assessment before any hearing, the lawyers wrote.

Both Dr. Blasey, 51, and Judge Kavanaugh, 53, had said on Monday morning that they were willing to come before the committee. In response, Mr. Grassley postponed a vote on the judge’s confirmation and scheduled the hearing for next week. An aide to Mr. Grassley said that the committee never intended to seat the two witnesses together at one table or even on one panel.

Democrats and Republicans spent much of Tuesday arguing over the scope and shape of what such a hearing would entail. Mr. Grassley told the radio host Hugh Hewitt that Judge Kavanaugh and Dr. Blasey would be the only witnesses, prompting pushback from top Democrats.

Another potential witness, Mark Judge, a friend of Judge Kavanaugh’s who Dr. Blasey said was in the room when the assault occurred, told the Judiciary Committee he does not remember it. “I never saw Brett act in the manner Dr. Ford describes,” he said in a statement sent by his lawyers, adding that “I do not wish to speak publicly” about the matter.

More from The Washington Post:

The woman who has accused Brett M. Kavanaugh of sexual assault decades ago wants the FBI to investigate her allegation before she testifies before the Senate Judiciary Committee — a demand that came as President Trump and Senate Republicans increasingly rallied to the defense of the embattled Supreme Court nominee.

“A full investigation by law enforcement officials will ensure that the crucial facts and witnesses in this matter are assessed in a non-partisan manner, and that the committee is fully informed before conducting any hearing or making any decisions,” lawyers for the woman, Christine Blasey Ford, said in a letter to the panel late Tuesday.

The committee had invited Kavanaugh and Ford to testify at a public hearing Monday, but Ford’s response raises questions about whether the GOP will proceed with the session and ultimately the vote on Kavanaugh, who was nominated in July to replace the retired Justice Anthony M. Kennedy. The two-page letter does not explicitly say she will not attend if there is no FBI probe.

Many Republican officials maintained Tuesday that such a hearing would be Kavanaugh’s best chance at preserving his nomination to the high court, since it would give the judge — who seems determined to fight the allegation — an opportunity to respond to the claims. But Democrats, like Ford, argued that the scheduled Monday session should be delayed until the FBI further investigates her allegation.

The letter from Ford’s lawyers described death threats and harassment since The Washington Post published her account Sunday.

“In the 36 hours since her name became public, Dr. Ford has received a stunning amount of support from her community and from fellow citizens across our country. At the same time, however, her worst fears have materialized,” the letter said. “She has been the target of vicious harassment and even death threats. As a result of these kind of threats, her family was forced to relocate out of their home. Her email has been hacked, and she has been impersonated online.”

The letter also refers to Ford testifying ”at the same table” as Kavanaugh, although a spokesman for Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Charles E. Grassley (R-Iowa) said it was never the plan, nor was it conveyed to Ford and her attorneys, to have them testify together.

In a statement late Tuesday night, Grassley disputed that the FBI would need to investigate before Ford appeared before the committee and said: ”The invitation for Monday still stands.”

“Dr. Ford’s testimony would reflect her personal knowledge and memory of events,” Grassley said. “Nothing the FBI or any other investigator does would have any bearing on what Dr. Ford tells the committee, so there is no reason for any further delay.”

The FBI declined to comment Tuesday after the letter from Ford’s lawyers was made public. The Justice Department said previously that the FBI updated Kavanaugh’s background-check file to include the allegation and suggested that that is the extent of what the agency plans to do.

Sen. Dianne Feinstein (Calif.), the top Democrat on the Judiciary Committee, urged Republicans to delay Monday’s hearing after Ford’s lawyers sent their response. The high-stakes hearing was set without consultation with Ford, although Grassley’s office has said his staff offered Ford multiple dates for a potential hearing.

“I agree with her 100 percent that the rushed process to hold a hearing on Monday has been unfair and is reminiscent of the treatment of Anita Hill,” Feinstein said, referring to the woman who testified in 1991 that now-Justice Clarence Thomas had sexually harassed her. “I also agree that we need the facts before senators — not staff or lawyers — speak to witnesses.”

Earlier, Democrats protested Republicans’ decision to limit the witnesses at Monday’s hearing to just Ford and Kavanaugh, saying it would turn the testimony into a “he said, she said” spectacle.

At a White House news conference Tuesday afternoon, Trump encouraged the hearing to proceed so Ford can ”state her case,” but he predicted that the public setting would ultimately exonerate Kavanaugh and expressed sympathy for his nominee.

“I feel so badly for him that he’s going through this,” Trump said. ”. . . This is not a man that deserves this.”

He called Kavanaugh “a great gentleman” and lamented that his wife and daughters are experiencing the public airing of accusations that Trump said Feinstein should have brought up earlier in his confirmation process. Feinstein has said she kept the accusation confidential at Ford’s request.

Though Kavanaugh’s confirmation prospects looked shaky earlier this week after Ford’s allegations became public, senior Republicans on Tuesday were increasingly determined to press forward with his nomination.

“All I can say is that we’re bringing this to a close,” said Sen. Lindsey O. Graham (R-S.C.). “They’ve had tons of time to do this. This has been a drive-by shooting when it comes to Kavanaugh. . . . I’ll listen to the lady, but we’re going to bring this to a close.”

Sen. Rob Portman (R-Ohio), a close Kavanaugh friend who introduced him at his confirmation hearings this month, said, ”Obviously, the process was very unfair.” He added: ”I’m not blaming [Ford], I’m blaming the Democrats who misused this process.”

And Sen. John Cornyn (Tex.), the No. 2 Republican in the Senate, sharply questioned Ford’s credibility. Speaking to reporters, Cornyn said he was concerned by “gaps” in the account of Ford, who told The Washington Post that, at a house party in the early 1980s when the two were in high school, Kavanaugh drunkenly pinned her to a bed, groped her and put his hand over her mouth to stifle her screams.

“The problem is, Dr. Ford can’t remember when it was, where it was or how it came to be,” Cornyn told reporters at the Capitol.

All of this came at the end of the day when Senators, most White House spokespersons, and Judge Kavanaugh spent most of the day behind closed doors. At the White House, staffers are already working with Kavanaugh on preparation for the anticipated hearings on Monday regarding Dr. Blasey Ford’s charges against Judge Kavanaugh. On Capitol Hill, meanwhile, Senators and staffers were working in preparation of the hearings and, for the better part of the day attempting to work together with the attorneys for Dr. Blasey Ford to allow Monday’s planned hearing before the Judiciary Committee to go forward. For the better part of the day, Committee Chairman Chuck Grassley was telling reporters that his efforts to reach out to the attorneys had not yet been successful. It wasn’t until later in the day, when Blasey Ford’s lawyers had released the letter embedded below and appeared on CNN yesterday evening and stated that her client apparently would not testify before the Committee on Monday notwithstanding the fact that this same attorney had said Monday morning that her client was ready, willing, and able to testify before the committee . Prior to this, every Democrat on the Judiciary Committee, and several crucial Republicans who have the power to defeat or delay the nomination had responded to the revelation of Blasey Ford’s identity with calls for a hearing on the charges before the Committee. Now it seems fair to say that Blasey Ford’s attorneys are attempting to move the goalposts by delaying any potential hearing for weeks at least while the F.B.I. conducts an investigation that most likely would not uncover anything at all.

I can understand why Dr. Blasey Ford may be reluctant to come forward for a hearing that at least has the appearance of being a rushed, pro forma, hearing that would consist of little more than her and Judge Kavanaugh testifying regarding these allegations. I also understand why her attorneys would want to take a position that best protects their client’s interest not only with regard to her legal rights but also her reputation, her well-being, and her ability to recover from what, if she is to be believed, is an assault that left profound scars on her psyche. One need only look at the last time this same Committee, albeit largely with different members, was dealing with sexual harassment allegations against a Supreme Court nominee. I’m referring, of course, to Anita Hill’s charges against Clarence Thomas during the consideration of his nomination in 1991 and the manner in which she was treated by both Republican and Democratic members of the Committee. The prospect of being treated in a similar manner on Monday is obviously not something that anyone would be looking forward to, or necessarily want to willingly participate in.

All that being said, I’m skeptical of the demand now being made for an investigation by the F.B.I. of an incident that occurred more than thirty years ago when it seems clear that there are few avenues that could possibly be investigated that would give the committee any additional information. In her statements to The Washington Post on Sunday, Dr. Blasey Ford states that she can’t recall the exact date that the attack occurred other than to say that it happened at a party sometime in the summer of 1982. She also said that she didn’t know where the attack occurred other than to say that it happened somewhere in the Suburban Maryland area in one of the many suburbs near Washington, D.C. Although she doesn’t say so, it doesn’t appear that she was personally acquainted with many of the people at the party, although she must have known at least some of them given the fact that she was too young at the time to have driven herself there. While the fact that she doesn’t remember these details does not mean that the attack did not occur, it does raise the question of what exactly the F.B.I. or anyone else can investigate beyond speaking to the three people she says were in the room when this happened, Judge Kavanaugh, the accuser herself, and Mark Judge, a friend of Kavanaugh’s who has already said he doesn’t remember any incident and isn’t willing to testify before the committee. Judge Kavanaugh, meanwhile, denies the incident ever took place. Finally, it’s worth mentioning that Judge Kavanaugh has been the subject of several F.B.I. background checks over the past two decades due to the positions he has held in government. Presumably, this would have included conversations with people who knew him when he was a student at Georgetown Prep. If one of those people knew about this then one would think some hint of it would have come out at some point during those investigations. Taking all of this into account, I am not at all certain exactly what there is for the F.B.I. to investigate unless there are people out there who remember some unnamed party at an unidentified house somewhere in Suburban Maryland thirty-six years ago. Absent blindly going through the yearbooks of basically every High School, public and private, in the D.C. area from the relevant time period and randomly reaching out to people to see if they remember an unspecified party at an unspecified location on an unspecified date I’m not at all sure what exactly the Bureau can do in this situation that would be productive or which would shed any more light on what is obviously a disputed set of facts.

As things stand now, Monday’s hearing is still on the docket and the Committee intends to go forward at that time. If Blasey Ford doesn’t show up, though, or if she declines to cooperate unless her request for an F.B.I. investigation is honored, I’m not sure what the Committee can do. Chairman Chuck Grassley is saying that he sees no need for such an investigation and that the Committee remains ready to hear from Dr. Blasey Ford on Monday, whether in public or in private, but that he sees no need for an F.B.I. investigation. Blasey Ford’s demands also don’t seem to be going over well with many of the Republicans who had initially called for a hearing after Blasey Ford came forward. Tennessee Senator Bob Corker, for example, said that if Blasey Ford isn’t willing to testify before the committee then the committee and the Senate should move forward with a vote both in the Committee and, after that, the full Senate. Additionally, both Senators Lisa Murkowski and Susan Collins have said that the Monday hearing should go forward, although Collins has suggested changing the format of the hearings somewhat. Senator Lindsey Graham, who also called for a hearing after the charges became public, is now saying that the committee should move forward if Blasey Ford declines to testify. Most importantly, Arizona Senator Jeff Flake, who sits on the Judiciary Committee and previously said that he would not vote for the nomination without a further committee investigation of the charges, has said that he would most likely vote to approve the nomination in committee if Blasey Ford declines to appear before the committee as scheduled.

Where this goes from here is unclear. This has been a fast-moving story as it is, so it’s entirely possible that there could be more developments as the days unfold between now and Monday. As things stand, I tend to believe Dr. Blasey Ford. Not only is it unlikely that a woman would make up an allegation like this, but we already know that she had told her husband and therapist about this incident six years ago, long before Judge Kavanaugh was nominated to the Supreme Court. It’s also apparent that, at least initially, she did not wish to come forward. All that being said, if she isn’t willing to come forward and tell her story in public and under oath then I am not sure what else there is the committee can or should do other than go forward with the normal process that would still likely result in Kavanaugh’s confirmation.

Here’s the letter from Dr. Blasey Ford’s attorney:

Christine Blasey Ford Lette… by on Scribd

And the letter from Mark Judge’s attorney:

Mark Judge Letter To Judici… by on Scribd

__________________

1 And yes, I am aware that the charges against Kavanaugh, if true, amount to sexual assault and perhaps even attempted rape and are therefore far more serious than the charges leveled against Justice Clarence Thomas by Anita Hill in 1991.

FILED UNDER: Congress, Donald Trump, Law and the Courts, Politicians, Supreme Court, US Politics, , , ,
Doug Mataconis
About Doug Mataconis
Doug holds a B.A. in Political Science from Rutgers University and J.D. from George Mason University School of Law. He joined the staff of OTB in May 2010. Before joining OTB, he wrote at Below The BeltwayThe Liberty Papers, and United Liberty Follow Doug on Twitter | Facebook

Comments

  1. Joe says:

    Her request is entirely reasonable, but she is also entirely over playing her hand. If she sticks to this position, Cavanaugh will be confirmed.

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  2. MarkedMan says:

    The investigation is absolutely justified. As much as Republicans want to make this about a “drunken prank of a 17 year old” that was misinterpreted, Kavanaugh himself has shifted the debate. He has said she is lying. Not that he doesn’t recall and can’t imagine himself ever doing something like this. But that it categorically never happened. And the other guy involved, his friend Mark Judge, has also categorically denied it ever happened (despite writing an entire book about being a blackout drunk in high school, and, as an adult, an article about how women sometimes only pretend to say no and require a strong and passionate man to be assertive.). Bottom line, if it happened, Kavanaugh and Judge are lying and smearing this woman in the process. Every effort should be made to get to the truth.

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  3. Kari Q says:

    Actually, I think it is entirely clear what an FBI investigation would achieve: force Kavanaugh to answer questions under oath to law enforcement, to FBI investigators will have the ability to respond with follow up questions without being interrupted by someone whose goal is protecting the nomination, and where there might be actual consequences if he is caught in a lie.

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  4. At a minimum, the Senate should conduct an investigation. Just having the two of them testify is unlikely to reveal much truth, unfortunately. It will boil down to who seems more credible and the bottom line is that partisan filters will dictate most people’s assessments.

    I get the political clock, but this a lifetime appointment.

    If there remain real questions, then the nomination should be withdrawn and Trump can appoint another conservative before the elections

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  5. Modulo Myself says:

    @MarkedMan:

    In the world of people who aren’t total sociopaths, yes. But the GOP doesn’t need to follow the rules. The people upset about these allegations love their wet President. Maybe they’re upset that there’s only one allegation. Who knows? Regardless, Dr. Ford had the guts to put her name to this. She should follow through. It’s going to be awful, an absolute atrocity. But she should do it.

  6. CSK says:

    According to Gabriel Sherman at Vanity Fair, Ivanka is urging Daddy to dump Kavanaugh on the grounds that if he doesn’t, he’ll lose more of the women’s vote.

  7. @Kari Q:

    Kavanaugh will be under oath at the hearing on Monday.

  8. Stormy Dragon says:

    Why would the FBI investigate it? Sexual assault isn’t a federal crime. This would be a matter for state/local police to investigate.

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  9. @Steven L. Taylor:

    I don’t necessarily disagree but given the passage of time and the dearth of details, I’m not sure what an investigation would uncover that we don’t already know.

  10. drj says:

    One thing that an FBI investigation would do, is to establish beyond doubt that Blasey Ford told other people about Kavanaugh long before he was in the picture as a SC judge.

    In other words, to enhance her credibility as a witness.

    Of course, this isn’t what the Committee wants. The Comittee (or at least the GOP part of it) wants to undermine Blasey Ford and destroy her reputation.

    Monday’s hearing is setting Blasey Ford up to be damaged by a bunch of misogynistic old men. Obviously, her lawyer doesn’t particularly relish that prospect.

    If the Committee cared the least bit about the truth, they wouldn’t have rushed Kavanaugh’s nomination through. What they are engaged in now is nothing but damage control so that they are able to say: “We’ve looked into it, but there was nothing there.”

  11. @MarkedMan:

    Given that Blasey Ford appears to be the only witness other than Kavanaugh and Judge, how do you prove who is lying?

  12. Kari Q says:

    @Doug Mataconis:

    Yes, I know. But he will be heard by a committee chaired by a man determined to protect the nominee, not by someone interested in establishing the truth.

    Edited to add: I also believe that Kavanaugh could lie to Grassley and Hatch and they wouldn’t care as long as it furthers the goal of confirming the nomination. There would be no consequences if he said he didn’t drink in high school even though his yearbook suggests he drank quite a lot, as one example.

  13. MBunge says:

    As things stand, I tend to believe Dr. Blasey Ford.

    She can’t say when it happened. She can’t say where it happened. She apparently can’t say how she got to or from the incident. Her therapist’s notes say she originally said it was four guys and now she says it was just two. It’s not even clear exactly when she named Kavanaugh as her supposed attacker. And Mataconis can’t think of a reason why a Democrat and anti-Trump activist might make up something like this?

    I don’t know if this woman is telling the truth or not but it’s embarrassing to write a post like this and be painfully oblivious to what just happened. This charge was leaked hoping that Republicans would refuse to hear it, giving red state Dems an excuse to vote against Kavanaugh and maybe give a few Trump-hating Republicans a beltway-approved rationale to do the same. Kavanaugh and Trump called their bluff and now Democrats are left with egg on their face.

    Mike

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  14. Stormy Dragon says:

    @Doug Mataconis:

    When you say Ford is lying, what specifically are you accusing her of:

    1. Years ago she lied to her therapist about being assaulted at a party in case she would someday need to blackmail a local high schooler.

    2. She was telling the truth about the assault then, and is now deliberately letting the actual perpetrator off the hook just to score political points.

    3. She thinks she is telling the truth, but is misidentifying the perpetrator?

  15. JKB says:

    The “FBI investigation” is an overreach in that the FBI has no jurisdiction in what, if a complaint had been filed, is a state/local matter, if it was within the statute of limitations. Now, a Senate committee investigation could be conducted, which is is scheduled for Monday with all known parties given the opportunity to offer testimony.

    This refusal to testify has left Corker and Flake, along with Murkowski and Collins, swinging in the wind. And they do not appear to be willing to be left hanging.

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  16. MBunge says:

    One thing that an FBI investigation would do, is to establish beyond doubt that Blasey Ford told other people about Kavanaugh long before he was in the picture as a SC judge.

    Uh, she’s not dead, you know. There’s nothing stopping he from saying “I told this to Persons X, Y, and Z.” Those people could then be called to testify in support of her claim. Your comment literally makes no sense.

    Mike

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  17. Kari Q says:

    @JKB:

    The FBI does background investigations of nominees for positions that require approval from the Senate. They have been doing this since at least the Eisenhower administration. No one seemed to think that was a bad thing till now.

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  18. @Stormy Dragon:

    I did not say Ford is lying.

  19. @Doug Mataconis: At a minimum there is an alleged eye witness. I know in the press he has said he doesn’t remember anything. But you and I both know one can say things in the press but that those things often change under oath.

    There are enough threads that some amount of investigation seems warranted, if the Trump administration wants Kavanaugh specifically on the Court. I still think that the bottom line is that Trump will get the seat unless this drags out and the Senate goes Democratic.

  20. @Stormy Dragon:

    The FBI conducts the background checks for Presidential nominees. This would be part of that process.

  21. @MBunge:

    There’s nothing stopping he from saying “I told this to Persons X, Y, and Z.” Those people could then be called to testify in support of her claim. Your comment literally makes no sense.

    Indeed. I would think this would be part of an investigation.

  22. @JKB:

    The argument that the FBI does not have jurisdiction is without merit and false. The FBI conducts background investigations for Presidential appointees such as Kavanaugh. This would involve reopening the investigation of Judge Kavanaugh in light of these new allegations.

  23. @Steven L. Taylor:

    Perhaps, but quite honestly I’m not sure that the FBI is going find anything of value here.

    Of course, a lot of this mess could have been avoided had this been made public months ago.

  24. MarkedMan says:

    There seems to some confusion here (I think that is a first for the internet!). The FBI absolutely has jurisdiction in this. Here is something I just posted on another thread:

    From the Congressional Research Services (a government agency whose job it is to research and explain issues to Congressmen at their request) white paper on the Supreme Court nomination process:

    In addition to the committee’s own investigation of the nominee, the FBI also investigates the nominee and provides the committee with confidential reports related to its investigation

    The FBI has already done an investigation of Kavanaugh. Trump has instructed them that they are not to reopen their investigation but rather consider it closed since they have already submitted their report.

  25. Kathy says:

    It’s a tall order to investigate such an old incident, especially given the lack of details. If one is done, it will likely add little or nothing to what’s known already.

    Still, no one can be sure of that. So there should be one. Or, to make things easier for everyone, Kavanaugh could withdraw himself from consideration (I know, it ain’t gonna happen in a million years).

  26. MarkedMan says:

    There are some people in the thread above that don’t seem to understand what the Republicans are proposing. The Republicans are specifically ruling out hearing from anyone else, or indeed, doing any investigation whatsoever. They are proposing a scenario in which the only possible outcome is “he said / she said”. Ford and the Dems are crying foul, as well they should.

    And to answer Doug’s specific point about what we can find out other than “he said / she said” about a 36 year old incident: probably not much. But there is another incident that occurred just last week: Kavanaugh called her a liar. He has explicitly made it about her honesty and his own. In fact, he is basically saying that we should trust his integrity so much he should be on the Supreme Court. An investigation can reveal quite a bit about his honesty about this and other matters. Something pretty important for a Supreme Court Justice.

    The investigation would involve experienced agents interviewing both of them and others with the express purpose of finding the truth, not a bunch of geriatric and inept Senators bloviating and thinking themselves clever (this applies to all the Senators. See Preet Bahara for what real prosecutors think of Senator’s ability to question a witness.)

    I think Kavanaugh’s story will fall apart. Think about what he did in front of Orrin Hatch, a Senator so predisposed to Kavanaugh he practically carries him around in a baby sling on his chest. Kavanaugh categorically denied he was ever at the party. You know, the party she has never described in any detail. If he doesn’t remember her how can he be sure he was not at the party, you know, the one where it didn’t happen?

  27. alkali says:

    Taking all of this into account, I am not at all certain exactly what there is for the F.B.I. to investigate unless there are people out there who remember some unnamed party at an unidentified house somewhere in Suburban Maryland thirty-six years ago.

    Blasey Ford and Kavanaugh went to two single-sex prep schools (Holton and Georgetown Prep) that are near each other, and many families at those schools are members of the same country club, which is presumably why she recognized Kavanaugh and his friend Mark Judge. One poster on Twitter has already remarked that this incident was discussed at Holton, although she has since deleted the post. Given the passage of time it is unlikely that an investigation will turn up anything genuinely dispositive, but it doesn’t seem like a total shot in the dark.

  28. JKB says:

    @Doug Mataconis:

    The FBI doesn’t open investigations into things they discover during a background check. They refer it to the proper criminal investigators is they find evidence of a crime, even a federal crime that would be investigated by the FBI.

    If they discovered an accusation like this, they would make inquiries to see if the proper authorities had conducted an investigation. And include all that was learned in the background file.

    In this case, this accusation is very public. And those likely to have any information are either local to the DC area or still have friend/family connections to the area. Not to mention many are well placed in DC society and official Washington. As such a double digit number of women contemporaries of Kavanaugh who know him have made a statement that the accusations are completely out of character for him.

    Since there is no local jurisdiction named, the question would be whether the Maryland State Police would investigate. Of course, there is no prospect of prosecution regardless of the outcome due to the statute of limitations.

  29. charon says:

    @JKB:

    Of course, there is no prospect of prosecution regardless of the outcome due to the statute of limitations.

    There is no statute of limitations on sex crimes in Maryland.

  30. @charon:

    I am not sure this is the case, but let’s assume it is.

    Was that the case in 1982?

    If the law was changed since then, it’s unlikely that it can be applied ex-post facto to crimes that allegedly occurred prior to the enactment of the new SoL.

  31. @JKB:

    You are completely misunderstanding the role the FBI would play here. They would not be conducting a criminal investigation, they would be reopening the background check in light of this new information.

  32. Andre Kenji de Sousa says:

    To me part of the problem is that Kavanaugh excuses are pretty lame. He is supposed to be a top jurist, and I can’t imagine even the crappiest lawyer in the world making these excuses that he is doing. Not even the crappiest ambulance chaser or jailhouse lawyer making these excuses. Geez, not even people that have no training on law.

  33. Kari Q says:

    @JKB:

    The background check is intended to discover any possible disqualifying information. An alleged crime is disqualifying. The FBI should investigate the allegation and determine if there is information to validate the accusation. They should do that here.

  34. Michael Reynolds says:

    Dr. Blasey Ford’s lawyer is an idiot. This is an unforced error as anyone with the slightest grasp of political realities could have told her.

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  35. Franklin says:

    @MBunge:

    Her therapist’s notes say she originally said it was four guys and now she says it was just two.

    That discrepancy was already explained when she made her name public, but it looks like you don’t know much about the case. There’s absolutely no doubt that *something* happened between her, Kavanaugh, and Judge, but we will never know what the severity was. And I am uncomfortable with him being punished for something that I tend to believe he and Judge probably don’t remember since they were “stumbling drunk” in her own words, and Judge himself said they were black-out drinkers. However, if Kavanaugh is adamant that nothing ever happened and is saying she is lying, that makes him pretty unfit and he can certainly be punished for that.

    As for the Democrats’ playing politics with it, boo hoo! Why don’t you cry over it with Merrick Garland?

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  36. MarkedMan says:

    @charon:

    There is no statute of limitations on sex crimes in Maryland.

    I was surprised to learn this last week, but it makes me wonder if this is why Kavanaugh is being so adamant that Ford is lying.

    But my gut tells me that is not the case. I think Kavanaugh is simply one of those frat-boy mentality types who believe that women who make complaints are just ho’s and bitches. After all, the other guy who was supposedly with him and seems to remain on at least friendly terms with Kavanaugh to his day, Mark Judge, turns out to be a pervy 55 year old man who takes surreptitious pictures of 20 year old buxom women in shorts on the metro and then posts them on his Instagram feed. And writes, as an adult, that some women who are saying “no” are really on the fence and want a strong assertive man to give in to his wild passion and sweep them away. And much more close to home we have Kavanaugh’s self professed mentor, someone who he worked for and with for years, Judge Alex Kozinski, has resigned after being accused by 15 women in his office that he had sexually harassed them, including touching and fondling them and also calling them over to his desk and showing them porn, over the course of years. Kavanaugh, of course, says he was completely unaware of this.

    The silence of the women who have worked with him is becoming more and more interesting. They got 65 of the women from his high school to say they think he was a fine young man. Where are the 65 women who work with him over the past decade that are willing to vouch for his character?

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  37. Eric Florack says:

    @MarkedMan: you apparently haven’t heard as regards the letters that have been signed backing Kavanaugh? By women who went to school with him at work with him and so on? Maybe you should watch something besides MSNBC once in awhile

  38. MarkedMan says:

    @Michael Reynolds: Michael, what are you referring to wrt and “unforced error”?

  39. Franklin says:

    @Eric Florack: I have little doubt that a combination of sobriety and maturity makes Kavanaugh a fine gentleman indeed. But that doesn’t give me a clue what he did as a stumbling drunk in high school.

  40. MarkedMan says:

    @Eric Florack: Okay, I’m going to break my rule again. I literally called out the letter signed by sixty-five high school classmates in the sentence before the one you referenced.

  41. Michael Reynolds. says:

    @MarkedMan:
    Pushing for an FBI investigation.

  42. Just nutha ignint cracker says:

    “Republicans extended a hand in good faith,” said Senator Bob Corker of Tennessee,”

    He’s such a card, that one.

  43. Just nutha ignint cracker says:

    @Doug Mataconis: And the criminal penalty for lying to Congress and the likelihood that Congress would pursue such a charge simply for the sake of justice and “the rule of law” is…?

  44. Just nutha ignint cracker says:

    “If the Committee cared the least bit about the truth,”

    This was as funny as Corker’s comment. Laughter is the best medicine, according to Reader’s Digest, so I’m doing well healthwise today. Thanks!

  45. KM says:

    @Eric Florack:
    No women went to school with him since he went to an ALL-MALE school! At best, they rode the bus with him or hung out after school and really, who hung out with 65 people of the opposite sex on a regular basis? Maybe, MAYBE at a party or mixer but there’s no damn way 65 young women knew him well enough to make that claim. Did you have 65 good friends in high school – hell, do you even have 65 friends NOW?

    After all, if it were true, they’d be repeating it out loud since we already have their names. So….. where are these ladies who swear he’s a “nice guy”?

  46. JKB says:

    @Doug Mataconis:

    The FBI did reopen the background check and added the letter to the file. They probably did yet another inquiry into the Maryland investigations records for matching complaints. They would likely have interviewed the witness if he hadn’t responded publicly and directly via letter to the committee.

    As I related above, there is no other information to pursue. The proper investigatory body, the Senate committee, has invited Ford and Kavanaugh to give testimony related to the allegations.

  47. @JKB:

    No, they did not reopen the background investigation. Reopening the background investigation would include at the very least interviewing Ford, Kavanaugh, and Judge along with the four people that Ford told The Washington Post who she knew were at the party in question.

  48. wr says:

    @JKB: “The “FBI investigation” is an overreach in that the FBI has no jurisdiction in what, if a complaint had been filed, is a state/local matter, if it was within the statute of limitations.”

    The FBI is routinely tasked to background investigations on nominees. Do you have to force yourself not to know anything before you post, or are you just pig ignorant in general?

  49. Franklin says:

    @TM01:

    Out of curiosity tho, are we going to apply this 30 year old standard to people like Cory Booker, who admitted that he sexually assaulted someone (grabbed a breast after being pushed away) back when he was 15?

    The difference many are pointing out is that Cory Booker didn’t lie about it.

  50. Eric Florack says:

    Whoever wins the Democratic nomination for president in 2020, sexually abused me 45 years ago.

    Just so you know this going in

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  51. An Interested Party says:

    Whoever wins the Democratic nomination for president in 2020, sexually abused me 45 years ago.

    One would hope that whoever that is would have had far better taste than to ever touch you…

  52. Eric Florack says:

    @An Interested Party: possibly, but then the charges been made and must be investigated, regardless of the political consequences… Or, so I’m told.

  53. @Eric Florack: Should you be able to produce some evidence to back your claim, then let’s get to investigating.

    If, however, it is clear that you are not taking the entire thing seriously in the least, then time to move on.

  54. Matt says:

    @Franklin: Not only that but he was the one to tell the story as part of an article calling for sexual respect. Otherwise no one would of ever known about his boob grab.