As Brett Kavanaugh’s historic hearing approaches, parties on both sides are still clashing on whether new allegations will also be discussed during the hearing. But the Senate Judiciary chairman confirmed Tuesday that the committee has hired an outside counsel to question Kavanaugh and the woman who accused him of sexual assault.
Although the sticking points don’t seem to be a roadblock that will force a delay of the hearing, there is fierce negotiating going on between lawyers for Christine Blasey Ford, who has accused Kavanaugh of sexual assault in the 1980s when they were both teenagers, and the Republican staff on the Senate Judiciary Committee.
Although Ford had agreed to the hearings, the issue had remained a sticking point, and two of her attorneys contacted the committee Monday night asking for details about who the outside counsel might be.
More than a century ago, the Supreme Court described a principle that it called “undoubted, axiomatic and elementary.” It is, the Court said, “unquestioned in the textbooks” and can be traced all the way back to ancient Greece and Rome. This fundamental principle — the presumption of innocence — may be one of the casualties of the campaign against Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh.
The cynics — or, perhaps more precisely, the realists — believed that the Democrats were playing for time in the hopes of finding another accusation against Brett Kavanaugh. The cynics were right.
The New Yorker stooped to publish a shoddy story alleging that Kavanaugh exposed himself to a woman while he was at Yale. The alleged incident occurred at a drunken party when both were in their freshman year. What’s extraordinary is that the woman making the charge, a fellow Yale student named Deborah Ramirez, admits that she hesitated to come forward because there were such large gaps in her memory. Like who the correct person likely was?
As the magazine puts it: “In her initial conversations with The New Yorker, she was reluctant to characterize Kavanaugh’s role in the alleged incident with certainty.” She only decided to talk, it says, “after six days of carefully assessing her memories and consulting with her attorney.” Or in other words, until she got the rules of the “con-game.”
Even after her new-found certainty — which happens to accord with her political interest as a Democrat — her story still contains gaps. She was drunk and didn’t directly see that it was Kavanaugh who put his penis in front of her face when she was on the floor. She says she heard someone yell out that it was Kavanaugh who had done this, and she saw him make a motion afterward that was consistent with pulling up his pants. So even she is making the charge as a matter of hearsay and interpretation.
The only other corroboration is an unidentified classmate who tells the magazine that he heard of the incident afterward — in other words, more hearsay.
Otherwise, the authors write, “The New Yorker has not confirmed with other eyewitnesses that Kavanaugh was present at the party,” a rather important lacuna if you are publishing a story that will contribute to an effort to destroy a man’s reputation. (Where’s William Shawn when you need him?) Two male students identified by Ramirez as being present at the party said they had no recollection of any such incident.
The New Yorker story comes on the heels of another blow to the credibility of Christine Blasey Ford’s account. She has identified four other people who were present at the high-school party where Kavanaugh allegedly assaulted her as a teenager. All have denied it, now including Leland Keyser, who is a long-time friend of Ford’s and a Democrat. She told the Judiciary Committee through her lawyer, “Simply put, Ms. Keyser does not know Mr. Kavanaugh and she has no recollection of ever being at a party or gathering where he was present, with, or without, Dr. Ford.”
Clearly, the opposition to Kavanaugh hopes that the two stories — with perhaps more on the way — will support each other despite their inherent weakness. If Democrats take down Kavanaugh on the basis of these charges, they will have achieved the miraculous by stopping a Supreme Court nominee with two unproven and probably unprovable charges, in a smashing victory for garbage-pail politics.