This is what GOP authoritarianism looks like: a sham hearing and a denial of due process to a victim of sexual abuse.
I explained yesterday, The Senate needs to get this right, and right now it is failing: for judicial background checks, the client is not the Senate but the White House. And the White House Hasn’t Asked FBI to Vet Kavanaugh Allegations, Sources Say.
The FBI background is the legally correct thing to do in fairness to both the accuser and the accused. Due process demands it. As Sen. Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.) told the Washington Post, “If there’s a hearing before that investigation, the committee is going to be shooting in the dark with questions.” “As a former prosecutor and state attorney general, there’s no way I would put a crime survivor on the stand in front of a jury, let alone the American people, without a full investigation so that I know what the facts are before I start asking questions.”
On Tuesday, Christine Blasey Ford Requested That the F.B.I. to Investigate Kavanaugh Before She Testifies, a reasonable request, as is her right:
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.
Earlier in the day, President Trump said the FBI should not probe allegations against top court pick:
President Donald Trump said on Tuesday that the FBI should not investigate a California professor’s allegations of sexual assault against Trump’s pick for U.S. Supreme Court, Brett Kavanaugh, adding that he wants his nominee confirmed quickly.
Trump told reporters at the White House, “I don’t think the FBI really need to be involved because they don’t want to be involved. If they wanted to be, I would certainly do that, but as you know, they say this is not really their thing.”
This, of course, is total bullshit. The FBI is the agency that does background checks, it is “really their thing.” There is also precedent: the FBI did a background check prior to the Anita Hill hearing in 1991. It was criticized for being a rushed cursory review, but it was done.
Trump then, unintentionally, left the door open to the FBI background check that respects due process:
[Trump] said there was enough time to get his pick confirmed before the elections.
“It’s a process, and we all feel – speaking for all of the Republicans – we feel that we want to go through this process and we want to give everybody a chance to say what they have to say. So we have time available. We will delay the process until it’s finished out. We’ve invited everybody,” he said.
This also was a lie. Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Chuck Grassley echoed Trump’s earlier statement, No Need For FBI To Investigate Kavanaugh Allegation:
Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa), chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, rejected calls that the FBI help investigate an explosive allegation of sexual assault against Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh, saying federal investigators “would have no bearing” on what Christine Blasey Ford tells lawmakers in the coming days.
“We’ve offered Dr. Ford the opportunity to share her story with the committee, as her attorney said yesterday she was willing to do,” Grassley said in a statement Tuesday. “We offered her a public or a private hearing as well as staff-led interviews, whichever makes her most comfortable. The invitation for Monday still stands.”
But, he continued, “Dr. Ford’s testimony would reflect her personal knowledge and memory of events. 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.”
This is, of course, total bullshit. The FBI could discover circumstantial evidence which matches Dr. Blasey’s description of events and speak to other persons who were at the party in question who could corroborate Dr. Blasey’s description of events (she went upstairs with Kavanaugh and Judge, locked herself in a bathroom, fled the party, etc.) Someone at that party must have saw something. Republicans don’t want to take that risk.
In the alternative, the FBI investigation might disprove Dr. Ford’s allegation and completely exonerate Kavanaugh. You would think if Kavanaugh’s denial of the incident is true, that Kavanaugh himself would agree to a delay and insist on this FBI investigation, in fairness to himself and Dr. Ford. He has not, which begs the question “why?”
The Trump “Injustice” Department said on Tuesday that it had no intention of reopening its background investigation of Kavanaugh, telling NPR in a statement that the FBI “does not make any judgment about the credibility or significance of any allegation.”
“The purpose of a background investigation is to determine whether the nominee could pose a risk to the national security of the United States,” the agency said. “The allegation does not involve any potential federal crime. The FBI’s role in such matters is to provide information for the use of the decision makers.”
This also is total bullshit. Once again, the FBI is the agency that does background checks, it is “really their thing.” There is also precedent: the FBI did a background check prior to the Anita Hill hearing in 1991. It was criticized for being a rushed cursory review, but it was done.
The one Republican who could force a delay in Monday’s sham hearing is Arizona’s Sen. Jeff Flake. Flake was the first GOP senator to suggest delaying Kavanaugh’s confirmation hearing, which was previously scheduled for this week.
But, per usual, after playing the “principled conservative” card, Flake folded like a house of cards and is now toeing the GOP line on “its Monday or move on.”
Sen. Jeff Flake (R-Ariz.) echoed Grassley’s comments on Tuesday evening.
“When Dr. Ford came forward, I said that her voice should be heard and asked the Judiciary Committee to delay its vote on Judge Kavanaugh,” he tweeted. “It did so. I now implore Dr. Ford to accept the invitation for Monday, in a public or private setting. The committee should hear her voice.”
The Times report continues:
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.”
A sham hearing and a denial of due process is in no way “good faith,” senator.
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.
* * *
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.’” [Sen. Orrin Hatch (R-Utah), who said this week Kavanaugh should be confirmed even if the allegations are true.]
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.
As for Trump’s assertion that “everyone” has been invited to testify (it is not even known who else was at the party), “Sen. 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.
Sen. Grassley has the power to compel Judge’s testimony by subpoena, but he will not.
Republicans, clearly hoping to avoid a repeat of the Hill-Thomas scenario, were considering employing a special counsel or staff member to question Dr. Blasey and Judge Kavanaugh. Democrats accused Republicans of trying to rush through a hearing without a proper investigation of serious charges.
“She is under no obligation to participate in the Republican efforts to sweep the whole thing under the rug, to continue this nomination on a fast track,” said Senator Patty Murray, Democrat of Washington, who won her Senate seat in 1992. “It’s basically a railroad job. This is what they did to Anita Hill.”
If Republicans go forward with this sham hearing on Monday without affording Christine Blasey Ford due process and a fair opportunity to be heard, Brett Kavanaugh will forever be tainted, as is Clarence Thomas, should Republicans steamroll his nomination.
Dr. Blasey’s hometown newspaper, the San Jose Mercury News, has more about how right-wing thugs are victimizing this sexual assault survivor a second time. Christine Blasey Ford feared an avalanche of attacks if she went public about Kavanaugh, friends say:
Rebecca White, one of Blasey Ford’s neighbors and a good friend, said “She’s one of those people who teems with honesty and truth. She’s just that person.”
In an interview Monday with this news organization, White said that Blasey Ford had told her about the alleged assault — without naming Kavanaugh — in late 2017 during the height of the #MeToo movement and long before Kavanaugh was a Supreme Court nominee.
Last year, White had added her own #MeToo story about being raped as a teenager to a Facebook post.
“She reached out to me afterward, supporting me and my story and that she had something happen to her when she was really young and that the guy was a federal judge,” White said. “She said she had been assaulted. She said hers had been violent as well, physically scary, fighting for her life.”
It’s been difficult for Blasey Ford over the years, she told White, because the judge’s name would come up as “a super powerful guy and he might be a contender for a Supreme Court position one day.”
* * *
“I’ve been trying to forget this all my life, and now I’m supposed to remember every little detail,” one of those friends, Jim Gensheimer, recalled Blasey Ford saying that summer day while watching her kids participate in a Junior Lifeguard program. “They’re going to be all over me.”
* * *
Kirsten Leimroth, whose daughters are also part of the Junior Lifeguard program, was with Blasey Ford and Gensheimer that day at the beachside restaurant when Blasey Ford worried about her name being revealed. She had told Leimroth well before the July lunch that she had been “almost raped by a high school acquaintance,” but doesn’t remember exactly when that first conversation happened. The suggestion that Blasey Ford would make it up as a political ploy is “preposterous,” Leimroth said.
“There’s absolutely no way it’s made up. She can’t even go home,” Leimroth said in an interview Monday night. “She had to have her kids stay somewhere else. She had to shut down all social media. Why would she do that?”
At 10:28 Tuesday morning, a Twitter account with a white nationalist talking point for its handle posted Christine Blasey Ford’s personal address.
The account called for “peaceful protests” at Ford’s home in Northern California over her accusation that Judge Brett Kavanaugh sexually assaulted her at a party in the early 1980s when they were teenagers. The allegation was a “hoax” orchestrated by the “deranged left,” the account tweeted.
This was at least the third time a Twitter user had “doxed” Ford — posted her personal information online — since she revealed her identity to The Washington Post and accused President Donald Trump’s Supreme Court nominee of sexual assault.
Within hours of coming forward, Ford faced attacks on her privacy and credibility, confirming the fears she had expressed about what would happen if she went public and echoing the backlash faced by other accusers in the #MeToo era.
This is what GOP authoritarianism looks like: sham hearings, denial of due process, and right-wing thuggery from Trump’s white nationalist “deplorables.”