100 seconds for sexual assault

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Lance Knobel@lknobel

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100 seconds for sexual assault

The leadership of the Republican Party is not interested in learning the truth about the sexual assault allegations against Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh. They are interested in covering them up.

There are now three women who publicly allege that Kavanaugh committed sexual assault. Julie Swetnick came forward on Wednesday. In a sworn affidavit, she says she saw Kavanaugh "fondling and grabbing" girls. Swetnick also says that she was gang-raped at a party where Kavanaugh was present -- although she did not accuse him of raping her.

If Republicans were interested in determining whether these allegations are true, there is a path forward. Have the FBI conduct a full and independent investigation without artificial time constraints. If, at the conclusion of that investigation Republicans wished to proceed with Kavanaugh's nomination, then hold a public hearing with all relevant witnesses.

But Republican leadership have calculated that Kavanaugh's nomination could not survive such a process.

Instead, they have constructed a sham hearing that excludes every witness except Christine Ford, the first woman to come forward. Swetnick and Deborah Ramirez, who alleges Kavanaugh sexually assaulted her as a student at Yale, will not be permitted to testify. Neither will any other witness, including Mark Judge, who Ford alleges was in the room when she was assaulted by Kavanaugh.

Each Senator on the Judiciary Committee will be allotted just 5 minutes to question Kavanaugh. That's 100 seconds for each allegation of sexual assault -- including questions and answers.

That's not even enough time to brush your teeth.

Mark Judge's ex-girlfriend is willing to talk

The most serious allegation that has emerged against Kavanaugh came Wednesday from Julie Swetnick. In her affidavit, she says she observed Kavanaugh and his friend, Mark Judge, participate in a gang rape.

I also witnessed efforts by Mark Judge, Brett Kavanaugh and others to cause girls to become inebriated and disoriented so they could then be "gang-raped" in a side room or bedroom by a "train" of numerous boys. I have a firm recollection of seeing boys lined up outside rooms of many of these parties waiting for their "turn" with a girl inside the room. These boys included Mark Judge and Brett Kavanaugh.

Judge's ex-girlfriend, Elisabeth Rasor, told The New Yorker that Judge confessed to "taking turns having sex with a drunk woman." Rasor said that Judge "did not name others involved in the incident."

Rasor recalled that Judge had told her ashamedly of an incident that involved him and other boys taking turns having sex with a drunk woman. Rasor said that Judge seemed to regard it as fully consensual. She said that Judge did not name others involved in the incident, and she has no knowledge that Kavanaugh participated.

Still, Rasor's claim bolsters Swetnick's accusation. Rasor's lawyer says she is prepared to talk to the FBI or the Senate Judiciary Committee about what she knows.

Swetnick says that she is aware of "other witnesses" who can attest to her claim.

Mark Judge is currently holed up in a Delaware beach house.

Graham's garbage

Minutes after Swetnick released her affidavit, Senator Lindsey Graham (R-SC) released a statement attacking her. Graham said that he did not find Swetnick's allegations credible but, in a hypothetical scenario where she was telling the truth, she would be at fault for attending the parties in the first place.

I have a difficult time believing any person would continue to go to – according to the affidavit – ten parties over a two-year period where women were routinely gang raped and not report it.  I also find it curious these charges were not brought forward until 2018, two days before a confirmation vote.

Why would any reasonable person continue to hang around people like this?  Why would any person continue to put their friends and themselves in danger? Isn’t there some duty to warn others?

Graham also said that Swetnick was not credible because her attorney was Michael Avenatti, who also represented Stormy Daniels. Avenatti alleged Trump, through his attorney Michael Cohen, illegally paid Daniels $130,000 to cover up an affair. Cohen later pled guilty to two federal crimes related to the payments and said that he conspired with Trump to break the law.

Collins' concerns

Not every Republican senator shares Graham's views about the new allegations against Kavanaugh. In a private meeting with Republicans, Senator Susan Collins (R-ME) "raised serious concerns at a private meeting about the newest allegations of inappropriate behavior against the nominee -- and questioned why the Senate Judiciary Committee had not subpoenaed" Mark Judge, CNN reported.

Other Republicans, including Senator Richard Burr (R-NC), said it would do no good to subpoena Judge because "issuing subpoenas to witnesses could take weeks -- if not months -- and often are not successful."

This is a disingenuous argument. Judge is Kavanaugh's friend. It's likely that Republicans would not even have to issue a subpoena to secure his appearance. If they simply made clear that they would not proceed with Kavanaugh's nomination, he would show up.

Republicans are not asking Judge to testify because they don't want him to testify. In addition to being implicated by Ford and Swetnick, Judge has admitted to being a heavy drinker in high school and has expressed crude attitudes about women.

"Certain women should be struck regularly, like gongs," Judge wrote on his high school yearbook page.

Ford's statement

Christine Ford released her prepared statement about her allegations of sexual assault against Kavanaugh on Wednesday night. It's worth reading in full. Here's an excerpt:

I am here today not because I want to be. I am terrified. I am here because I believe it is my civic duty to tell you what happened to me while Brett Kavanaugh and I were in high school...

...Brett's assault on me drastically altered my life. For a very long time, I was too afraid and ashamed to tell anyone the details. I did not want to tell my parent that I, at age 15, was in a house without any parents present, drinking beer with boys. I tried to convince myself that because Brett did not rape me, I should be able to move on and just pretend that it had never happened.

...As the hearing date got closer, I struggled with a terrible choice: Do I share the facts with the Senate and put myself and my family in the public spotlight? Or do I preserve our privacy and allow the Senate to make its decision on Mr. Kavanaugh's nomination without knowing the full truth about his past behavior?

...I am a fiercely independent woman and I am no one's pawn. My motivation in coming forward was to provide the facts about how Mr. Kavanaugh's actions have damaged my life, so that you can take that into serious consideration as you make your decision about how to proceed. It is not my responsibility to determine whether Mr. Kavanaugh deserves to sit on the Supreme Court. It is my responsibility to tell the truth.

Anonymous claims

Republicans have made public two other anonymous claims of sexual assault against Kavanaugh. I'm not discussing them here. Anonymous claims are impossible to assess and, therefore, are inherently less credible than the claims made publicly by three women. We should not lose focus on the women who opened themselves up to public scrutiny to tell their story.

Trump in denial

Trump has decided that "he must personally take charge of defending his embattled nominee," Brett Kavanaugh, CNN reports. That is why he scheduled a rare press conference on Wednesday afternoon.

During the press conference, Trump was confronted about the accusations of sexual assault leveled against him by multiple women.

"I was accused by four or five women who got paid a lot of money to make up stories about me. We caught them [and] the mainstream media refused to put it on television. They refused to even write about it," Trump said.

The mainstream media did not "write about it" because Trump's is lying.

14 women

First, Trump was not accused by "four or five" women of sexual assault. He was accused by at least 14 women. They have names.

Ninni Laaksonen, former Miss Finland, says “Trump stood right next to me and suddenly he squeezed my butt” in July 2006.

Jessica Drake says Trump grabbed and kissed her without consent, then offered her $10,000 for sex in 2006.

Karena Virginia says she was groped by Trump at the U.S. Open in 1998.

Cathy Heller says Trump grabbed her and attempted to kiss her at Mar-a-lago in 1997.

Summer Zervos, an Apprentice contestant, says Trump kissed her, grabbed her breasts and began “thrusting his genitals” in 2007.  

Kristin Anderson says Trump reached under her skirt and grabbed her vagina through her underwear in the early 1990s.

Jessica Leeds says Trump lifted up the armrest, grabbed her breasts and reached his hand up her skirt in the early 1980s.

Rachel Crooks says she was sexually assaulted by Trump in an elevator in Trump Tower in 2005.

Mindy McGillivray says Trump groped her while she was attending a concert at Mar-a-lago in 2003.

Natasha Stoynoff says Trump pushed her against a wall and jammed his tongue down her throat at Mar-a-lago in 2005.

Jennifer Murphy, another Apprentice contestant, says Trump kissed her on the lips after a job interview in 2005.  

Cassandra Searles says Trump grabbed her ass and invited her to his hotel room in 2013.

Temple Taggart McDowell, Former Miss Utah, says Trump kissed her directly on the lips the first time she met him in 1997.

Jill Harth says Trump repeatedly sexually harassed her and groped her underneath a table in 1993.

Who actually got paid

Trump was referring to an article published in The Hill. According to the report, two women with claims against Trump were offered money.

One woman, The Hill reported, never came forward. The other was Jill Harth. She received about $2300 from a GoFundMe campaign in 2016. Separately, an anonymous donor paid off her mortgage of less than $30,000.

But even in the case of Harth, these payments did not prompt her to come forward with her story. Harth first told her story in 1997, when she sued Trump.

Trump claimed that women were essentially paid to make up stories. But Harth, the only woman who received any money, was paid nearly 20 years after her story first came out.

That still leaves at least 13 women who have accused Trump of sexual assault and were not paid in any form or fashion.

During the campaign, Trump said that "[a]ll of these liars will be sued after the election is over.” He has not sued any of them.

Trump says his personal experience shapes his views of Kavanaugh

During his press conference, Trump acknowledged that his personal experience of being accused of sexual assault shaped his views on the accusations against Kavanaugh.

It does impact my opinion. You know why? Because I’ve had a lot of false charges made against me. I’m a very famous person. Unfortunately. I’ve been a famous person for a long time. But I’ve had a lot of false charges made against me. Really false charges. I know friends that have had false charges. People want fame, they want money, they want whatever. So when I see it, I view it differently than somebody sitting home watching television where they say, oh, Judge Kavanaugh, this or that. It’s happened to me many times.

Thanks for reading!

Starting Monday, subscribers to Popular Information will receive one free newsletter each week. If you want to continue to receive all four weekly editions -- and I hope you do -- you'll need a paid subscription

I'm offering a limited number of annual subscriptions at $40 year at this special link.