The smear campaign against Christine Blasey Ford

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The smear campaign against Christine Blasey Ford

Republican leaders in the Senate spent much of Monday desperately trying to figure out how to avoid a public hearing where Christine Blasey Ford could testify that she was sexually assaulted by Brett Kavanaugh.

It didn't work.

A plan by Chuck Grassley (R-IA), the chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, to have committee staff question Ford over the phone was endorsed by Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY).

But Grassley and McConnell faced a revolt within their party.

With Republicans clinging to a 51-49 majority, five Republicans demanded that Ford have an opportunity to be heard before the Judiciary Committee moved forward. They lacked the votes to jam Kavanaugh's nomination through.

Late in the day, Grassley announced that Ford and Kavanaugh would testify under oath on Monday. Thursday's scheduled committee vote was scrapped.

The decision sets up a dramatic confrontation eerily reminiscent of Anita Hill's appearance before the same committee in 1991.

In some ways, little has changed. The Republicans on the Senate Judiciary Committee are still all men. But the politics of seeking to discredit a woman speaking out about sexual misconduct has shifted in the last 27 years.

If they employ the same tactics against Ford that they used against Hill, it could backfire. Their tactics may not only determine the fate of Kavanaugh's nomination but have a major impact on November's election.

That's why Republican leadership was trying to avoid it all together.

"Dr. Ford's allegations deserve to be heard"

The only reason there will be a hearing on Monday: Republicans had no other choice.

Early Monday, Senator Susan Collins (R-ME), who has been closely watched since Kavanaugh was nominated, called for Ford and Kavanaugh to "testify under oath."

Sen. Susan Collins@SenatorCollins

Professor Ford and Judge Kavanaugh should both testify under oath before the Judiciary Committee.

September 17, 2018
She was joined later in the day by Senator Lisa Murkowski (R-AK), who also demanded a public hearing. "Dr. Ford's allegations deserve to be heard and she must have an opportunity to testify before the committee under oath," she said in a statement.

Other Republican Senators did not go as far as Collins and Murkowski but expressed a desire to hear from Ford. "If they push forward without any attempt with hearing what she's had to say, I'm not comfortable voting yes. We need to hear from her. And I don't think I'm alone in this," Senator Jeff Flake (R-AZ), who sits on the Judiciary Committee, said.

Senator Roy Blunt (R-MO) and Senator Cory Gardner (R-CO) made similar statements.

Orrin Hatch goes back to the future

Orrin Hatch (R-UT), who viciously attacked Anita Hill in 1991, came to Kavanaugh's defense on Monday. His statement was very odd.

Hatch said that he spoke to Kavanaugh for 10 minutes and Kavanaugh told him he didn't attend the party in question. It's unclear if Kavanaugh said that he specifically remembered the party and that he didn't attend or if he just never attended a party where he sexually assaulted Ford.

Igor Bobic@igorbobic

Hatch says he spoke with Kavanaugh on phone an hour ago and that the judge told him he was not at the party where Ford allegation stems from.

"There's some question whether she's mixed up” about Kavanaugh being there, he tells reporters

September 17, 2018

Asked about the possibility that Kavanaugh was so inebriated that he didn't remember the incident, Hatch said Kavanaugh said, "that's not true." Kavanaugh bragged about his prodigious drinking as a high school student and his friend Mark Judge, who allegedly witnessed the sexual assault, wrote a book about rampant alcoholism at Georgetown Prep, the elite high school they both attended.

Hatch's claim that Ford is "mixed up" closely tracks the language he used in 1991 to discredit Hill.

She is clearly a very intelligent woman... But there are a lot of things that just don't make sense to me about Anita Hill's testimony. Some of it just doesn't square with what I think is basic reality and common sense.

Hatch said that Ford should appear in a public hearing. In 1991, he used his time questioning Hill to paint her as "an unreliable witness and...the willing tool of liberal zealots and teams of 'slick attorneys.'"

In an interview with the Deseret News, Hatch went further, saying that Hill was a liar coached by Democratic operatives, and cribbed her story from the movie The Exorcist.

After two days as the Republicans' designated questioner of Supreme Court nominee Clarence Thomas, Sen. Orrin Hatch, R-Utah, said late Saturday he now has no doubt personally that Anita Hill lied about sexual harassment by Thomas.

"And there's no question in my mind she was coached by special interest groups," he told the Deseret News in an interview. "Her story's too contrived. It's so slick it doesn't compute. "He said key signs of that include two charges she made for the first time on Friday, which research by Republicans showed may have been borrowed from a Kansas sexual harassment case and the book, "The Exorcist."

On Monday, Hatch added that even if Ford's allegations were true, they should not be disqualifying.

Lauren Gambino@laurenegambino

Hatch, if hearings found her allegations to be credible: "If that was true, I think it would be hard for senators to not consider who the judge is today. That’s the issue. Is this judge a really good man? And he is. And by any measure he is." https://t.co/Eti09Hyj68

September 17, 2018

Hatch also initially defended former White House Staff Secretary Rob Porter, who used to work for Hatch, after two of his ex-wives alleged Porter physically abused them.

It is incredibly discouraging to see such a vile attack on such a decent man. Shame on any publication that would print this and shame on the politically motivated, morally bankrupt character assassins that would attempt to sully a man's good name.

Graham previews his attack

Appearing on Monday night on Hannity, the Fox News host who doubles as one of Donald Trump's closest advisers, Senator Lindsay Graham (R-SC) foreshadowed his coming attacks on Ford.

Graham questioned why Ford had hired an attorney and took a polygraph test in August if she never intended on coming forward. The answer, of course, is that Ford has been considering coming forward with her story since July when she first contacted the Washington Post.

Graham also suggested, as Hatch did with Hill, that Ford was a puppet of a liberal conspiracy. He raised the question about "who paid" for Ford's polygraph.

The third man

One person who is not scheduled to appear at Monday's hearing is Kavanaugh's friend, Mark Judge. Ford says that Judge witnessed the sexual assault.

Judge's testimony could be critical. Speaking to Hatch, Kavanaugh went beyond denying the assault. He said he did not attend the party where the alleged sexual assault occurred.

Judge could speak to that claim as well as the possibility that he or Kavanaugh may have been too inebriated to remember the incident.

In an interview with CNN, Judiciary Committee member Chris Coons (D-DE) said that Judge should testify.

OutFrontCNN@OutFrontCNN

Sen. Coons says Kavanaugh's friend Mark Judge should testify before the Judiciary Committee. "Not having in front of us the third person who is alleged to have been a participant in this troubling incident would be to not fully question whether there is some truth to it or not" pic.twitter.com/ULAnkBVvMV

September 17, 2018

A new witness

Ford told her therapist about the sexual assault in 2012, many years before Trump nominated Kavanaugh to the Supreme Court. That fact undercuts the theory, advanced by Republicans, that Ford's allegations are part of a political conspiracy to take down Kavanaugh.

The Mercury News spoke to another friend of Ford's who says she told her about the incident in 2017.

Matt McDermott@mattmfm

A new witness: friend of Ford says she was told of Kavanaugh assault in 2017.

“It happened when she was really young and that the guy was a federal judge. She said she had been assaulted. She said it had been violent.” https://t.co/0VpuoXy3s1

September 18, 2018

Trump speaks

At the White House, Trump spoke about the allegations and offered his unqualified support for Kavanaugh. "Judge Kavanaugh is one of the finest people I have ever known... never had even a little blemish on his record," Trump said. He also repeatedly criticized Diane Feinstein (D-CA) for not disclosing the information sooner.

Trump's support of Kavanaugh tracks his support of other prominent men in his orbit who were accused of sexual misconduct.

Trump on Rob Porter, who was accused of physically abusing two ex-wives: "He did a very good job... He says he's innocent."

Trump on Roy Moore, who was accused of sexually abusing girls: "He totally denies it…[Moore] has run eight races and this has never come up."

Trump on Bill O'Reilly, who was accused of serial sexual harassment: "I think he's a person I know well — he is a good person...I don’t think Bill did anything wrong."

At least 14 women have accused Trump of sexual assault.

Trump Jr. goes low

Playing the role of attack dog against Ford is Donald Trump Jr., who appears around the country as a political surrogate for his father. Trump Jr. mocked the sexual assault allegations by Trump on Instagram.

Lynne Patton, a top official at the Department of Housing and Urban Development and former Trump campaign operative, commented approvingly.

The right-wing's incompetent smear campaign

The right-wing media machine spent Monday trying to discredit Ford. A piece hyped by the Drudge Report claimed that Ford's students gave her poor ratings.

The only problem is that it was the wrong Christine Ford. The one making the allegations against Kavanaugh teaches at Palo Alto University. The student reviews were about a Christine Ford who teaches at California State University Fullerton.

Later, Drudge pivoted to a story claiming that Ford was seeking retribution because Kavanaugh's mother ruled against Ford's parents in a foreclosure action.

DRUDGE REPORT@DRUDGE_REPORT

Kavanaugh Mother Presided Over Foreclosure Hearing Involving Accuser Parents... https://t.co/W9ZKlhKeav

September 17, 2018

But Ford's parents settled their dispute with the bank after they were able to secure refinancing. Kavanaugh's mother just signed off on the motion to dismiss, which benefited Ford's parents.

Drudge also shared a link from InfoWars, the conspiracy site that contended the Sandy Hook massacre was a hoax, claiming Ford is an anti-Trump activist.

The evidence for this claim is that Ford donated $72 to Democrats and attended the Women's March after Trump's inauguration.

Federal court employees reportedly have info on Kavanaugh

There may be more damaging information to emerge about Kavanaugh. In The Intercept, Ryan Grim reports that an attorney, Cyrus Sanai, sent a letter to Grassley and Feinstein that revealed "there are persons who work for, or who have worked for, the federal judiciary who have important stories to tell about disgraced former Chief Judge Alex Kozinski, and his mentee, current United States Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh."

Kozinski resigned in disgrace after reports of sexual harassment. He was a mentor and close friend of Kavanaugh.

During his confirmation hearing, Kavanaugh said "that he had no knowledge whatsoever of Kozinski’s behavior and was stunned to learn of the misconduct allegations."

According to Sanai, Kavanaugh's testimony "could be contradicted by witnesses." Kavanaugh's credibility, of course, has taken center stage after he adamantly denied Ford's allegations.


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September 17, 2018
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September 17, 2018