Republicans have been working to discredit a sexual misconduct allegation against Supreme Court nominee Judge Brett Kavanaugh since word of it started leaking out last week ― even before Christine Blasey Ford went public with her identity and story.
Ford alleges that when she was 15, she was at a house party that Kavanaugh, then 17, also attended. She said that at one point, he and a friend of his locked her in a room and turned up the music so her protests wouldn’t be heard. She said Kavanaugh, drunk, climbed on top of her and attempted to remove her clothes.
She has taken a polygraph test administered by a former FBI agent and told a therapist about the incident in 2012, although she didn’t name Kavanaugh at the time.
Ford and Kavanaugh may testify before the Senate Judiciary Committee next week, although it’s not clear whether they can agree to the terms for it to happen. But in the meantime, since Ford’s story became public, Republicans have attempted to cast doubt on it. Some of their attempts to argue that Ford’s story isn’t valid:
Well, Kavanaugh Didn’t Sexually Assault Every Woman
After the Ford allegations became public ― but before Ford revealed her identity ― the Republicans on the Senate Judiciary Committee released a letter signed by 65 women who said they knew Kavanaugh in high school and could vouch for his “decency.” Two women who said they dated Kavanaugh also released statements Monday saying that they knew him as a good guy.
Bringing out women who didn’t experience any sexual misconduct to vouch for the character of a man is a common tactic. It happened during Clarence Thomas’ Supreme Court confirmation hearing and when then–Fox News Chairman Roger Ailes was under fire. But just because a man didn’t mistreat all women doesn’t mean he didn’t mistreat one woman.
If It Could Happen To Kavanaugh, It Could Happen To Any Man
If it could happen to him, Joe from your office could be next. Maybe Ray, the friendly guy who bags your groceries. Or even you.
“If somebody can be brought down by accusations like this, then you, me, every man certainly should be worried. We can all be accused of something,” said a lawyer close to the White House.
But it hasn’t happened to every man. Neal Gorsuch made it onto the Supreme Court bench just fine. So did John Roberts and Samuel Alito.
Former Rep. Joe Walsh (R-Ill.) tweeted a similar concern.
Alexandra Petri at The Washington Post has a solid response to this worry.
Ford Got Low Marks On A Professor-Rating Website
The conservative Drudge Report ran with a story from Grabien News on Monday that purported to have uncovered negative reviews of Ford, a professor at Palo Alto University, by her students and posted on RateMyProfessor.com. This attack would seemingly undermine Ford because a bad professor can’t also be a victim of sexual assault, or something?
But they messed with the wrong woman. No, really. The story was literally about the wrong woman. The reviews were about Christine A. Ford, a social worker who taught at California State University at Fullerton.
Although Grabien News posted a retraction, Drudge deleted the tweet and pretended nothing ever happened.
It Was So Long Ago
Ari Fleischer, who served as President George W. Bush’s press secretary during the run-up to the Iraq War, said he wasn’t sure Kavanaugh should be held responsible for something he did in high school.
“How much in society should any of us be held liable today when we lived a good life, an upstanding life by all accounts, and then something that maybe is an arguable issue took place in high school?” Fleischer said on Fox News. “Should that deny us chances later in life? Even for a Supreme Court job, a presidency of the United States or you name it. How accountable are we for high school actions, when this is clearly a disputable high school action? That’s a tough issue.”
Donald Trump Jr. put up an Instagram post implying that they were just kids back then and it was just like when a boy asks a girl out on a date with a handwritten note.
Ford, meanwhile, said that the incident with Kavanaugh “derailed me substantially for four or five years,” leading her to struggle academically and socially. She also had trouble forming relationships with men.
According to The Wall Street Journal’s editorial board, because the alleged assault happened so long ago, just ignore it: “Yet there is no way to confirm her story after 36 years, and to let it stop Mr. Kavanaugh’s confirmation would ratify what has all the earmarks of a calculated political ambush.”
They Were Just Horsing Around
Carrie Severino, the chief counsel at the conservative Judicial Crisis Network, attempted to defend Kavanaugh on Tuesday by characterizing the behavior described by Ford as “rough horseplay.”
“Her allegations cover a whole range of conduct from boorishness to rough horseplay to actual attempted rape. If you go to rape, yes, that’s a very serious allegation,” she said.
When the CNN anchor pointed out that Ford never once described what Kavanaugh did as horseplay, Severino replied, “She’s certainly implying that it’s attempted rape, but you have to look at ― there are 35 years of memory that we’re trying to play with here. I’m saying that the behavior she described here could be a whole range of things. I know her perception of it was one way.”
Yes, that’s what high school students do all the time. Just men and women, horsing around, with one trying to remove the other’s clothes.
Something About The Salem Witch Trials
Lance Morrow, a senior fellow at the Ethics and Public Policy Center, wrote an op-ed in The Wall Street Journal comparing Kavanaugh to women who had been accused of being witches. He said that “hysterical fantasies had real consequences,” resulting in the death of women believed to be witches.
Morrow goes after Ford for first not identifying herself and points out that because there was no police report, no witnesses and the other guy in the room at the time (whose reliability as a character witness is questionable) denies that the incident took place.
“The thing happened — if it happened — an awfully long time ago,” he added, “back in Ronald Reagan’s time, when the actors in the drama were minors and (the boys, anyway) under the blurring influence of alcohol and adolescent hormones.”
Something About The Russia Investigation
The Liberty Counsel, a conservative group supporting Kavanaugh, sent out a press release with at least seven reasons the public should not trust Ford. One of them seemed new and different:
Ford has a brother, Ralph Blasey, who worked for Baker Hostetler, a law firm that retained Fusion GPS, the infamous DC company that produced the unverified Steele dossier on President Donald Trump and Russia, sparking the Russia investigation.
It’s ridiculous to think that because Ford’s brother works at a law firm that had some tie to the Russia investigation, she is in on some grand conspiracy to bring down Kavanaugh and Trump. But Blasey worked at the firm from 1989 to 2004 — long before Trump was president or even considering running for president.
Ford Bears A Grudge Against Kavanaugh’s Mom
Right-wing websites started running with a theory about why Ford is coming out against Kavanaugh (other than that he allegedly assaulted her): His mother, formerly a Maryland district judge, ruled against Ford’s parents in a foreclosure case.
“Isn’t it kind of amazing that all the media reports today didn’t mention this little conflict of interest for Blasey-Ford?” wrote the site Pacific Pundit.
They didn’t mention this story because it’s not true, as Snopes points out. Kavanaugh’s mom did preside in a foreclosure case involving Ford’s parents, but the outcome of the case was actually favorable for them.