Christine Blasey Ford’s lawyers blast FBI: ‘Not interested in seeking the truth

“An FBI supplemental background investigation that did not include an interview of Dr. Christine Blasey Ford– nor the witnesses who corroborate her testimony — cannot be called an investigation,” the statement read. “We are profoundly disappointed that after the tremendous sacrifice she made in coming forward, those directing the FBI investigation were not interested in seeking the truth.”

The F.B.I. Probe Ignored Testimonies from Former Classmates of Kavanaugh

During his first year at Yale, Appold lived in the basement of Lawrance Hall, one of the university’s freshman dormitories. He was in the same suite of bedrooms as Kavanaugh, sharing a common room. Appold said of Kavanaugh, “We didn’t hang out together, but there was no animosity between us either.” He said he believes that “there were two sides to Brett.” Those who have described the judge as studious and somewhat reserved or shy are correct, he said. He added, “That was true part of the time, but so are the other things that have been said about him. He drank a lot, and when he was drinking he could be aggressive, and belligerent. He wasn’t beating people up, but there was an edge and an obnoxiousness that I could see at the hearings. When I saw clips”—of Kavanaugh’s Senate testimony—“I remembered it immediately.”

.. Appold said that he learned about the alleged incident with Ramirez during thewinter of the 1983-84 school year. He recalled being told that, during a party in a first-floor common room in Lawrance Hall, Kavanaugh went over to Ramirez, who had been participating in a drinking game, “and opened his pants, and pulled out his penis, and tried to put it in her face.” But she waved him away. Appold recalled hearing that Ramirez said something like “It’s not a real penis.” He said that the remark made no sense to him at the time, and he understood it only after reading Ramirez’s allegation in The New Yorker and learning that people had been playing pranks with a fake plastic penis at the party.

In an interview with The New Yorker last month, Ramirez said, “I remember a penis being in front of my face,” and that “I knew that’s not what I wanted, even in that state of mind.” She recalled remarking, “That’s not a real penis,” and that other students were laughing at her confusion and taunting her; one encouraged her to “kiss it.”

Appold recalled being “shocked” when he was told of Kavanaugh’s alleged behavior. “The person who saw it was taken aback by what he had seen,” too, he said. Appold added, “It was a disturbing thing. I think everyone recognized that a line had been crossed here.”

Looking back, Appold said, “The thing I ask myself is, why didn’t anybody do anything about it? Why didn’t anybody report it?” But, he added, “The times were different then. Today I’m an educator, and if something like this happened, I’d know exactly where to go to the Title IX people. But back then there was no place to report these uncomfortable things—we tried to forget about them.” Kavanaugh has argued that, if he had behaved as Ramirez described, the whole campus would have talked about it, but Appold said that, to the contrary, “It was more, like, ‘Don’t talk about it.’ ”

.. After seeing Kavanaugh’s blanket denials of Ford and Ramirez’s allegations, and his assertions of his rectitude during his high-school and college years, Appold said, “I had concerns that there was a good chance he wasn’t telling the truth.” He was certain, he said, that “what he said about drinking was not accurate.”

.. Ramirez said that her main concern, after her F.B.I. interview, was that the agents who interviewed her might not be the same ones talking to people who could corroborate her account—she felt that continuity was important. But she had not anticipated that people she believed had relevant information wouldn’t even be interviewed. “Being told that these people haven’t even been contacted,” Ramirez said, “it’s very troubling to me.”

.. In addition to Appold, several other former Yale classmates said that they had reached out to the F.B.I. about Kavanaugh, but had not received a response. Stephen Kantrowitz, a former Yale classmate, said in a text message, “No one who lived in Lawrance Hall (so far as I know) has been contacted by the FBI What a charade.”

.. he described Kavanaugh as part of a clique of high-school athletes, most of whom were on the football team, who “routinely picked on” less physically fit or popular students. He said that he never witnessed Kavanaugh physically attacking another student, but he recalled him doing “nothing to stop the physical and verbal abuse.” Instead, he said, Kavanaugh “stood by and laughed at the victims.” Both Ford and Ramirez have said that they remembered Kavanaugh laughing during their ordeals. “It was so wrenching for me when I heard Dr. Ford mention how they were laughing,” the Georgetown Prep classmate said, in a phone interview. “That really, really struck a chord. I can hear him laughing when someone was picked on right now.”

.. In his statement, the classmate also said that he recalled, “on multiple occasions, Brett Kavanaugh counting on his fingers how many kegs they had over the weekend.” The amount that he heard Kavanaugh describe, he said in the statement, “seemed to be an extreme amount of beer drinking for someone to consume at any age, let alone someone in high school.” He said that he also recalled Kavanaugh participating in general conversations “where the football players were bragging about their sexual conquests over the prior weekend.”

.. His statement also challenges Kavanaugh’s assertion in last week’s hearing that he never denigrated a female student named Renate Schroeder

.. Kavanaugh and thirteen other Georgetown Prep boys described themselves in their high-school yearbook as “Renate Alumnius,” which other classmates have told the Times was a crude sexual boast. During his Senate hearing, Kavanaugh said that the reference was an endearment, saying, “She was a great friend of ours. We—a bunch of us went to dances with her. She hung out with us as a group.”

.. But the classmate who submitted the statement said that he heard Kavanaugh “talk about Renate many times,” and that “the impression I formed at the time from listening to these conversations where Brett Kavanaugh was present was that Renate was the girl that everyone passed around for sex.” The classmate said that “Brett Kavanaugh had made up a rhyme using the REE NATE pronunciation of Renate’s name” and sang it in the hallways on the way to class. He recalled the rhyme going, “REE NATE, REE NATE, if you want a date, can’t get one until late, and you wanna get laid, you can make it with REE NATE.” He said that while he might not be remembering the rhyme word for word, “the substance is 100 percent accurate.” He added, “I thought that this was sickening at the time I heard it, and it left an indelible mark in my memory.”

.. “I did nothing to deserve this. There is nothing affectionate or respectful in bragging about making sexual conquests that never happened. I am not a political person, but my reputation matters to me and to my family. I would not have signed the letter if I had known about the yearbook references and this affidavit. It is heartbreaking if these guys who acted like my friends in high school were saying these nasty, false things about me behind my back.”

.. Angela Walker, who was in Dolphin’s class at Stone Ridge, also submitted a declaration to the F.B.I. .. “It’s a terrible betrayal.” She noted, too, that the depiction of Dolphin reported in the classmate’s statement “is not the Renate that I knew—it’s not possible.” Walker’s declaration described attending a large house party with Georgetown Prep boys, where, she wrote, “A friend from Prep warned me not to go upstairs, where the bedrooms were, cautioning me that it could be dangerous.”

 

The F.B.I. Probe Ignored Testimonies from Former Classmates of Kavanaugh

Deborah Ramirez, one of the women who has accused Kavanaugh of sexual abuse, said in an interview that she had been hopeful that her story would be investigated when two agents drove from Denver to Boulder, Colorado, last weekend to interview her at her lawyer’s office. But Ramirez said that she was troubled by what she perceived as a lack of willingness on the part of the Bureau to take steps to substantiate her claims. “I am very alarmed: first, that I was denied an F.B.I. investigation for five days, and then, when one was granted, that it was given on a short timeline and that the people who were key to corroborating my story have not been contacted,” Ramirez said. “I feel like I’m being silenced.”

.. Several former Yale students who claim to have information regarding the alleged incident with Ramirez or about Kavanaugh’s behavior at Yale said that they had not been contacted by the F.B.I. Kenneth G. Appold was a suitemate of Kavanaugh’s at the time of the alleged incident.

.. Appold, who is the James Hastings Nichols Professor of Reformation History at Princeton Theological Seminary, said that he first heard about the alleged incident involving Kavanaugh and Ramirez either the night it occurred or a day or two later. Appold said that he was “one-hundred-per-cent certain” that he was told that Kavanaugh was the male student who exposed himself to Ramirez. He said that he never discussed the allegation with Ramirez, whom he said he barely knew in college. But he recalled details—which, he said, an eyewitness described to him at the time—that match Ramirez’s memory of what happened. “I can corroborate Debbie’s account,” he said in an interview. “I believe her because it matches the same story I heard thirty-five years ago, although the two of us have never talked.”

Nation’s Criminals Ask for F.B.I. Investigation Kavanaugh Just Got

In the latest controversy to envelop the Supreme Court nominee, criminals across the United States are demanding that their cases receive the kind of F.B.I. investigation that Brett Kavanaugh just got.

From coast to coast, perpetrators of crimes ranging from arson to bank robbery are arguing that, if the F.B.I. investigates them at all, such investigations should be extremely limited in scope.

Harland Dorrinson, a criminal lawyer in Cleveland, said that his clients have followed the Kavanaugh probe “with great interest” and see it as “tailor-made” for the crimes for which they stand accused.

My clients are asking that the F.B.I. investigate them for no more than five days and only talk to the witnesses I designate,” Dorrinson said. “We think this could be a huge time saver for everybody.”

One of his clients, Denton Faldo, currently faces twenty criminal counts of cooking and selling meth, but wants the F.B.I. to investigate only an unrelated speeding violation.

“It’s important that the F.B.I. wrap up this investigation by Friday and release me from jail in time for the weekend,” Faldo said. “A man’s life is in tatters.”

.. The Republicans, if they stick together, have the necessary votes. A veneer of civility made it seem as if the senators were questioning Ford and Kavanaugh to get to the truth

.. But that’s not what the hearing was designed to explore

.. it should be as plain as day that what we witnessed was the patriarchy testing how far its politics of resentment can go. And there is no limit.

.. “Why suffer through the annihilation if it’s not going to matter?” Ford had told the Washington Post when she first went public

.. With the word “annihilation” she conjured the spectre of Anita Hill

.. Ford’s experience—shaped by the optics of the #MeToo moment, by her whiteness and country-club roots—was different. The Republicans on the committee, likely coached by some consultant, did not overtly smear Ford.

Some pretended, condescendingly, to extend her empathy. Senator Orrin Hatch, who once claimed that Hill had lifted parts of her harassment allegations against Thomas from “The Exorcist,” called Ford “pleasing,” an “attractive” witness.

.. Instead of questioning her directly, the Republicans hired Rachel Mitchell,

Mitchell’s fitful, sometimes aimless questioning did the ugly work of softening the Republican assault on Ford’s testimony. Ford, in any case, was phenomenal, a “witness and expert” in one, and it seemed, for a moment following her testimony, that the nation might be unable to deny her credibility.

.. Then Kavanaugh came in, like an eclipse. He made a show of being unprepared. Echoing Clarence Thomas, he claimed that he did not watch his accuser’s hearing. (Earlier, it was reported that he did.) “I wrote this last night,” he said, of his opening statement. “No one has seen this draft.”

.. Alternating between weeping and yelling, he exemplified the conservative’s embrace of bluster and petulance as rhetorical tools.

.. spinning unbelievably chaste interpretations of what was, by all other accounts, his youthful habit of blatant debauchery

.. he was as Trumpian as Trump himself, louder than the loudest on Fox News. He evaded questions; he said that the allegations brought against him were “revenge” on behalf of the Clintons; he said, menacingly, that “what goes around comes around.” When Senator Amy Klobuchar calmly asked if he had ever gotten blackout drunk, he retorted, “Have you?” (He later apologized to her.)

.. There was, in this performance, not even a hint of the sagacity one expects from a potential Supreme Court Justice.

.. More than presenting a convincing rebuttal to Ford’s extremely credible account, Kavanaugh—and Hatch, and Lindsey Graham—seemed to be exterminating, live, for an American audience, the faint notion that a massively successful white man could have his birthright questioned or his character held to the most basic type of scrutiny.

In the course of Kavanaugh’s hearing, Mitchell basically disappeared. Republican senators apologized to the judge, incessantly, for what he had suffered. There was talk of his reputation being torpedoed and his life being destroyed. This is the nature of the conspiracy against white male power—the forces threatening it will always somehow be thwarted at the last minute.

.. The Ford-Kavanaugh hearing will be remembered for their entrenchment of the worst impulses from that earlier ordeal. What took place on Thursday confirms that male indignation will be coddled, and the gospel of male success elevated. It confirms that there is no fair arena for women’s speech. Mechanisms of accountability will be made irrelevant.

F.B.I. Review of Kavanaugh Was Limited From the Start

The goal of the inquiry, White House officials said, was to look for witnesses who had firsthand accounts of sexual misconduct. The inquiry would not include questions about whether Judge Kavanaugh was frequently drunk or had been misleading in his Senate testimony.

Show How You Feel, Kavanaugh Was Told, and a Nomination Was Saved

When White House aides raised the issue with Judge Kavanaugh, he adamantly denied it and told them he did not even remember her.

.. They did what had never been done in a Supreme Court confirmation and put him on television to be interviewed, choosing Mr. Trump’s favorite network, Fox News.

Judge Kavanaugh, joined by his wife, seemed flat and mechanical as he retreated to the same talking points denying the allegations. Mr. Trump, who styles himself a master of television, thought his nominee came across as weak. Getting the clip of him denying the charges into the media spin cycle was important, but it was not enough.

.. The tide seemed to turn, oddly enough, when a third woman emerged with even more extreme allegations. Michael Avenatti, a brash and media savvy California lawyer who has been careening from one Trump administration brush fire to another, produced a statement from a woman alleging that Judge Kavanaugh in high school attended parties where women were gang raped. The woman, Julie Swetnick, said she was herself gang raped at one such party, though not by the judge.

Senator Charles E. Schumer of New York, the Democratic leader, rushed to the floor to insist that “Judge Kavanaugh should withdraw from consideration.”

Senator Susan Collins of Maine, a key swing Republican, was so troubled that she took a copy of Ms. Swetnick’s statement, highlighted and marked up, to a meeting of Republican committee chairmen. Senator John Cornyn of Texas went through it point by point with her to debunk it.

.. The Republican senators got into a lengthy conversation about Mr. Avenatti and how he could not be trusted and concluded that Ms. Swetnick’s claims did not add up. Why would she as a college student repeatedly go to high school parties where young women were gang raped? No one came forward to corroborate the allegation, and news reports surfaced about past lawsuits in which Ms. Swetnick’s truthfulness was questioned.

“This was a turning point,” said Senator Lindsey Graham, Republican of South Carolina. “That allegation was so over the top, it created a moment that was scary, quite frankly. But that moment was quickly replaced by disgust.

The involvement of Mr. Avenatti, who represents Stephanie Clifford, the former porn star known as Stormy Daniels, particularly galvanized Republicans, reinforcing the idea that the allegations against Judge Kavanaugh were a political setup. One Republican congressional official called Mr. Avenatti’s involvement “manna from heaven.” From the other side, a Democratic congressional official called it “massively unhelpful.”

the notion that Mr. Avenatti tipped the scale was “wishful thinking” by Republicans who were bent on confirming Judge Kavanaugh at all costs.

.. credited Ms. Swetnick’s story with forcing Republicans to request an abbreviated F.B.I. investigation. “If it would have just been Dr. Ford,” he said, “I don’t think the investigation takes place.”

.. But Judge Kavanaugh’s angry outburst rallied Republicans. He went so far in expressing rage that he blamed the allegations on a plot to take “revenge on behalf of the Clintons” and he sharply challenged two of the Democratic senators about their own drinking.

During a break, Mr. McGahn told him he had to dial it back and strike a calmer tone. When he returned to the committee room, Judge Kavanaugh moderated his anger and apologized to one of the senators.

.. When Mr. Durbin asked Judge Kavanaugh to turn around and ask Mr. McGahn to request an F.B.I. investigation into the charges against him, Mr. Graham erupted in a ferocious, finger-wagging lecture. Other Republican senators began channeling their inner Trump and lashing out on Judge Kavanaugh’s behalf as well.

.. Ms. Collins said she would find it hard to vote yes without a sworn statement from Judge Kavanaugh’s friend Mark Judge denying that he saw what Dr. Blasey described.

.. Charles E. Grassley of Iowa, the Judiciary chairman, got a fresh statement from Mr. Judge within three hours to satisfy her.

.. the three joined other Republican senators in Mr. McConnell’s office to discuss what the F.B.I. investigation should look like. The three undecided Republicans settled on four people they wanted to hear from

Ms. Ramirez, Mr. Judge and two others identified by Dr. Blasey as being elsewhere in the house at the time she was allegedly assaulted.

.. That night Mr. Graham went to dinner at Cafe Berlin with Ms. Collins, Mr. Flake and Ms. Murkowski. They discussed whether a limited F.B.I. investigation might assuage them.

The list of four witnesses they selected, however, later struck Democrats as so constrained that they demanded a more expansive investigation. In the end, the F.B.I. interviewed 10 people, but not many others Democrats recommended.

.. Ms. Murkowski was struggling with what to do. She asked the committee staff to question Judge Kavanaugh’s friends about their understanding of terms from his yearbook like “boofing” and “Devil’s Triangle” to see if they matched his.

.. “The tactics that were used completely backfired,” said Mr. McConnell. “Harassing members at their homes, crowding the halls with people acting horribly, the effort to humiliate us really helped me unify my conference. So I want to thank these clowns for all the help they provided.”

.. Less helpful may have been Mr. Trump’s decision to mock Dr. Blasey during a rally in Mississippi

.. White House aides insisted that the president’s outburst fortified Republicans.

.. Trump and other Republicans accused sex-crime victims protesting Kavanaugh as protesters paid by George Soros
.. The GOP Senate whip, Sen. John Cornyn (R-Tex.), called the victims a “mob” and echoed the bogus claim that they were paid protesters. They deny victims’ very existence; they are non-persons — props sent by opponents to ruin a man’s life.
.. Graham snorted that he’d hear what “the lady has to say” and then vote Kavanaugh in.
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) said he’d “plow right through” (more like plow over) Ford’s testimony and confirm Kavanaugh.

Republicans’ defense of Kavanaugh — that Ford and others were props of a left-wing plot and therefore lacked agency of their own — evidences the party’s attitude toward women.

.. You cannot say a party that embraces a deeply misogynistic president who bragged about sexually assaulting women and mocked and taunted a sex-crime victim; accepted a blatantly insufficient investigation of credible sex crimes against women in lieu of a serious one that the White House counsel knew would be disastrous; repeatedly insulted and dismissed sex-crime victims exercising their constitutional rights; has never put a single woman on the Judiciary Committee (and then blames its own female members for being too lazy); and whips up male resentment of female accusers is a party that respects women.

.. What’s worse is that Republicans who would never engage in this cruel and demeaning behavior themselves don’t bat an eye when their party’s leaders do so. Acceptance of Trump’s misogyny — like their rationalization of the president’s overt racism — becomes a necessity for loyal Republicans.

..  One either agrees or ignores or rationalizes such conduct, or one decide it’s a small price to pay (“it” being the humiliation of women) for tax cuts and judges. It’s just words, you know.

.. The Republican Party no longer bothers to conceal its loathing of immigrants, its contempt for a free press, its disdain for the rule of law or its views on women. Indeed, these things now define a party that survives by inflaming white male resentment. Without women to kick around, how would they get their judge on the court or their guys to the polls?

Who Will Pay for the Mess of the Kavanaugh Confirmation? All the Women.

The lawmaker who is likely to lose the most in this mess is Senator Heidi Heitkamp of North Dakota, a red-state Democrat in a tough re-election race against Representative Kevin Cramer, who suggested that he’d vote for Justice Kavanaugh even if he had sexually assaulted Dr. Blasey.

.. Amy Chua, a professor at Yale Law School, became a target of social media scorn when The Guardian reported she told students that it was “not an accident” that Kavanaugh’s clerks “looked like models.” But that didn’t really spur a close look at Justice Kavanaugh’s hiring practices. Instead, Ms. Chua bore the brunt of the firestorm.

.. Ms. Chua and Lisa Blatt, a feminist attorney, have faced enormous pressure to denounce him, with reputational consequences that their male counterparts are unlikely to face.

.. A bigger man than Justice Kavanaugh would have apologized to Renate Schroeder Dolphin for turning her into a high school joke.

A more responsible Senate Judiciary Committee would have taken their claims seriously and demanded a thorough, fair investigation.

And all of us could direct the same energy and opprobrium that we level at moderate women at the men who prejudged the outcome of this process and proceeded accordingly.