We were college classmates and drinking buddies with Supreme Court nominee Brett M. Kavanaugh. In the past week, all three of us decided separately to respond to questions from the media regarding Brett’s honesty, or lack thereof. In each of our cases, it was his public statements during a Fox News TV interview and his sworn testimony before the Senate Judiciary Committee that prompted us to speak out.
We each asserted that Brett lied to the Senate by stating, under oath, that he never drank to the point of forgetting what he was doing. We said, unequivocally, that each of us, on numerous occasions, had seen Brett stumbling drunk to the point that it would be impossible for him to state with any degree of certainty that he remembered everything that he did when drunk.
.. none of us condemned Brett for his frequent drunkenness. We drank too much in college as well. It is true that Brett acknowledged he sometimes drank “too many beers.” But he also stated that he never drank to the point of blacking out.
.. we felt it our civic duty to speak the truth and say that Brett lied under oath while seeking to become a Supreme Court justice. That is our one and only message, but it is a significant one.
.. No one should be able to lie their way onto the Supreme Court. Honesty is the glue that holds together a society of laws. Lies are the solvent that dissolves those bonds.
.. All of us went to Yale, whose motto is “Lux et Veritas” (Light and Truth). Brett also belonged to a Yale senior secret society called Truth and Courage. We believe that Brett neither tells the former nor embodies the latter. For this reason, we believe that Brett Kavanaugh should not sit on the nation’s highest court.
Stormy Daniels already has a defamation claim against President Trump based in part on his accusation that her story that she was threatened in a parking lot was false. (Trump says the claim of an affair was “false and extortionist.”) Now she has a splendid case.
Accusing someone of a crime is defamation per se, meaning no damages need to be proved. Avenatti will be entitled to depose Trump under oath to ask such nettlesome questions as:
- Did you have sexual relations with my client?
- Did you publicly deny knowledge of a settlement payment on national TV?
- Did you reimburse Michael Cohen for fronting the money?
- Did you break up the payments in monthly installments? Why?
- Have you made other payments to remain silent about adulterous affairs? How many? Did they all extort money from you, in your view? What are their names? How much did you pay out?
.. According to Daniels, Cohen strong-armed her into making a settlement. She, in other words, was the victim of a pressure campaign, not its instigator. Cohen would therefore need to answer questions that parallel inquiries for Trump. One or both might take the 5th — which many Americans would interpret as evidence one or both violated criminal campaign laws.
Avenatti has advantages over Robert S. Mueller III. Avenatti can needle Trump daily on TV, a tactic that already pushed Trump to lie publicly about his knowledge of the settlement. Avenatti can not be fired by Trump. Pursuant to the Paula Jones case, Daniels’s lawyer unquestionably has the right to depose Trump under oath.
There is delicious karma in this happening to Trump, who bludgeoned Hillary Clinton during the campaign for allegedly helping her husband to falsely smear women who accused the philandering president of sexual conduct. We reach karmic overload when we note that Trump has spent a lifetime threatening to and actually filing lawsuits alleging defamation.
In the past, Trump has been careful in his depositions, but since his mode of communication is highly dependent on jaw-dropping hyperbole, gross simplifications and misinformed or misleading assertions, it can’t be a good idea to put him under oath in any circumstance.
.. It also runs counter to the widespread assertion that Trump is “acting guilty,” when he may well be acting like Donald Trump — aggrieved, combative, scornful — when he’s innocent.
At the office of the special counsel, Mueller’s team was reportedly considering having Trump swear on something that was more meaningful to him than the Bible, such as a rolled-up copy of Forbes.
In an impromptu question-and-answer session with reporters at the White House, Trump also spoke about whether he or anyone else sought to obstruct justice in the probe.
“You fight back, oh, it’s obstruction,” Trump said mockingly of his critics.
.. 2. Do Trump’s comments Wednesday mean that an interview will definitely happen?
There’s no guarantee, but what’s clear is Trump wants to be seen as cooperative and be seen to be willing to sit for an interview.
.. FBI interviews are not typically conducted under oath, but it is still a crime to lie to the FBI.
.. And when and if Trump is questioned, he will face the same legal risks whether or not he is under oath.
White House officials viewed the discussion as a sign that Mr. Mueller’s investigation of Mr. Trump could be nearing the end. But even if that is so, allowing prosecutors to interview a sitting president who has a history of hyperbolic or baseless assertions carries legal risk for him.
.. Mr. Mueller appeared most interested in asking questions about the former national security adviser, Michael T. Flynn, and the firing of the F.B.I. director, James B. Comey — not the broader question of possible collusion with Russia.
.. Mr. Trump has sat for depositions before and shown discipline when under oath. His testimony in civil cases reveals a canny ability to avoid being cornered and a frank acknowledgment that he uses “truthful hyperbole” or “innocent exaggeration.” But he has never faced questioning from someone like Mr. Mueller, a veteran prosecutor and former F.B.I. director who has a dozen experienced litigators behind him.
.. “It’s pretty clear when Ty Cobb came in, he tightened up the ship and had a talk with Trump and must have said: ‘You’re O.K. on collusion. Stop attacking Mueller directly.’”
.. Mr. Mueller would almost certainly want to speak directly with Mr. Trump in person. They said Mr. Trump’s lawyers would want to prevent Mr. Mueller from putting Mr. Trump alone before a grand jury, where lawyers normally are not present.
.. Mr. Trump’s lawyers would do all they could to show Mr. Mueller they were cooperating to prevent the special counsel from putting him before the grand jury.