Reports: 2 New Kavanaugh Accusers, More GOP Deceptions, Plots

Breaking late Sunday were reports of at least two new sexual misconduct accusers against President Trump's Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh, as well as new details suggesting several GOP propaganda plots to win his confirmation by deceptive and otherwise sinister methods.

The new allegations of misconduct come from Deborah Ramirez, a former Yale College contemporary of the nominee, as reported by The New Yorker magazine writers Ronan Farrow and Jane Mayer. Separately, litigator Michael Avenatti wrote via Twitter that he will make public soon a blockbuster allegation by one or more other accusers, summarized here by the Capitol Hill newspaper Roll Call, albeit with limited detail:

michael avenatti sketch“We are aware of significant evidence of multiple house parties in the Washington, D.C., area during the 1980s” during which Kavanaugh and others “would participate in the targeting of women with alcohol/drugs in order to allow a ‘train’ of men to subsequently gang rape them,” Avenatti wrote.

Avenatti (shown in a portrait) said he would provide additional evidence in the coming days.

Kavanaugh, who has denied any wrongdoing, is shown below at left in a yearbook photo taken during his senior year at Georgetown Prep the same year he began studies at Yale. Critics of the nomination speculate that Republicans have known that more misconduct allegations were coming at him. So, they say, that is  why Senate Republicans fought so hard to prevent a renewed FBI investigation of his background and to hold any new hearing and vote on his nomination on a rushed schedule.

Update on Sept. 24 from the New York Times: Brett Kavanaugh, Facing New Allegations, Vows He Will Not Withdraw by Sheryl Gay Stolberg.

brett kavanaugh 1983 yearbookAlso on Sunday, negotiators for the Senate Judiciary Committee Republican majority and Kavanaugh's first accuser, Dr. Christine Brasey Ford, reached an apparent agreement on the major outlines of her scheduled testimony against the nominee, who is currently a judge on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia after a disputed confirmation in which Democrats accused him of perjury regarding emails stolen from Democratic Senate staffers.

The nominee and his accuser, who is a professor based in California, are now confirmed to speak Thursday of this week before the committee on the same day at separate times.

christine blasey ford headshot croppedMeanwhile, several news outlets were reporting details and speculation about several alleged Republican public relations plots to defend Kavanaugh by planting false or misleading information in the media.

One of the most notable, albeit one so clumsy as to be derided later as "Keystone Cops," involved efforts to smear an innocent prep school classmate of Kavanaugh's with a false suggestion that it was the classmate, not Kavanaugh, who attempt to rape Brasey (the name she uses professionally).

Washington Post opinion columnist Kathleen Parker floated the concept of mistaken identity in a column on Sept. 18, Is there a Kavanaugh doppelganger?

Edward Whelan, president of a conservative think tank called the Ethics and Public Policy Center and a friend of Kavanaugh's, then heavily promoted the idea with the help of the well-connected Republican firm CRC Public Relations. Last week, they named one of Kavanaugh's prep school classmates as the likely suspect in attempting to rape Brasey.

Brasey on Friday thwarted that concept by writing that Whelan, a Harvard Law School graduate, was wrong to make the charge.

Whelan then retracted his claim, apologized and was put on leave of absence by his think tank's board for a month. But critics demanded answers on whether and how this campaign had been coordinated with Kavanaugh, the White House, the Washington Post's Parker and / or financial backers of the Kavanaugh appointment.

djt boris epshteyn sinclair kavanaugh sept 21 2018 Custom 2Among other important developments, President Trump's praised Kavanaugh on Sinclair Broadcasting Corp., as reported by Media Matters in Opinion: In an interview with Sinclair, Trump touts Kavanaugh’s “unblemished record” and says he thinks he will be confirmed.

Trump is shown at left with Sinclair host Boris Epshteyn, a former Trump staffer. Sinclair requires all its stations to carry Epshteyn's commentaries, which nearly always praise or otherwise defer to Trump and other Republicans. Sinclair owns more television stations by far than any other U.S. chain.

The now-chaotic nomination process has prompted revelations affecting all three branches of the federal government, plus the nation's mid-term elections in November and the news media, particularly credibility of specific outlets and their working relationships with sources.

Among many examples of conflict coming to light durign the Kavanaugh confirmation process is that CRC Public Relations loaned a staffer, Garrett Ventry, to the Senate Judiciary Committee's Republican majority to work on the Kavanaugh confirmation even though Ventry been fired from a previous job on a claim of sexual harassment. Ventry has denied wrongdoing but nonetheless resigned over the weekend.

chuck grassley fox disappointed allegationGrassley, meanwhile, has been using his immense powers to thwart on behalf of Kavanaugh the normally routine release of a nominee's documents and an FBI investigation of any claims of wrongdoing that arise during the confirmation process.

As illustrated by the adjoining graphic by Fox News, Grassley, a longtime Republican senator from Iowa, has been working with his PR team to foster the image that he and Kavanaugh are the real victims of any delays caused by questions about the nominee. 

So many developments are occurring that our Justice Integrity Project is chronicling them on a daily basis is several sub-sites that are accessible by buttons on our home page or more directly through the links here:

  • News Reports (Daily compilation of general news reports and commentaries relevant to justice and political matters)
  • #MeToo
  • Media
  • SCOTUS Review (Supreme Court of the United States)
  • Deep State (Propaganda, Assassination, Regime Change) News, Commentary)
  • Trump Watch (Mueller Probe and other investigations)

Keeping Track Of the Muck

djt brett kavanaugh family 7 9 18 Small

President Trump introduces U.S. Circuit Judge Brett Kavanaugh, shown with family, as his nominee to the U.S. Supreme Court on July 9, 2018 (White House photo)

Many of the relevant news reports and commentaries fall into more than one category aside from that of our daily News Reports. Listed below also as a sample are excerpts from the Kavanaugh-related reports from Sunday, Sept. 23 and several other clips cited above.

Although there's obviously too much to cover in this overview even drawing from Kavanaugh developments on that one day, Sept. 23, we note especially three significant developments.

First is the apparent agreement between Grassley and Brasey's representatives on the broad outlines for the now-scheduled Kavanaugh and Brasey testimony on Thursday. Those details were reported by the New York Times, among others, in the Times story Christine Blasey Ford Reaches Deal to Testify at Kavanaugh Hearing by Sheryl Gay Stolberg.

Second is The New Yorker report, Senate Democrats Investigate a New Sexual-Misconduct Allegation Against Brett Kavanaugh, by Ronan Farrow (shown at right) and Jane Mayer. Its subtitle was: Deborah Ramirez, a Yale classmate of the Supreme Court nominee, has described a dormitory party gone awry and a drunken incident that she wants the F.B.I. to investigate.

The report began:

As Senate Republicans press for a swift vote to confirm Brett Kavanaugh, President Trump’s nominee to the Supreme Court, Senate Democrats are investigating a new allegation of sexual misconduct against Kavanaugh. The claim dates to the 1983-84 academic school year, when Kavanaugh was a freshman at Yale University.

deborah ramirez benjamin rasmussen new yorkerThe magazine's report included recollections by classmates who vouched for the credibility of Ramirez, shown at right in a cropped version of a portrait by photographer Benjamin Rasmussen for The New Yorker.

James Roche, now the CEO of a software company, told the magazine, “Debbie and I became close friends shortly after we both arrived at Yale. She stood out as being exceptionally honest and gentle. I cannot imagine her making this up.”

He added, ““Is it believable that she was alone with a wolfy group of guys who thought it was funny to sexually torment a girl like Debbie? Yeah, definitely. Is it believable that Kavanaugh was one of them? Yes.”

Larger Context and Credibility

jane mayer 2008Both of The New Yorker's authors are Yale graduates (albeit not at the same time as Ramirez) and have extensive experience in relevant reporting.

Mayer, shown at left, is the magazine's chief Washington correspondent. She co-authored with former New York Times Executive Editor Jill Abramson the much-praised 1994 book Strange Justice: The Selling of Clarence Thomas. Both that book and her most recent, Dark Money, have focused on the sinister political influence of right-wing billionaire networks, including that centered around the Koch brothers and others who support officials such as judges who will advance pre-determined agendas.

ronan farrowFarrow, shown at right, helped launch the #MeToo era by his revelations of sexual assaults by film mogul Harvey Weinstein in late 2017. The New Yorker and the New York Times, shared a Pulitzer Prize in the public service category for that reporting. Farrow’s subsequent investigations exposed similar allegations against New York Attorney Gen. Eric Schneiderman and CBS Chairman Les Moonves, which led to the resignations of both in 2018, as summarized in a bio.

Also, Farrow has been deeply involved on a more personal level in sexual assault controversies by his advocacy in support his mother and sister in their sexual abuse allegations against his father, film star and director Woody Allen.

Massive Protests

The corportate news media often adopt a highly deferential posture towards the Supreme Court, among other institutions. One manifestation had been rely on official pronouncements regarding the Kavanaugh nomination and provide only fleeting coverage of the massive, unprecedented protests that have been occurring in or near Senate buildings beginning with the start of confirmation hearings.

More than 200 protesters, most of them women, were arrested during the hearing earlier this month even though only about 50 members of the public were allowed in the observers' gallery at any one time. The audience sat about 90 feet from the senators. Television cameras on most networks would briefly show the moment of arrest before several of the dozen or so uniformed police would arrest the screaming protester.

But that coverage provided only a small sense of the unprecedented nature of the massive protests, which have continued Monday with scores of protesters occupying senate halls and the offices of key senators, especially Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Chuck Grassley, the Republican of Iowa who has been a vigorous advocate of confirmation.

Ripple Effects

Among other ripple effects from the Kavanaugh controversies and investigations is enhanced scrutiny regarding #MeToo or similar scandals involving others in politics.

jim knoblachDuring recent days, longtime Minnesota State Rep. Jim Knoblach, right, has resigned after incest allegations by his daughter, as reported here in MN Rep. Jim Knoblach ends campaign ahead of MPR abuse allegations story. He has denied the claims.

Separately, the prominent CNN commentator and married former Trump aide Jason Miller lost his CNN job after claims by A.J. Delgado. She is another former Trump campaign staffer who is the unwed mother of Miller's child conceived during the Trump campaign, as reported here: Ex-Trump staffer Jason Miller out at CNN after abortion allegation.

aj delgado jason millerIn legal papers over a custody battle, she has accused Miller of forcing another girlfriend to abort a child by secretly spiking a drink he brought her. Miller, like Knoblach, has denied wrongdoing. Miller and Delgado are shown at left.

Moreover, several prominent Republican senators, including some running for re-election in November, have disparaged the credibility of Kavanaugh's accuser and those making similar claims.

Such controversies are expected to undercut Republicans and their causes especially even though Democrats, including former Congressman Anthony Weiner and former New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman, have also been involved in major scandals recently.

One special difficulty for Republicans and their allies in the evangelical community, however, is that so many of the Republicans like Trump accused of involvement in sex scandals (or republican elephant logosupporting those who are) also make strenuous claims to "family values" and "right-to-life" policies.

For that reason, some devout anti-abortion conservatives have been fighting Trump as hard as they can behind the scenes in order to protect their long-term anti-abortion and other conservative policies. Some of them are bombarding Republican officials also in a so-far unsuccessful effort to foster GOP opposition to the Kavanaugh nomination for the same reason.

A Look Back and Ahead

With so much news occurring, it may seem remarkable that it was just on Sept,. 16 that Emma Brown of the Washington Post first reported (Writer of confidential Brett Kavanaugh letter speaks out about her allegation of sexual assault) that Dr. Christine Brasey Ford was the name of a woman complaining that Kavanaugh had sexually assaulted her at age 15 and he was 17 at a party. 

Republicans have been confidently predicting nonetheless that the GOP majority on the Judiciary Committee would would approve Kavanaugh's nomination to the Supreme Court without renewing an FBI investigation and no matter what she said if she testifies.

As indicated by the above examples, the revelations regarding the Kavanaugh nomination are likely to continue with consequences far beyond the capacity of any single commentator to summarize. This editor has attended part of the Kavanaugh hearings and has been active also in pursuing news leads with other specialized researchers. But that is not enough.

So, we at the Justice Integrity Project hope that you can avail yourself of our coverage and provide relevant news tips.

Contact the author This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.


Early Reactions To Sept. 23 News Reports

Sept. 25

Vox, The Senate Judiciary Committee scheduled a vote on Kavanaugh even though his accuser hasn’t testified, Li Zhouli, Sept. 25, 2018. The vote’s just one day after a hearing scrutinizing sexual misconduct allegations.

chuck grassley oSenate Judiciary Chair Chuck Grassley (R-IA), right, has rescheduled a committee vote on Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh for this upcoming Friday. That’s just one day after a hearing that will take place on Thursday, which is set to scrutinize sexual misconduct and assault allegations that have been brought against Kavanaugh.

Grassley’s announcement of the committee vote is the latest signal that Republicans are ready to barrel ahead with Kavanaugh’s confirmation, in spite of the recent accusations that have been levied by Christine Blasey Ford and Deborah Ramirez. Ford — who has said that Kavanaugh tried to force himself on her while both of them were in high school — is set to testify, along with Kavanaugh, on Thursday. Kavanaugh has unequivocally denied all of the allegations.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell on Tuesday emphasized that he was eager to hear from Ford — while simultaneously casting doubt on the legitimacy of her allegations.

washington post logoWashington Post, Three Yale Law School classmates who endorsed Kavanaugh call for investigation into sexual misconduct claims, Elise Viebeck, Sept. 25, 2018. Three former Yale Law School classmates who endorsed Supreme Court nominee Brett M. Kavanaugh called Tuesday for an investigation into allegations by two women that he engaged in sexual misconduct in the 1980s.

akhil amar colorKent Sinclair, Douglas Rutzen and Mark Osler were among roughly two dozen of Kavanaugh’s law school classmates who lauded Kavanaugh’s qualifications in an Aug. 27 letter to leaders of the Senate Judiciary Committee.

Their support for an investigation came as Yale Law professor Akhil Amar, right — who taught Kavanaugh and testified on his behalf before the committee this month — also called for a probe into what he described as “serious accusations” from the women.

ny times logoNew York Times, Senator Lisa Murkowski, Republican of Alaska and a key swing vote, delivered a message: Take the Kavanaugh accusations seriously, Nicholas Fandos, Sept. 25, 2018. Republican Party leaders may be insisting that they will install Judge Brett M. Kavanaugh on the Supreme Court, but Senator Lisa lisa murkowski oMurkowski of Alaska is offering a blunt warning of her own: Do not prejudge sexual assault allegations against the nominee that will be aired at an extraordinary public hearing on Thursday.

“We are now in a place where it’s not about whether or not Judge Kavanaugh is qualified,” Ms. Murkowski, right, a key swing Republican vote, said in an extended interview in the Capitol Monday night. “It is about whether or not a woman who has been a victim at some point in her life is to be believed.”

ny times logoNew York Times, Trump Accuses Democrats of Running ‘Con Game’ Against Kavanaugh, Mark Landler and Peter Baker, Sept. 25, 2018. Speaking in New York, President Trump disparaged a woman who accused Judge Brett M. Kavanaugh of exposing himself to her, saying she was “messed up” and “drunk” at the time.

President Donald Trump officialPresident Trump accused Democrats of orchestrating “a con game” against Judge Brett M. Kavanaugh in hopes of blocking his ascension to the Supreme Court and said that one of two women who have accused the nominee of misconduct as a student was “messed up” and “drunk” at the time.

Dispensing again with the restraint that advisers have urged him to exercise, Mr. Trump went beyond defending Judge Kavanaugh into attack mode, saying that Democrats were “making him into something he’s not” as part of a strategy to “delay and obstruct” his confirmation.

“I think it’s horrible what the Democrats have done. It’s a con game,” he said while in New York for the annual session of the United Nations General Assembly. “They’re playing a con game,” the president repeated, and added, “They’re playing actually much better than the Republicans.”

deborah ramirez benjamin rasmussen new yorkerMr. Trump singled out the latest accuser, Deborah Ramirez, right, who said in an interview with The New Yorker that Judge Kavanaugh exposed himself to her during a drinking party at Yale University. “She was totally messed up,” Mr. Trump said. “The second accuser has nothing,” he added. “She admits she was drunk.”

Dispensing again with the restraint that advisers have urged, Mr. Trump went beyond defending Judge Kavanaugh into attack mode.

washington post logoWashington Post, White House open to testimony from second Kavanaugh accuser, Sanders says, John Wagner​, Sept. 25, 2018. Deborah Ramirez alleges that the Supreme Court nominee exposed himself at a party when both were Yale University students.

washington post logoWashington Post, Kavanaugh, in emotional interview on Fox News, says he has no intention of bowing out, Sean Sullivan, Seung Min Kim and John Wagner, Sept. 25, 2018. The nationally televised interview marked a new tactic for Brett M. Kavanaugh, who has mostly avoided media attention since being accused of sexual assault.

washington post logoWashington Post, Analysis: Brett Kavanaugh’s Fox News interview transcript, annotated, Aaron Blake, Sept. 25, 2018 (print edition). Facing multiple accusations of sexual misconduct, Brett Kavanaugh took an unusual step for a Supreme Court nominee on Monday night: Appearing on television. Kavanaugh’s Fox News interview included repeated references to wanting a fair process as he disputes allegations made by Christine Blasey Ford and Deborah Ramirez.

Appearing next to his wife, Ashley Estes Kavanaugh, he also asserted he had never been blackout drunk and that he was a virgin until “many years” after high school. Below is the full transcript, with annotations and analysis in yellow.

ny times logoNew York Times, Opinion: Judge Kavanaugh’s “golden résumé” has turned into a lead weight, our columnist writes, Carl Hulse, Sept. 25, 2018. President Trump thinks Judge Brett M. Kavanaugh has the perfect pedigree for a spot on the Supreme Court.

“They were saying it 10 years ago about him: He was born for the Supreme Court,” Mr. Trump exclaimed over the weekend at a rally in Missouri. “He was born for it. And it’s going to happen.”

At the moment of his nomination, Judge Kavanaugh did truly seem like a test-tube version of a Republican Supreme Court nominee. The right schools. The right friends. The right clerkships. The right mentors. The right White House experience. The right appeals court slot. Republican senators said he might be the most qualified nominee ever. It was all set.

Right up until it wasn’t. Now, with his confirmation in such jeopardy that he felt compelled to defend himself in a Fox News television interview on Monday, some of the glittery inside-the-Beltway aspects of his résumé that made him so appealing to his enthusiastic supporters are putting his ascension to the country’s top court in doubt.

Start with Judge Kavanaugh’s schooling, a period that has given rise to the most serious threat to his confirmation: accusations of sexual misconduct. He is the product of the elite Georgetown Preparatory School just outside Washington, as well as Yale University and Yale Law School, proven incubators of Supreme Court justices. Degrees from those institutions are treated as strong evidence of academic rigor and excellence.

But accusations from two women who say they were subjected to sexual assault by Judge Kavanaugh during his years at the schools have exposed a dark side of such privileged education. “He has a golden résumé, but appears to be a deeply flawed nominee,” said Senator Richard Blumenthal, Democrat of Connecticut, who sits on the Judiciary Committee.

The Intercept, Analysis: How One Senator Cornered Brett Kavanaugh About His Mentor’s Sexually Explicit Emails, Akela Lacy, Ryan Grim, Sept. 25, 2018. Two days from now, Brett Kavanaugh will resume testimony before the Senate Judiciary Committee. As a confirmation vote looms as early as Friday or Saturday, the question of his credibility has never been more critical.

alex kozinski informal wThroughout his confirmation process, Kavanaugh has consistently denied knowledge of his mentor Judge Alex Kozinski’s years of sexual harassment, for which he was finally brought down in December 2017.[The judge, regarded as a feeder to right-wing Supreme Court justice clerkships, is shown in a file photo.]

The news, Kavanaugh told the Senate Judiciary Committee under oath, was a “gut punch.”

Under follow-up questioning from Sens. Mazie Hirono and Chris Coons, Democrats from Hawaii and Delaware respectively, he expanded his denials to include any knowledge of the email list Kozinski used to distribute pornography and off-color jokes to court employees. That denial is crucial, because if it’s false, it demonstrates that Kavanaugh lied about what he knew of Kozinski’s behavior. And that he’s still lying.

And the answer is knowable. Following the hearing, Coons asked Kavanaugh a set of direct written questions that was met with a tellingly vague response.

washington post logoWashington Post, White House hit with one-two punch over Kavanaugh and Rosenstein, Philip Rucker, Ashley Parker and Josh Dawsey, Sept. 25, 2018 (print edition). As President Trump simmers over the “molasses-like” pace of the confirmation of his Supreme Court nominee, officials are also grappling with the uncertain job status of the deputy attorney general.

Sept. 24

Roll Call, Mitch McConnell Reaffirms Vow for Senate to Vote on Kavanaugh, Niels Lesniewski, Sept. 24, 2018. Nothing, it seems, could keep the majority leader from giving the Supreme Court nominee a floor vote. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell has not heard anything that should slow confirmation of Judge Brett Kavanaugh to the Supreme Court, pledging to push ahead.

mitch mcconnell2“Judge Kavanaugh will be confirmed,” McConnell, left, said on the Senate floor. He was echoing comments he made Friday, before revelations of additional accusations of sexual assault were leveled at Kavanaugh on Sunday.

The Kentucky Republican started with a fiery opening speech blasting the handling of allegations against President Donald Trump’s Supreme Court nominee as a “smear campaign” Monday — just a prelude to Thursday’s main event, the hearing where the Senate Judiciary Committee will hear from both Kavanaugh and one of his accusers, Christine Blasey Ford.

Accuser To Air Charge On TV?

Palmer Report, Woman accusing Brett Kavanaugh of “gang rape” is doing a television interview about it, Bill Palmer, Sept. 24, 2018. Even as Deborah Ramirez was stepping forward publicly last night to accuse Brett Kavanaugh of sexual assault at a party, another unidentified woman was accusing Kavanaugh of having participated in several gang rapes. The question has been when or if the second woman would publicly identify herself ahead of this Thursday’s Senate Judiciary Committee hearings on Kavanaugh. Now we have our answer, and it’s a doozy.

The unnamed woman is being represented by attorney Michael Avenatti, who told the Hill on Monday afternoon that she will come out publicly with her accusations within “forty-eight hours” – which means by Wednesday afternoon. Moreover, she’s going to make her accusations against Kavanaugh during an on-camera television interview. The precise time, interviewer, and news outlet haven’t yet been finalized. But this is a remarkable development, particularly considering that Kavanaugh just decided to give an interview to Fox News.

Avenatti has spent the day documenting the email communications he’s had with the Senate Judiciary Committee, and the difficulty he’s had in trying to convince the GOP-controlled committee to allow this woman to testify. So now it looks like she’s going to do things the old fashioned way, by simply doing a television interview.

ny times logoNew York Times, Brett Kavanaugh, Facing New Allegations, Vows He Will Not Withdraw, Sheryl Gay Stolberg, Sept. 24, 2018. Judge Brett M. Kavanaugh, facing mounting allegations of sexual impropriety and growing doubts over his confirmation to the Supreme Court, vowed on Monday to fight the “smears,” saying he will not withdraw his nomination.

“These are smears, pure and simple. And they debase our public discourse,” he wrote in a letter to the senior Republican and Democrat on the Senate Judiciary Committee. “But they are also a threat to any man or woman who wishes to serve our country. Such grotesque and obvious character assassination — if allowed to succeed — will dissuade competent and good people of all political persuasions from service.”

“I will not be intimidated into withdrawing from this process,” he continued. “The coordinated effort to destroy my good name will not drive me out. The vile threats of violence against my family will not drive me out. The last-minute character assassination will not succeed.”

[Read Judge Kavanaugh’s letter.]

washington post logoWashington Post, Trump calls sexual misconduct allegations against Kavanaugh ‘totally political,’ vows to back him ‘all the way,’ John Wagner​, Sept. 24, 2018. White House counselor Kellyanne Conway also weighed in, citing a “vast left-wing conspiracy” against the Supreme Court nominee.

President Trump on Monday dismissed sexual misconduct allegations against Judge Brett M. Kavanaugh as “totally political” and pledged to support his Supreme Court nominee “all the way.”

Trump’s comments, made as he entered United Nations headquarters in New York, were his first since a report Sunday night on a second allegation of sexual misconduct by Kavanaugh, who Trump said is “a man with an unblemished past.”

“There’s a chance that this could be one of the single most unfair, unjust things to happen for a candidate for anything,” Trump told reporters. “For people to come out of the woodwork from 36 years ago and 30 years ago and never mention it, all of a sudden it happens. In my opinion, it’s totally political.”

Protesters against Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh and police gather in the Russell Senate Office Building on Sept. 24, 2018 (ABC News photo by Brad Fulton via Twitter)

Protesters against Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh and police gather in the Russell Senate Office Building on Sept. 24, 2018 (ABC News photo by Brad Fulton via Twitter)

washington post logoWashington Post, 128 arrested after anti-Kavanaugh protest on Capitol Hill, Justin Wm. Moyer, Sept. 24, 2018. Protests Monday against the confirmation of Judge Brett M. Kavanaugh on Capitol Hill ended with 128 arrests, authorities said.

Winnie Wong, a liberal activist and senior adviser to the Women’s March, said one protest began on the steps of the Supreme Court around 8:30 a.m. before moving to the office of Sen. Susan Collins (R-Maine), who some believe can be persuaded to vote against Kavanaugh.

After some demonstrators shared stories of sexual assault, about two dozen were arrested outside Collins’s office, Wong said, before protesters moved on to the office of Sen. Jeff Flake (R-Ariz.), a critic of President Trump who is retiring and is seen by some as another possible “no” vote on the nominee.

The protest eventually moved to the rotunda of the Russell Senate Office Building. Women in Yale University sweatshirts — Kavanaugh attended law school there — shouted, “We believe the women.”

“This is a group effort led by seasoned activists and organizers,” Wong said. “We are close to victory.”

Ady Barkan, an activist who has amyotrophic lateral sclerosis and was among those arrested, said protests would continue until Kavanaugh withdrew. “The fact that we are going to win and that Kavanaugh will not be confirmed is proof of how important it is to always fight even when people say there is no chance of winning,” he said.

republican elephant logoPalmer Report, Opinion: What did they know about Brett Kavanaugh and when did they know it? Bill Palmer, Sept. 24, 2018. This evening we learned, thanks to Ronan Farrow and Jane Mayer of the New Yorker, that unnamed “Senior Republican staffers” became aware last week that their Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh had a second accuser named Deborah Ramirez. We also know that in response, the GOP decided to push harder to advance the confirmation process even more quickly, in the hope of confirming him before Ramirez’s accusations could become public.

It leads to a crucial question: which Republican Senators knew about this, and when did they know it?

Over the past several days we’ve all seen Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Chuck Grassley, as well as committee members Orrin Hatch and Lindsey Graham, publicly try to push Dr. Christine Blasey Ford into testifying as soon as humanly possible. They were demanding she testify on Monday. When she said she couldn’t make it there before Thursday, they then demanded that she testify on Wednesday.

While this was going on, Palmer Report pointed out that the Republicans were so afraid of the Kavanaugh nomination imminently slipping away, they were literally afraid to give Ford one more day; we just didn’t know specifically why. Now we do. Certain Republican Senators knew about Ramirez, and they knew she could go public at any minute, and susan collins lisa murkowski 150x150they were racing against time.

So here’s the question. Did the entire GOP Senate know about Ramirez, or were certain GOP Senators like Grassley and Hatch trying to keep this information from potential “no” votes in their own party, such as Susan Collins and Lisa Murkowski? (The two are shown on the adjoining photos, with Collins at right.)

Vanity Fair, “The Strategy Was to Try and Do Something Really Big”: Trump Wanted to Nuke Rosenstein to Save Kavanaugh’s Bacon, Gabriel Sherman, Sept. 24, 2018. At the beginning of one of the most consequential weeks of Donald Trump’s presidency, an enormous smoke bomb was detonated in the news cycle when Axios, deeply wired in Trump’s West Wing, reported that Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein had resigned.

Quickly, a head-spinning array of conflicting accounts were put forth: had he been fired? Was he heading to the White House to be fired—or was he going to a regularly scheduled meeting? Finally, Sarah Huckabee Sanders brought a measure of clarity by tweeting that whatever was going to happen to Rosenstein would happen on Thursday, when the president returned from New York.

For all the morning’s madness, there may have been an underlying logic. Over the weekend, as Brett Kavanaugh’s prospects appeared increasingly imperiled, Trump faced two tactical options, both of them fraught. One was to cut Kavanaugh loose. But he was also looking for ways to dramatically shift the news cycle away from his embattled Supreme Court nominee. According to a source briefed on Trump’s thinking, Trump decided that firing Rosenstein would knock Kavanaugh out of the news, potentially saving his nomination and Republicans’ chances for keeping the Senate. “The strategy was to try and do something really big,” the source said. The leak about Rosenstein’s resignation could have been the result, and it certainly had the desired effect of driving Kavanaugh out of the news for a few hours.

The confusion surrounding Rosenstein’s tenure may not give Kavanaugh a reprieve. In public, Trump continues to voice support for his embattled Supreme Court nominee, telling reporters at the United Nations earlier this morning that he stands with Kavanaugh “all the way.” But in private, Trump is growing increasingly frustrated by being mired in a deteriorating political situation beyond his control. On Monday morning, a Republican briefed on Trump’s thinking said the president has been considering pulling Kavanaugh’s nomination.

Palmer Report, Opinion: Donald Trump is considering pulling the Brett Kavanaugh nomination, Bill Palmer, Sept. 24, 2018. Over the past sixteen hours, multiple additional women have come forward to accuse Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh of everything from sexual assault to serial gang rape. Even as the accusations continue to become more ugly, and the number of accusers continued to grow, Kavanaugh has released a statement this afternoon insisting that he will not withdraw from the nomination process. But behind the scenes, Donald Trump is saying something rather different.

Earlier today, Palmer Report explained how Trump and his White House managed to manipulate the media cycle by floating a phony story about Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein having resigned or having been fired. This was clearly aimed at distracting the media from the worsening Kavanaugh accusations. After the whole thing rather quickly unraveled, the White House admitted in an official statement that Rosenstein still had his job. Now Vanity Fair is echoing our premise that the phony Rosenstein narrative was indeed a last ditch effort at saving the Kavanaugh nomination – but they have an additional tidbit to go with it.

Here’s the key passage from the Vanity Fair expose: “On Monday morning, a Republican briefed on Trump’s thinking said the president has been considering pulling Kavanaugh’s nomination.” Keep in mind that we wouldn’t be reading a sentence like this unless Trump and/or the Republican in question wanted this out there. So either Trump is already trying to hedge his bets by floating the fact that he’s considering yanking Kavanaugh, or the GOP is trying to nudge Trump into yanking Kavanaugh by revealing that Trump is already considering it.

In any case, if Brett Kavanaugh does end up withdrawing, he’ll continue to publicly insist he’s sticking with the nomination right up until the minute he withdraws. So his denial doesn’t tell us anything, beyond the fact that things have gotten so ugly for him, he felt compelled to issue a denial today.

Palmer Report, Two of Brett Kavanaugh’s defenders withdraw their support, Bill Palmer, Sept. 24, 2018. Now that Deborah Ramirez has become the second Brett Kavanaugh accuser to identify herself by name, it’s prompted two of Kavanaugh’s defenders to withdraw their support. Kavanaugh’s legal team had issued a statement signed by six of his former classmates, all of whom were defending him. But now two of them are making clear that they no longer want anything to do with the statement.

Ronan Farrow revealed just now that Louisa Garry and Dino Ewing, who both signed the statement supporting Brett Kavanaugh, have “approached The New Yorker after the publication of this article and asked that their names be removed from it.” Garry is saying “I cannot dispute Ramirez’s allegations, as I was not present.” Ewing is saying that “I also was not present and therefore am not in a position to directly dispute Ramirez’s account.” So how does this change things?

For one thing, Louisa Garry has been appearing in television commercials in support of the Kavanaugh nomination, so it’s a huge blow that she’s abandoning him. And as Farrow points out in his update, the only people still standing by the pro-Kavanaugh statement are two guys who are accused of having participated in the Kavanaugh-Ramirez incident, the wife of one of the guys, and one other classmate. In other words this “statement of support” is now a lot closer to being a denial from the other people who have been accused.

usa today logoUSA Today, What we know about Deborah Ramirez, the second woman to accuse Kavanaugh of sexual assault, William Cummings, Sept. 24, 2018. A second woman came forward Sunday to accuse Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh of a decades-old sexual assault, the same day his first accuser, Christine Blasey Ford, committed to testifying about her own allegations before the Senate Judiciary Committee on Thursday.

Here's what we know about Kavanaugh's second accuser, Deborah Ramirez, and her allegations:

deborah ramirez benjamin rasmussen new yorkerRamirez (shown at right in a portrait by Benjamin Rasmussen for The New Yorker) alleged in an article in The New Yorker magazine that Kavanaugh exposed himself to her at a party when they were both freshmen at Yale University.

According to Ramirez, she and Kavanaugh were among a small group of students playing a drinking game in a dorm room in the university's Lawrence Hall when the alleged incident occurred. Ramirez said the game quickly led to her intoxication. She recalls being on the floor and slurring her words when she alleges a male student exposed himself and shoved his penis in her face. She said she pushed the man away, touching him in the process.

She alleged she remembered Kavanaugh pulling up his pants and laughing. Ramirez told The New Yorker the incident left her "embarrassed and ashamed and humiliated." Ramirez told The New Yorker that she was initially reluctant to come forward because she was intoxicated when the alleged incident occurred and "her memories contained gaps."

The New Yorker report said that at first she "was reluctant to characterize Kavanaugh’s role in the alleged incident with certainty. After six days of carefully assessing her memories and consulting with her attorney, Ramirez said that she felt confident enough" to come forward.

Ramirez, 53, was raised a "devout Catholic" in Connecticut, according to The New Yorker. She currently lives in Boulder, Colorado.

Ramirez studied sociology and psychology at Yale, where she graduated in 1987, along with Kavanaugh. NBC News reports that she is a board member and volunteer at Safehouse Progressive Alliance for Nonviolence, an organization that helps victims of domestic violence.

Related News Coverage

(Excerpts in reverse chronological order by date)

Sept. 23

Roll Call, Kavanaugh Has Bumpy Week Ahead as Two More Women Come Forward, Todd Ruger, Sen. Dianne Feinstein calls for stop to the confirmation process. Sept. 23, 2018.

michael avenatti sketchMichael Avenatti, the lawyer who rose to fame by aggressively taking on President Donald Trump on behalf of his client Stormy Daniels, tweeted that he had another woman with an allegation who will be demanding that Kavanaugh’s nomination be withdrawn:

“We are aware of significant evidence of multiple house parties in the Washington, D.C., area during the 1980s” during which Kavanaugh and others “would participate in the targeting of women with alcohol/drugs in order to allow a ‘train’ of men to subsequently gang rape them,” Avenatti wrote. Avenatti, left, said he would provide additional evidence in the coming days.

dianne feinsteinSen. Dianne Feinstein of California, right, the committee’s top Democrat, wrote a letter to Grassley on Sunday asking to stop the confirmation process.“

"I also ask that the newest allegations of sexual misconduct be referred to the FBI for investigation, and that you join our request for the White House to direct the FBI to investigate the allegations of Christine Blasey Ford as well as these new claims,” Feinstein said.

Details below.

ny times logoNew York Times, Christine Blasey Ford Reaches Deal to Testify at Kavanaugh Hearing, Sheryl Gay Stolberg, Sept. 23, 2018. The woman who has accused Judge Brett M. Kavanaugh of sexually assaulting her when they were teenagers has committed to testify before the Senate Judiciary Committee on Thursday, her lawyers said on Sunday. The lawyers said some details — including whether an outside lawyer will question her — still needed to be resolved, but that those issues would not impede holding a hearing.

christine blasey ford headshot croppedThe agreement, reached after an hourlong negotiating session Sunday morning between the lawyers and committee aides, is the latest step in a halting process toward a potentially explosive hearing that will pit the woman, Christine Blasey Ford, against Judge Kavanaugh, President Trump’s second nominee to the Supreme Court. On Saturday, the two sides reached a tentative agreement for Dr. Ford, shown right in a file photo, to appear on Thursday.

The on-again, off-again talks — with an appointment to the nation’s highest court in the balance — have consumed official Washington, and thrown confirmation proceedings for Judge Kavanaugh, who has vigorously denied Dr. Ford’s allegations, into turmoil. Until last week, Judge Kavanaugh’s confirmation seemed all but assured; that is no longer the case.

The New Yorker, Senate Democrats Investigate a New Sexual-Misconduct Allegation Against Brett Kavanaugh, Ronan Farrow (shown at right) and Jane Mayer, Sept. 23, 2018. Deborah Ramirez, a Yale new yorker logoclassmate of the Supreme Court nominee, has described a dormitory party gone awry and a drunken incident that she wants the F.B.I. to investigate.

As Senate Republicans press for a swift vote to confirm Brett Kavanaugh, President Trump’s nominee to the Supreme Court, Senate Democrats are investigating a new allegation of sexual misconduct against Kavanaugh. The claim dates to the 1983-84 academic school year, when Kavanaugh (shown in his prep school yearbook photo as a senior) was a freshman at Yale University.

brett kavanaugh 1983 yearbookThe offices of at least four Democratic senators have received information about the allegation, and at least two have begun investigating it. Senior Republican staffers also learned of the allegation last week and, in conversations with The New Yorker, expressed concern about its potential impact on Kavanaugh’s nomination. Soon after, Senate Republicans issued renewed calls to accelerate the timing of a committee vote. The Democratic Senate offices reviewing the allegations believe that they merit further investigation.

The woman at the center of the story, Deborah Ramirez, who is fifty-three, attended Yale with Kavanaugh, where she studied sociology and psychology. Later, she spent years working for an organization that supports victims of domestic violence.

The New Yorker contacted Ramirez after learning of her possible involvement in an incident involving Kavanaugh. For Ramirez, the sudden attention has been unwelcome, and prompted difficult choices.

After six days of carefully assessing her memories and consulting with her attorney, Ramirez said that she felt confident enough of her recollections to say that she remembers Kavanaugh had exposed himself at a drunken dormitory party, thrust his penis in her face, and caused her to touch it without her consent as she pushed him away. Ramirez is now calling for the F.B.I. to investigate Kavanaugh’s role in the incident. “I would think an F.B.I. investigation would be warranted,” she said.

Palmer Report, Opinion: Deborah Ramirez accuses Brett Kavanaugh of sexual misconduct – and a third accuser is on the way, Bill Palmer, Sept. 23, 2018. Deborah Ramirez is accusing Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh of sexual misconduct toward her when they were students at Yale, in a new expose published tonight by Ronan Farrow and Jane Mayer in the New Yorker.

This comes shortly after Dr. Christine Blasey Ford formally agreed to testify before the Senate about her attempted rape accusation against Kavanaugh. And in a sign that the floodgates are open, a third woman is now also seeking to testify to the Senate about Kavanaugh.

michael avenatti sketchYesterday, Michael Avenatti, shown at right, hinted that additional accusers were about to come forward against Kavanaugh. This evening he tweeted that he had retained an unnamed woman as a client, and that she wanted to testify to the Senate about Kavanaugh. When the New Yorker story broke tonight, many observers mistakenly assumed that this was what Avenatti was talking about. But then Avenatti tweeted that his client is not Ramirez.

This means we’re talking about three different women coming forward against Brett Kavanaugh – and the night is still young. Does anyone still believe Mitch McConnell’s claim that he has the votes to confirm this guy?

brett kavanaugh fox poll sept 22 2018

fox news logo SmallFox News, Fox News Poll: Record number of voters oppose Kavanaugh nomination, Dana Blanton, Sept. 23, 2018. Voter support for Brett Kavanaugh’s confirmation to the U.S. Supreme Court is down in the wake of Christine Ford’s assault allegations, as more believe her than him.

Currently, 40 percent of voters would confirm Kavanaugh, while 50 percent oppose him, according to a Fox News poll. Last month, views split 45-46 percent (August 19-21).

republican elephant logoThe Intercept, Another Kavanaugh accuser, Ryan Grim, Sept. 23, 2018. Senate Republicans spent the last week pushing Christine Blasey Ford to testify on Monday rather than later in the week, as she had asked for.

We now know that they knew a second allegation, from Brett Kavanaugh’s time at Yale, was coming down the pike, so their bickering about the schedule starts to make a lot more sense.

washington post logoWashington Post, ‘Incredibly frustrated’: Inside the GOP effort to help Kavanaugh survive allegation, Seung Min Kim and Josh Dawsey, Sept. 23, 2018. In mock questioning sessions, Supreme Court nominee Brett M. Kavanaugh refused to answer some questions that he saw as too personal. The tense preparations underscore the monumental stakes of public testimony from Kavanaugh and Christine Blasey Ford, who has accused him of sexual assault. As hearing looms, senators seem unwilling to budge on Kavanaugh.

Just as he did several weeks ago to prepare for his confirmation hearings for the Supreme Court, Brett M. Kavanaugh was back inside a room at the Eisenhower Executive Office Building — again facing questioners readying him for a high-stakes appearance in the Senate.

This time, the questions were much different. An array of White House aides, playing the role of various senators on the Judiciary Committee, quizzed Kavanaugh last week about his sex life and other personal matters in an attempt to prepare him for a hearing that would inevitably be uncomfortable.

washington post logojennifer rubin new headshotWashington Post, Opinion: If Republicans don’t get answers, Democrats will in 2019, Jennifer Rubin, right, Sept. 23, 2018. Whether or not Judge Brett M. Kavanaugh gets confirmed to the Supreme Court, there will be plenty of serious questions about the confirmation process that require answers. Assuming Kavanaugh appears at a hearing this week, Democrats can interrogate him.

Moreover, all of this could be reviewed next year if Democrats win the majority in either house of Congress (and claim the subpoena power).

Democrats may be keen to focus on the apparent skullduggery that transpired. If the inquiry takes place next year, conservative lawyer Ed Whelan, Mark Judge and any other witnesses who should have participated in the process may be called. There is plenty to look into.

• Who came up with the mistaken-identity scheme?

• Who was aware of it?

• Did someone in the White House approve it?

republican elephant logoIf this sounds far-fetched, it is because Republicans took the unbelievable step of pressing forward with a nominee against whom there was a credible claim of sexual assault and decided not to conduct a thorough investigation.

What is truly far-fetched is putting Kavanaugh on the court with witnesses out there who haven’t been interviewed and potential avenues to investigate. There is a reason why we should only put on the court individuals about whom there is no ethical questions whatsoever. The way you insure there are no ethical questions is by completing a thorough investigation. This is a recipe for chaos.

Findings of wrongdoing in the confirmation process itself, if serious enough, are grist for impeachment or professional sanctions. (Only one other Supreme Court justice was impeached, Samuel Chase. He escaped removal in 1805.) There may be other crimes (e.g., witness intimidation, obstruction of justice) committed by third parties or Republicans inside the confirmation process. There may be Senate or White House staff whose conduct warrants their termination.

washington post logoWashington Post, The party of men: Kavanaugh fight risks worsening the GOP’s gender problem, Philip Rucker, Ashley Parker and Robert Costa, Sept. 23, 2018. The moment shows the gulf that has emerged between the parties as they navigate America’s cultural reckoning on sexual assault

The Republican Party’s fight to save President Trump’s embattled Supreme Court nominee amid allegations of sexual assault has surfaced deep anxieties over the hypermasculine mind-set that has come to define the GOP in the nation’s roiling gender debate.

Inside DC

ed whelan croppedPolitico, Ed Whelan taking 'leave of absence' after posting Kavanaugh theory, Quint Forgey, Sept. 23, 2018. The Ethics and Public Policy Center announced Sunday that its president, Ed Whelan, right, “will take a leave of absence” from the conservative Washington think tank after peddling a conspiracy theory on social media last week related to a sexual assault allegation against Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh.

Following a special phone-in meeting of the EPPC board on Friday after Whelan’s Twitter screed, he offered to resign “in light of what he described as an ‘appalling and inexcusable’ error in posting online a series of comments that he has now deleted and for which he promptly publicly apologized,” the organization said in a statement.

The board declined Whelan’s offer to step down permanently, according to the statement, and the EPPC’s vice president, Yuval Levin, “will be in charge” during Whelan’s time away.

“The board will meet in a month to review the situation,” the statement said. Later Sunday, Whelan released a statement of apology. “I apologize deeply and sincerely to all those whom I have harmed by my appalling and inexcusable tweet thread last week — above all, the person whose name I wrongly made public,“ he said.

Referencing Christine Blasey Ford, he added: “I also apologize to victims of sexual assault and to Dr. Ford for these and other tweets that did not address with respectful consideration the difficult question of how to assess allegations of sexual assault. I do not believe that all such allegations must be accepted as true, and I believe further that the usual inquiries into motivation, cognition, memory and other matters that apply to other charges properly apply to these as well. But my tweets did not advance the discussion in a constructive way.“

Whelan became the target of swift bipartisan criticism on Thursday evening after offering an unsubstantiated alternative explanation for Christine Blasey Ford’s accusation that Kavanaugh forced himself on her at a drunken high school party more than three decades ago.

His conjectures, laid out in a series of tweets, included floor plans of the house in which Whelan said the alleged assault may have taken place. It also featured the name and photo of a high school classmate of Kavanaugh’s whom Whelan identified as a potential suspect and posited that Ford may have misremembered as the federal judge.

U.S. Politics

ny times logoNew York Times, Kavanaugh Was Supposed to Be a Midterm Boon for G.O.P. Not Anymore, Jonathan Martin, Sept. 23, 2018. No Republican Senate candidate has been as aggressive in using the Supreme Court nomination of Brett M. Kavanaugh as a political weapon as Josh Hawley, the Missouri attorney general who is in an intensely tight race against Senator Claire McCaskill.

josh hawley missouriA former Supreme Court clerk, Mr. Hawley, right, made his first campaign commercial about control of the court, and he assailed Ms. McCaskill for refusing to say if she would support Judge Kavanaugh. And after the accusation of sexual assault against Judge Kavanaugh last week, Mr. Hawley denounced Democrats for staging an “ambush.”

Yet in Missouri and other politically competitive battleground states, leaders in both parties are increasingly doubtful that Mr. Hawley and other Republicans can wield the Kavanaugh nomination as a cudgel without risking unpredictable repercussions in the midterm elections.

Sept. 22

chuck grassley oNew York Magazine, Aide Who Helped Guide Strategy for Kavanaugh Quits After Sexual Harassment Allegation Revealed, Benjamin Hart, Sept. 22, 2018. Garrett Ventry, a communications aide to Chuck Grassley on the Senate Judiciary Committee, resigned on Saturday morning after NBC News asked him about a sexual harassment allegation in his past.

Ventry, shown on his Twitter photo, had been helping direct the strategy to steer Brett Kavanaugh’s Supreme Court nomination after Christine Ford came forward to accuse him of sexual assault. In addition, Ventry worked at a public-relations firm that was involved in crafting a widely publicized (and mocked) theory that Ford had identified the wrong man 36 years ago. Ventry also resigned from that company on Saturday.

NBC reported that the 29-year-old Ventry had been fired in 2017 from the office of North Carolina House Majority Leader John Bell, where he served as social media adviser:

garrett ventrySources familiar with the situation said Ventry, shown at left in a Twitter photo, was let go from Bell’s office after parts of his résumé were found to have been embellished, and because he faced an accusation of sexual harassment from a female employee of the North Carolina General Assembly’s Republican staff.

There was little further information about the specific allegations. Ventry told NBC, “I deny allegations of misconduct.” In a statement, Judiciary Committee Chairman spokesman Taylor Foy said, “While (Ventry) strongly denies allegations of wrongdoing, he decided to resign to avoid causing any distraction from the work of the committee.”

The spectacle of a Republican staffer on the committee quitting over such allegations would be uncomfortable enough on any given day. But it looks particularly unseemly considering the drama playing out around Kavanaugh and Ford, and given Ventry’s associations beyond the Judiciary Committee.

Sept. 21

Politico, PR firm helped Whelan stoke half-baked Kavanaugh alibi, Eliana Johnson, Sept. 21, 2018. CRC Public Relations, a powerhouse conservative firm, guided Ed Whelan on a bad Twitter adventure.

It turns out that the Keystone Cops detective work by conservative legal activist Ed Whelan — which set Washington abuzz with the promise of exonerating Brett Kavanaugh, only to be met by mockery and then partially retracted — was not his handiwork alone.

CRC Public Relations, the prominent Alexandria, Virginia-based P.R. firm, guided Whelan through his roller-coaster week of Twitter pronouncements that ended in embarrassment and a potential setback for Kavanaugh’s hopes of landing on the high court, according to three sources familiar with their dealings.

republican elephant logoAfter suggesting on Twitter on Tuesday that he had obtained information that would exculpate Kavanaugh from the sexual assault allegation made by Christine Blasey Ford, Whelan worked over the next 48 hours with CRC and its president, Greg Mueller, to stoke the anticipation.

A longtime friend of Kavanaugh’s, Whelan teased his reveal — even as he refused to discuss it with other colleagues and close friends, a half dozen of them said. At the same time, he told them he was absolutely confident the information he had obtained would exculpate the judge.

The hype ping-ponged from Republicans on Capitol Hill to Kavanaugh’s team in the White House, evidence of an extraordinarily successful public relations campaign that ultimately backfired when Whelan’s theory — complete with architectural drawings and an alleged Kavanaugh doppelgänger — landed with a thud on Twitter Thursday evening.

Media News: Sinclair Promos For Kavanaugh?

djt boris epshteyn sinclair kavanaugh sept 21 2018 Custom 2

President Trump sat down for an interview with Sinclair’s chief political analyst, Boris Epshteyn, who reportedly has never disagreed with the president in his commentary (screenshot).

Media Matters, Opinion: In an interview with Sinclair, Trump touts Kavanaugh’s “unblemished record” and says he thinks he will be confirmed, Pam Vogel, Sept. 21, 2018. Sinclair Broadcast Group, the largest owner and operator of local TV stations in the country, regularly broadcasts pro-Trump propaganda segments created by an ex-Trump staffer into the homes of millions of Americans. And now those segments include an interview with President Donald Trump himself, in which he was given a friendly platform to discuss his continued support of Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh despite a report that he committed sexual assault.

The media company’s chief political analyst, Boris Epshteyn, has been producing regular commentary segments, called “Bottom Line With Boris,” for Sinclair for more than a year. Epshteyn had previously worked in the Trump White House on the communications team, after doing stints on the Trump inaugural committee and on the Trump campaign. Epshteyn also served as a Trump media surrogate throughout the campaign and first days of the Trump presidency. Epshteyn is personal friends with the president’s sons Eric and Donald Jr., and he has been spotted at Trump International Hotel multiple times, including with Don Jr. in June. He also may or may not have signed a nondisparagement agreement while he was working on the campaign, which could legally prevent him from criticizing Trump.

For a chief political analyst, Epshteyn offers takes that are notably unoriginal. At best, he regurgitates Trump talking points or touts some vague, imaginary bipartisan ideals that involve being nicer to Trump. At worst, he defends the most upsetting, racist things Trump does. In fact, in a recent interview on a National Review podcast, Epshteyn could not think of a single issue about which he had disagreed with the Trump administration in any of his commentary segments. What’s more: These segments ultimately air on an estimated 100 TV news stations under Sinclair’s control, exploiting the trust people have in their local news.

Given the president’s penchant for granting interviews to sycophants, it was only a matter of time before Trump himself made an appearance on "Bottom Line with Boris."

On September 21, Epshteyn shared the first of what will likely be several must-run segments featuring excerpts from his sit-down with the president. This one is focused on Kavanaugh’s nomination to the Supreme Court and professor Christine Blasey Ford’s account of sexual assault by Kavanaugh when they were both in high school. In the segment, Trump largely repeats broad White House talking points about making sure Ford is heard, and then pivots to touting Kavanaugh’s “unblemished record.” Trump also says he believes Kavanaugh will ultimately still be confirmed.

BORIS EPSHTEYN: The nomination of Judge Brett Kavanaugh to the Supreme Court is facing last-minute turmoil over allegations that he committed sexual assault decades ago. I spoke with President Trump about this in a one-on-one, exclusive interview. Here’s what he shared.


PRESIDENT DONALD TRUMP: Well, I think they’ve been very respectful of Dr. Ford, extremely respectful. I think they’re doing the right thing. They want to give her a voice, if she wants to take it. They’re talking now about timing. It’s already been delayed a week. That’s a long time. This is the U.S. Senate we’re talking about.


TRUMP: I can only say this: Let her speak. But Brett Kavanaugh is one of the finest people you’ll ever meet. I think it’s been extremely hard on him and his family. When I look at what’s happening -- here’s a man with an unblemished record, and to be going through this all of a sudden. So I won’t say anything now. All I’m saying is that -- let it play out. Let her have open voice. And let’s see what happens.

This year, Epshteyn has aired interviews with seven other members of the Trump administration, eight Republican congressmen, and Trump lawyer Rudy Giuliani. The appearances include: then-Rep. Ron DeSantis (R-FL), counselor to the president Kellyanne Conway, Trump lawyer Rudy Giuliani, then-EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt, Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY), House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-CA), White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders, Housing and Urban Development (HUD) Secretary Ben Carson, Rep. Lamar Smith (R-TX), Sen. Bill Cassidy (R-LA), Vice President Mike Pence, Rep. Francis Rooney (R-FL), Sen. Orrin Hatch (R-UT), acting EPA Administrator Andrew Wheeler, Council of Economic Advisers Chair Kevin Hassett, and Rep. Sean Duffy (R-WI). DeSantis, McCarthy, Rooney, and Duffy are all on ballots this year.

washington post logoWashington Post, Kavanaugh accuser open to testifying later next week, dismisses theory of a different attacker, Seung Min Kim, Josh Dawsey and Emma Brown, Sept. 21, 2018 (print edition). A lawyer for Christine Blasey Ford said she “wishes to testify, provided that we can agree on terms that are fair and which ensure her safety.” Brett M. Kavanaugh’s Supreme Court nomination was roiled further by tweets from a friend who named another classmate as Ford’s possible attacker.

Center for American Progress, Opinion: Kavanaugh’s Credibility Chasm, Jake Faleschini and Jesse Lee, Sept. 21, 2018. The Center for American Progress is a left-leaning think tank. Amid a crisis in Judge Brett Kavanaugh’s Supreme Court nomination process, new reports suggest that President Trump’s nominee may have been personally involved in a public relations effort to shift blame for sexual assault allegations made against him onto another specific individual with unsubstantiated speculation from an ally.

This alone would demonstrate a deep breach of integrity and credibility and would be disqualifying in itself for a position on the highest court in the land. Unfortunately, it also aligns with an entire career using dishonest tactics and statements to advance his personal ambition.

In Judge Brett Kavanaugh’s first words on the national stage as a Supreme Court nominee, he made two plainly false statements in quick succession. In a vacuum, they might be dismissed as overly effusive pleasantries; in fact, they were part of a decades-long pattern of defaulting toward deception whenever useful.

“Mr. President, thank you. Throughout this process, I’ve witnessed firsthand your appreciation for the vital role of the American judiciary,” Kavanaugh stated. This immediately stood as a refutation of Trump’s previous nominee Neil Gorsuch, who had in fact condemned Trump’s well-known, ruthless attacks on the judiciary, reportedly leaving Trump outraged. Kavanaugh was making clear there that he would offer no such dissent. In fact, Kavanaugh later refused to echo Gorsuch’s criticism of Trump in his own hearing.

Later in his initial statement, Kavanaugh said, “No president has ever consulted more widely, or talked with more people from more backgrounds, to seek input about a Supreme Court nomination.” Again, this claim is ridiculous on its face and is reminiscent of early Trump Cabinet meetings where attendees would heap superlative praise upon Trump. But it also spoke to a deeper deception: In fact, Trump had explicitly promised to choose his nominee off of a pre-approved list from conservative advocacy groups, a list to which Kavanaugh’s name had mysteriously been added just months before.

More generally, though, Kavanaugh’s statement shows he opts to say what is best in the moment in order to advance his career. This is even if those statements were objectively — even obviously — misleading. However, this is no new tactic for Kavanaugh. As shown below, this has been a hallmark of his entire career.

  • Leaking information for Ken Starr
  • Accessing stolen documents
  • Warrantless wiretapping
  • Judicial Nominations
  • Sexual harassment allegations against Judge Alex Kozinski
  • Roe v. Wade
  • Presidential Power

Kavanaugh began his career as a political operative willing to use whatever deceptive means necessary — from leaking in the special counsel’s office to dealing with stolen documents in court fights while in the White House. Worse than that, though, when he attempted to transition into a career in the judicial branch, he neither changed his ways nor owned up to his past behavior. Instead, he repeatedly misled the Senate about his prior deceptions, from one confirmation hearing to the next.

Kavanaugh may have rightly believed that, with the Senate controlled by other partisan Republicans, lying and misconstruing facts regarding his record would have no consequence. Indeed, Senate Republicans have blocked any review of the vast majority of his record, so this list of false and misleading statements represents only a small portion of the total.

But, as his Supreme Court confirmation process comes to a head — hinging precisely on whether his denials of credible accusations against him should be believed — Kavanaugh’s record of almost casual deception has caught up with him. The American people simply have no reason to believe him.

Sept. 21

Politico, Opinion: Ed Whelan’s Troubles Might Be Just Beginning, John Culhane, Sept. 21, 2018. Ed Whelan, right, may have just crossed a line he can’t jump back over.

ed whelan croppedYesterday, Whelan, the president of the Ethics and & Public Policy Center, a conservative think tank, and an assertive supporter of Brett Kavanaugh’s nomination to the Supreme Court, took to Twitter to lay out a Hardy Boys-inspired scenario, suggesting that Christine Blasey Ford, the woman who accused Kavanaugh of attempted rape in high school, might have been mistaken about the identity of her alleged sexual assaulter.

Using a mash-up of yearbook photos, Zillow information, Google Maps and Facebook, Whelan laid out a “case” that another man, a former classmate of Kavanaugh’s at Georgetown Prep — whom he named and provided a current photograph of — might have been the person Ford has in mind. After his wild theory received widespread criticism, Whelan deleted the tweets, and tried to walk back the accusation this morning.

But, if it’s false, it’s already too late to protect him against a possible defamation claim.

The common law of defamation isn’t that complicated. To be liable, the defendant must make an intentionally or negligently false statement about the plaintiff that tends to cause reputational harm, and harm must actually ensue.

Whelan can’t jump back across the defamation line through his retraction, either. While his mea culpa and tweet deletions will make it harder for people to find the assailant’s identity, it’s not that hard. (It took me exactly four seconds.) In any case, the law is clear that the defamation is actionable once “published” — meaning, made known to at least one other party. Here, of course, the whole Twitter-verse watched, agape, as Whelan pumped out his “what if” account.

 Sept. 18

washington post logokathleen parker twitterWashington Post, Opinion: Is there a Kavanaugh doppelganger? Kathleen Parker (shown on Twitter photo), Sept. 18, 2018. In one of Brett M. Kavanaugh’s responses to allegations that he sexually assaulted a 15-year-old girl when he was in high school, a charge he has denied “categorically and unequivocally,” he suggested that, perhaps, this was a case of mistaken identity.

Sen. Orrin G. Hatch (R-Utah), a member of the Judiciary Committee, reiterated this notion, saying that perhaps the accuser was “mixed up.” And on Tuesday, the Wall Street Journal’s editorial board also floated the possibility of mistaken identity.

As crazy as that sounds, it wouldn’t be unheard of. And, given the high regard in which Kavanaugh has been held throughout his life, including during high school, it would make the most sense. Could there be a Kavanaugh doppelganger?

JIP Editor's note: This column prompted 1.9 thousand reader comments as of Sept. 23, many if not most of them highly critical. Many of the recent commenters alleged that the column may have been coordinated with right-wing think tank president and longtime GOP operative Ed Whelan, a friend of Kavanaugh's, Whelan's public relations company CRC Public Relations and / or the Trump White House to help Kavanaugh by accusing an innocent classmate (whom Whelan and CRC later named) as having attacked Ford at the party. Thus, the first reader comment listed as of Sept. 23 was: "Did Ms. Parker collude with Ed Whelan or CRC Public Relations in writing this article? The reading public wants to know the truth."

Sept. 16

washington post logoWashington Post, Writer of confidential Brett Kavanaugh letter speaks out about her allegation of sexual assault, Emma Brown​, Sept. 16, 2018. Christine Blasey Ford alleges that Kavanaugh attacked her more than three decades ago when they were each in high school, an allegation the Supreme Court nominee has flatly denied.

Earlier this summer, Christine Blasey Ford wrote a confidential letter to a senior Democratic lawmaker alleging that Supreme Court nominee Brett M. Kavanaugh sexually assaulted her more than three decades ago, when they were high school students in suburban Maryland. Since Wednesday, she has watched as that bare-bones version of her story became public without her name or her consent, drawing a blanket denial from Kavanaugh, right, and roiling a nomination that just days ago seemed all but certain to succeed.

Now, Ford has decided that if her story is going to be told, she wants to be the one to tell it.