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Aggressive Kavanaugh Portrays Himself as Victim


Judge Brett Kavanaugh learned a lesson from his weak appearance on Fox News last week. Testifying at the September 27 Senate Judiciary Committee hearing on sexual assault allegations leveled against him by Dr. Christine Blasey Ford, Kavanaugh became belligerent and aggressive. Displaying outrage at the process, he portrayed himself as the victim and painted a conspiracy against him by the Democrats, the Clintons and left-wing opposition groups.

The GOP-led Senate is on a fast track to get Kavanaugh confirmed before the November 9 midterm elections. Republican senators have resisted an FBI investigation into allegations that Kavanaugh committed sexual assault against at least three women.

When queried by several Democratic senators, Kavanaugh refused to say he would support an FBI investigation into Ford’s allegations against him.

Following the hearing, the American Bar Association (ABA), which had unanimously rated Kavanaugh “well qualified,” urged the Senate Judiciary Committee to halt the confirmation process until a full FBI investigation into the sexual assault allegations against Kavanaugh can been completed.

“Each appointment to our nation’s Highest Court (as with all others) is simply too important to rush to a vote,” ABA president Robert Carlson wrote in a letter to Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Chuck Grassley and Ranking Democrat Dianne Feinstein. “Deciding to proceed without conducting additional investigation would not only have a lasting impact on the Senate’s reputation, but it will also negatively affect the great trust necessary for the American people to have in the Supreme Court.”

The ABA’s admonition was ignored. Republicans plowed ahead, with the Senate Judiciary Committee voting along party lines to send Kavanaugh’s nomination to the Senate floor. The full Senate is scheduled to vote next week. But Sen. Jeff Flake (R-Arizona) stated he would vote “Yes” on the Senate floor only after an FBI investigation lasting no more than one week on the allegations against Kavanaugh.

Senators Must Decide Who to Believe

In voting whether or not to confirm Kavanaugh to the Supreme Court, senators have to decide who’s telling the truth. Ford said she was 100 percent sure Kavanaugh had assaulted her. Kavanaugh categorically denied assaulting her or anyone else.

Ford’s testimony was found credible by most observers, including many Fox News commentators. Fox News Senior Judicial Analyst Judge Andrew Napolitano said there was agreement that Ford was “exceptionally credible.”

She detailed how a drunk Kavanaugh tried to rape her in high school, covering her mouth when she tried to scream. Ford told the senators “it was hard for me to breathe, and I thought Brett was going to accidentally kill me.” She said her most indelible memory of the assault was Kavanaugh and his friend Mark Judge’s “uproarious laughter” as they assaulted her. Ford reported ongoing anxiety and PTSD as a result of the attack.

Kavanaugh repeatedly misstated the record during his testimony. Each time he was asked if he would support a full FBI investigation, he responded that the four people Ford claimed were present in the house during the assault denied it had happened. In fact, they told Senate investigators they had no recollection of the incident.

Julie Swetnick also reports sexual assault by Kavanaugh. Swetnick, who has worked with several federal agencies, including the Treasury Department, IRS, Defense Department and Department of Homeland Security, wrote in a sworn affidavit, “I also witnessed efforts by Mark Judge, Brett Kavanaugh and others to cause girls to become inebriated and disoriented so they could then be ‘gang-raped’ in a side room or bedroom by a ‘train’ of numerous boys.” Swetnick noted seeing Kavanaugh “pressing girls against him without their consent, ‘grinding’ against girls, and attempting to remove or shift girls’ clothing to expose private body parts.”

A third accuser is Deborah Ramirez, who went to Yale with Kavanaugh. She says Kavanaugh exposed himself to her at a drunken party. He thrust his penis in her face causing her to touch it without consent when she pushed him away.

Sen. Susan Collins (R-Maine) expressed concern that the Senate Judiciary Committee didn’t issue a subpoena for Mark Judge, whose name appears with Kavanaugh in two of the assault allegations. Collins is one of the swing votes on the Kavanaugh nomination.

Kavanaugh’s Hypocritical Outrage

Throughout Thursday’s hearing, Kavanaugh expressed intense anger. Characterizing the two weeks prior to the hearing as “a calculated and orchestrated political hit fueled with apparent pent-up anger about President Trump and the 2016 election,” Kavanaugh charged “revenge on behalf of the Clintons and millions of dollars of money from outside left-wing opposition groups.”

Kavanaugh’s outrage at being accused of sexual misconduct is hypocritical. And his contempt for Bill Clinton goes back at least two decades. During the 1998 investigation of Clinton for the Monica Lewinsky affair, Kavanaugh worked for independent counsel Kenneth Starr. At the time, Kavanaugh advocated asking Clinton explicit and detailed questions about oral sex, masturbation, vaginal stimulation and phone sex.

According to The Washington Post, Kavanaugh “drew up a memo with a series of 10 sexually explicit questions about Clinton’s relationship with Lewinsky. He claimed he wanted to establish Clinton had no defense for his ‘pattern of behavior.’ As a result, ‘[the] idea of going easy on him at the questioning is thus abhorrent to me,’ Kavanaugh wrote in the summer of 1998.”

Two of the questions Kavanaugh wanted Clinton to be asked were, “If Monica Lewinsky says you inserted a cigar into her vagina while you were in the Oval Office area, would she be lying?” and “If Monica Lewinsky says that you masturbated into a trashcan in your secretary’s office, would she [be] lying?”

Clarence Thomas Hearing Redux

During his testimony before the Senate Judiciary Committee, Kavanaugh abandoned all pretense of civility and demonstrated a disturbing judicial temperament – repeatedly yelling, interrupting and verbally attacking Democratic senators.

The Senate Judiciary Committee’s handling of the Kavanaugh confirmation process is reminiscent of the Clarence Thomas hearings, in which Professor Anita Hill’s allegations of sexual harassment were given short shrift.

“That the Senate Judiciary Committee still lacks a protocol for vetting sexual harassment and assault claims that surface during a confirmation hearing suggests that it has learned little from the Thomas hearing, much less the #MeToo movement,” Anita Hill wrote last week in The New York Times.

Marjorie Cohn is professor emerita at Thomas Jefferson School of Law, former president of the National Lawyers Guild, deputy secretary general of the International Association of Democratic Lawyers and an advisory board member of Veterans for Peace. The editor and contributor to The United States and Torture: Legal, Moral, and Geopolitical Issues, Cohn testified before Congress about the Bush interrogation policy.

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