Accusations, denials swirl ahead of Kavanaugh hearing
by Harvest Prude
Posted 9/26/18, 02:11 pm
WASHINGTON—As the Senate Judiciary Committee prepares to vote on the Supreme Court nomination of Brett Kavanaugh on Friday, Christine Blasey Ford sent the committee signed affidavits from four people who claim prior knowledge of Ford’s sexual assault accusation against the nominee, while another woman accused him of facilitating gang rapes at parties.
While none of the affidavits, first reported Wednesday by USA Today, are from eyewitnesses, the documents show Ford named Kavanaugh to two of the witnesses, and the others knew of her accusation of sexual assault more generally. Ford’s husband, Russell Ford, said he first learned of the incident in couples therapy in 2012. A friend, Keith Koegler, said Ford told him in 2016 and mentioned Kavanaugh by name. The others, Adela Gildo-Mazzon and Rebecca White, said they knew the alleged incident happened with someone who “was now a federal judge.”
Attorney Michael Avenatti on Wednesday released on Twitter an affidavit signed by a woman who accuses Kavanaugh, along with his high school classmates, of having had a pattern of aggressive sexual behavior toward women that was often nonconsensual. Julie Swetnick said she was at parties where Kavanaugh and others put drugs or alcohol into punch “to cause girls to lose their inhibitions and their ability to say ‘No.’” She also said that Kavanaugh, his classmate Mark Judge, and others would drug girls so they could be gang-raped. She said that in 1982, she was gang-raped at a party where Kavanaugh was present and that she told two other people shortly afterward. She said she knows of other witnesses who could corroborate her claims.
Swetnick has worked for the U.S. government in the past and currently has active security clearances for the Department of Treasury, U.S. Mint, and Internal Revenue Service. Avenatti also represents Stephanie Clifford, aka Stormy Daniels, a woman who claims an attorney for President Donald Trump paid her before the 2016 presidential election not to talk about an alleged affair she had with Trump.
Avenatti has been in contact with the Judiciary Committee and asked for the nomination to be halted and a full FBI investigation to be conducted.
Senate Republicans announced Wednesday that Arizona prosecutor Rachel Mitchell will question both Kavanaugh and Ford at Thursday’s scheduled hearing. Mitchell has decades of experience prosecuting sex crimes and works with attorneys on cases involving child molestation, sexual assault, and child pornography cases. Committee Chairman Sen. Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa, said he asked Mitchell to “depoliticize the process” and guarantee “the most fair and respectful treatment of the witnesses possible.” In written testimony prepared for the hearing, Kavanaugh categorically denied the sexual assault accusations, saying, “I have never done that to [Ford] or anyone.” He also submitted to the committee the calendar he kept from the summer of 1982, which he says shows he did not attend a party like the one at which Ford said she was assaulted. Meanwhile, a former classmate of Kavanaugh’s contradicted his claim that he remained a virgin for years after high school.
Sen. Lisa Murkowski, R-Alaska, who represents a crucial swing vote in Kavanaugh’s confirmation, warned lawmakers that the accusations should not be pre-judged: “We are now in a place where it’s not about whether or not Judge Kavanaugh is qualified,” she said. “It is about whether or not a woman who has been a victim at some point in her life is to be believed.” On the other side of the aisle, Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., said Kavanaugh should withdraw his nomination.
President Donald Trump has continued to back his nominee, calling the accusations a politically motivated “con game.” While at UN meetings in New York, he praised the Republican response: “They could have pushed it through two and a half weeks ago and you wouldn’t be talking about it right now, which is frankly what I would have preferred, but they didn’t do that.” Trump also criticized Avenatti, calling him “a third rate lawyer who is good at making false accusations, like he did on me and like he is now doing on Judge Brett Kavanaugh.”
The Judiciary Committee scheduled a confirmation vote for Friday at 9:30 a.m., but Grassley said the vote is not certain: “If we’re ready to vote, we will vote. If we aren’t ready, we won’t.” According to regular Senate committee practice, votes have to be scheduled three days in advance.
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Harvest is a reporter for WORLD based in Washington, D.C.