MSNBC says Trump won’t let the FBI probe the laughable allegations of Julie Swetnick, client of creepy lawyer Michael Avenatti:
While the FBI will examine the allegations of Christine Blasey Ford and Deborah Ramirez, the bureau had not been permitted to investigate the claims of Julie Swetnick, who has accused Kavanaugh of engaging in sexual misconduct at parties while he was a student at Georgetown Preparatory School in the 1980s, those people familiar with the investigation told NBC News.
Trump denies it …
NBC News incorrectly reported (as usual) that I was limiting the FBI investigation of Judge Kavanaugh, and witnesses, only to certain people. Actually, I want them to interview whoever they deem appropriate, at their discretion. Please correct your reporting!
Gee, I sure hope the FBI is allowed to waste its time on this patently insane claim. Maybe while they’re at it they can get to the bottom of this:
Julie Swetnick, one of the women accusing Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh of sexual misconduct, faced allegations of her own misconduct during a short stint at a Portland tech company 18 years ago.
. . . .
In the suit, Webtrends alleged Swetnick claimed to have graduated from Johns Hopkins University but the company said it subsequently learned the school had no record of her attendance. Webtrends said she also “falsely described her work experience” at a prior employer.
The suit also alleges Swetnick “engaged in unwelcome, sexually offensive conduct” while at Webtrends and “made false and retaliatory allegations that other co-workers had engaged in inappropriate conduct toward her.”
The suit alleges Swetnick “engaged in unwelcome sexual innuendo and inappropriate conduct” directed at two male employees during a business lunch, with Webtrends customers present. Swetnick claimed two other employees had sexually harassed her, according to the suit.
Allegations in a lawsuit are not evidence and can be completely untrue — take it from me, as someone who has been the target of vindictive lawsuits packed with false claims. Creepy Avenatti points out that the lawsuit was dismissed, and the article does not explain why.
It’s a conundrum. This is why we need the FBI involved! (Rolls eyes.)
It is the nineteenth Sunday after Pentecost. The title of today’s Bach cantata is “Herr, wie du willt, so schicks mit mir” (Lord, as you will, so let it be done with me).
Today’s Gospel reading is Mark 9:38-50 and sounds like an inversion of the famous George W. Bush line about the terrorists:
Whoever Is Not Against Us Is for Us
“Teacher,” said John, “we saw someone driving out demons in your name and we told him to stop, because he was not one of us.”
“Do not stop him,” Jesus said. “For no one who does a miracle in my name can in the next moment say anything bad about me, for whoever is not against us is for us. Truly I tell you, anyone who gives you a cup of water in my name because you belong to the Messiah will certainly not lose their reward.
Causing to Stumble
“If anyone causes one of these little ones — those who believe in me — to stumble, it would be better for them if a large millstone were hung around their neck and they were thrown into the sea. If your hand causes you to stumble, cut it off. It is better for you to enter life maimed than with two hands to go into hell, where the fire never goes out. And if your foot causes you to stumble, cut it off. It is better for you to enter life crippled than to have two feet and be thrown into hell. And if your eye causes you to stumble, pluck it out. It is better for you to enter the kingdom of God with one eye than to have two eyes and be thrown into hell, where
“‘the worms that eat them do not die,
and the fire is not quenched.’
Everyone will be salted with fire.
“Salt is good, but if it loses its saltiness, how can you make it salty again? Have salt among yourselves, and be at peace with each other.”
The text of today’s piece is available here. It contains these words:
Ah, our will remains perverted,
quickly contrary, quickly dashed,
never considering death;
but a Christian, educated in God’s spirit,
teaches itself to sink into God’s will
Lord, as You will,
then squeeze, you pangs of death,
the sobs out of my heart,
if my prayer is only acceptable before You.
Lord, as You will,
then lay my limbs
down in dust and ashes,
this most corrupted image of sin.
Very shortly after Laura Ingraham raised questions about the amount, the campaign announced it was no longer accepting donations. Who knows how many more #ResistanceBucks Ford could have raked in otherwise?
This raises genuine concerns about the incentives that such crowdfunding creates for people to make new claims against Kavanaugh, no matter how incredible. Why would someone come forward with a ridiculous claim like Avenatti’s “rape train” client? Here are 500,000 possible reasons.
In case anyone else needs a break from all things Kavanaugh/Ford, here’s a chance to discuss my favorite thing about fall.
Northwestern is giving Michigan all they can handle in Evanston. Are Jim Harbaugh’s days in Ann Arbor numbered if they don’t beat Ohio State this year?
Speaking of the Buckeyes, they are about to kick off against Penn State in Happy Valley. A great battle between two Top 10 programs. Is the winner on their way to the BCS playoff?
Speaking of two Top 10 programs matching up, Sanford and Notre Dame has just gotten underway in South Bend. After reaching the BCS championship in 2012, is this the year the Irish make another run?
Speaking of past BCS championship participants, is Oregon turning around their luck from last season and back on track to be a Pac-12 North contender? They are at Berkeley going up against undefeated Cal, so we will find out which one of these two squads is the real deal?
Speaking of disappointments in the Pac-12, USC faces Arizona in Tucson tonight. Can the Trojans get back to their winning ways from the end of last season? Will Wildcat quarterback Khalil Tate start showing those flashes of amazing athleticism that we saw last year?
Feel free to discuss games that have already been completed, especially if you want to discuss the 4-0 Colorado Buffaloes.
The actual content? Nothing has changed and she doesn’t remember anything:
Leland Ingham Keyser, a friend of the woman accusing Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh of sexual assault when they were at a party in high school, does not refute the veracity of the allegation, although she does not remember the alleged incident, her lawyer said in a letter to the Senate Judiciary Committee.
The accuser, Christine Blasey Ford, claims that during a party in the early 1980s at which Keyser and several others were present, Kavanaugh drunkenly pushed her into a bedroom, pinned her down and attempted to remove her clothes before she was able to escape. Kavanaugh has vehemently denied the allegation.
“Ms. Keyser does not refute Dr. Ford’s account, and she has already told the press that she believes Dr. Ford’s account,” Keyser’s attorney, Howard Walsh, wrote in the letter, which was sent to the committee overnight Friday. “However, the simple and unchangeable truth is that she is unable to corroborate it because she has no recollection of the incident in question.”
Walsh also said in the letter that Keyser will “cooperate fully” with an FBI investigation into the allegation.
But it doesn’t really matter that a friend doesn’t remember an unspecified incident from 36 years ago, right? I actually thought that, before the testimony. Now? I’m not so sure:
Who would remember that time you were in a dead quiet room with 3 (or 4 – new version!) drunk older boys and a close friend, your friend went upstairs with two of them, music blasted, boys "pinballed" loudly down the stairs, and shortly after your friend ran out without a word? https://t.co/MqgphpJlCP
Regardless of how it’s phrased by the Feinstein-referred lawyers who apparently didn’t even tell Ford about the offer to interview her privately in California…the real takeaway here, CNN, is not that the friend doesn’t refute Ford. It’s that the friend does not corroborate Ford.
That’s your headline. Or, it would be if you weren’t partisan hacks.
I don’t think this is much of a surprise. Flake saw the same thing most of us saw yesterday: that absent the testimonial performances, there was zero corroborating evidence to support the allegation we saw aired yesterday. It’s not a sufficient reason to deny a good man a seat on the Supreme Court. If it were that easy, we’d never get a seat again. If you look at the nonsense coming out of the woodwork, it’s obvious that there will always be some non-credible people willing to make accusations like this.
Here’s Flake getting yowled at and having his trip to the vote impeded by alleged sexual assault victims forming a mob. Look at me when I’m screaming at you!
UPDATE: The vote has been approved by a partisan vote. Flake as well. But Flake has said he has agreed with Democrats that the floor vote will be delayed for a week to let the FBI look into this. As a technical matter that does not appear required by the vote just taken, but as a practical matter I think Flake just made it happen.
Just trying to encapsulate the slow news day with some opinion from the right regarding what went on today on Capitol Hill. I’m frankly not interested in the left’s take on events as the vast majority of them have approached this whole confirmation imbroglio in bad faith, but if you come across anything reasonable from our ideological opponents you are welcome to post it in the comments.
Over at National Review, Rich Lowry is dismayed at the kid-gloves handling of Professor Ford:
Christine Blasey Ford was compelling and sympathetic. Clearly, she sincerely believes her account. But that doesn’t mean it’s correct. She very well could be mistaken about a long-ago memory, which is why Republicans needed to draw out the gaps in her story, walk through how others contradict her, and highlight the complete lack of corroborating evidence. The designated questioner, Rachel Mitchell, failed to do this effectively at all.
But he was heartened by Judge Kavanaugh’s strong defense of his character:
It was tremendous, a rhetorical tour de force. It was personal, detailed, persuasive, and moving. A lot of commentary is focusing on his anger — but if he’s innocent, he has every right to be furious, indeed should be furious. [. . .] [H]e managed to buttress his credibility and question hers, without seeming nasty or dismissive.
Powerline’s Scott Johnson, like Rich Lowry, didn’t think the GOP came armed for battle with the devious Dems:
The Democrats play to win and have a unity that eludes Republicans. They are unconstrained by norms of decency or by the otherwise applicable rules. The game they are playing is transparent. As Bob Dylan might put it, she’s only a pawn in their game.
I have no idea what the attorney questioning Ford on behalf of Republicans. She made a point or two and may have made others I missed. The point of many questions was not apparent to me. She seemed worse than ineffectual.
Judge Kavanaugh took the opportunity of his statement to defend his life. It took him 35 years to build his reputation. The Democrats have destroyed it. They have taken away a good share of his life. He responded entirely appropriately while proclaiming his innocence of the charge and making out the wrong done to him by the Democrats. He drew on his 1982 calendar to go a long way to refute the allegation raised against him by Christine Blasey Ford. He addressed facts and cited corroborative testimony.
Writing at Fox News, Andy McCarthy also frets that the GOP questioning of Professor Ford didn’t go very well:
Democratic senators were pointed in their questions and speechifying. Republicans were ostentatiously deferential to Ford, while the hearing format guaranteed that their approach lacked continuity and focused questioning. In fact, at the end of the testimony, [GOP counsel Rachel] Mitchell laughed with Ford, commiserating with her about how bad the hearing format was. All of this strengthened Ford’s standing and made her a more sympathetic figure.
Also at NR, David French reminds us that despite Prof. Ford’s forceful testimony, she introduced no new evidence in the case to buttress her shocking claims:
The evidence is no stronger this afternoon than it was before Dr. Ford testified. When this controversy began, I said that her claims were serious enough that, if true, Kavanaugh should not be confirmed. Further, I said that that she should only have to carry the lowest burden of proof — to establish that her claims were more likely than not. If you step back, look at the totality of the evidence and consider that she has brought no new evidence to the committee, I still don’t believe she has met that minimal burden.
Before the testimony even began, Thomas Wheatly at The Federalistmade the point that we can’t let emotion overcome logic:
Empathy’s acolytes tell us that when a person has been harmed or experienced an injustice, the moral imperative–at all costs–is to rectify that injustice and ameliorate the harm. One must not be distracted by any fallout from secondary and tertiary concerns, because the immediate harm, by virtue of its vividness, deserves our our unfettered emotional investment. [. . .]
The Kavanaugh fight cannot and should not be solved by putting ourselves in others’ shoes. Reason, not empathy, is what is needed. And reason says this: There is not enough evidence in the public domain at this time to clearly settle this issue. More information is needed. [. . .]
Lindsey Graham appears to be playing the same role for Judge Kavanaugh that Arlen Specter played for Clarence Thomas 27 years ago, that of the GOP “moderate” who rouses his inner conservative in order to protect a man who he thinks is being unfairly railroaded. At NR, Jack Crowe recaps Senator Graham’s remarks and embeds the video. If you want to see a great example of the partisan divide in our country, run search for “Lindsey Graham” and then click over to News and check out the attaboys from the right juxtaposed to the “my God, the man is off his rocker” reaction from the left.
A lot of the real hot takes these days are of course on Twitter, but I have avoided that particular opinion portal today and I think I will do so for the rest of the week through the weekend. There’s no need to plow through all of the noise that it going to be trapped there.
Here’s my take: Professor Ford’s testimony and Judge Kavanaugh’s testimony in a perfect world ought to be a wash, but in this era of #MeToo certitude I will bet that she will come out slightly the better in public opinion. But I also have believed all along that it doesn’t matter one whit. Despite all of this grandstanding and caterwauling we are exactly at the same place we were the day after Professor Ford’s accusations were first made public: Can the GOP get 50 votes for his confirmation and have Vice-President Pence cast the tiebreaker? I think the Democrats have succeeded in taking Senators Manchin, Donnelly, Heitkamp, McCaskill, Nelson, and Tester off the hook in terms of being able to vote against him without hurting their reelection chances.
It now comes down to the potential jellyfishes on the GOP side:
Susan Collins seems to have bonded with Judge Kavanaugh during their interview earlier, as she immediately afterwards announced that she was satisfied with him as a judge. Does she have the sand to continue with her support?
Bob Corker wasn’t originally someone who was thought to be wavering, but he was adamant that the hearings be reopened and more evidence collected. Has he been satisfied?
Jeff Flake also made a big show of “she must be heard,” so does he now fall on the no-new-evidence-has-been-presented-side or the credible-is-damn-near-the-same-as proven side? Does he hate Trump so much that he wants to poke him in the eye one last time on his way out? The late John McCain had praised Judge Kavanaugh at the time of his nomination, and despite his own tendency to grandstand one can see Sen. McCain taking a very dim view of how these proceedings have unfolded. Does Flake honor his late colleague by remaining a judicial conservative?
I don’t know what to make of Lisa Murkowski. Because she’s from a notoriously corrupt family political machine I never know if she sees this vote as an opportunity to burnish her GOP credentials or an opportunity to win some plaudits from the left and establish her maverick streak. You will recall that the state GOP in Alaska tried to oust her from her seat by nominating someone else, only to have her run and win as a write-in candidate. She therefore might feel that she owes the GOP nothing. My thinking is that her vote might be the shakiest of all.
It’s sad what we have become, and Democrats will rue the day that they determined that this was the way to defeat nominees. I can’t wait until Kamala Harris is called upon to explain why it’s OK to use a corrupt, aging sugar daddy to launch her political career.
UPDATE BY PATTERICO: I listened to the beginning of the hearing on my drive in to work today. I guess I sound like I am saying “Me Too” (no pun intended) when I write what I write here, since I was working all day and had no chance to opine, but you can see my immediate take from these contemporaneous tweets:
So far it’s a detailed recitation of her memory interspersed with Democrat grandstanding.
You don’t hire a sex crimes prosecutor to attack an alleged victim of sex crimes. You hire a sex crimes prosecutor to allow an alleged victim of sex crimes to present her story as clearly and sympathetically as possible. And that’s what happened this morning. When I heard Blasey Ford admit that she had talked to her good friend about the incident, the prosecutor simply thanked Ford for the correction and moved on. I was screaming questions at the radio. Is this is the same friend who already told the world she has no idea what you’re talking about? Did she say anything different to you? Etc.
When I got to work I made a friendly bet with a colleague that Trump would withdraw the nomination. I was convinced Kavanaugh was toast.
Then, during a drive to the coroner’s office for a meeting with a Deputy Medical Examiner, I heard a good chunk of Kavanaugh’s opening statement. It was passionate and full of the sort of fantastic evidence that Republicans were too weak to bring up themselves this morning. Finally Republican Senators seemed energized, and I realized with relief that I was going to lose the bet with my colleague.
He’s not out of the woods, with his fate in the hands of the likes of Susan Collins. But Republicans finished the day a lot stronger than they started it.
UPDATE x2: WTF I love Lindsey Graham now.
UPDATE x3 (JVW): Thanks to Patterico for providing the Graham video. There is another version over at The Federalist (it won’t allow me to embed it here) which has a camera angle in which they pan over at the 1:01 mark to show Feinstein, Durbin, and Leahy with kind of hang-dog looks on their faces. Leahy actually turns away from Graham during the Senator’s philippic. It’s marvelous.
Nothing much happening today. What’s on your mind?
Oh: if you’re going to be following the whole “did our Supreme Court nominee facilitate chain rape and commit sexual assault?” hearing, here are a couple of tidbits.
Not to pull an Ed Whelan on you, but maybe it was these guys who attacked Ford?
The Senate Judiciary Committee has interviewed two men this week who say that they, not Supreme Court justice nominee Brett Kavanaugh, were involved in the sexual assault that Dr. Christine Blasey Ford alleged happened in the summer of 1982.
Then again, maybe not:
The news was included in a timeline released Wednesday evening by the committee, and it is unclear how seriously the committee is taking the claims. Republican South Carolina Sen. Lindsey Graham called one of the men “crazy as a loon” when asked about the claims Thursday morning on “Fox & Friends.”
I hear that Sen. Mazie Hirono said on CNN that she is Very Upset that “shadow people” are claiming credit. Because if there’s one thing that shouldn’t affect this process, it’s anonymous accusations from shadow people who might be lunatics. OH BY THE WAY DID YOU HEAR ABOUT THE NEW ACCUSATION AGAINST BRETT KAVANAUGH?!?!?!?
Kavanaugh's latest accuser, who claims Kavanaugh raped someone on a boat in 1985, repeatedly called for a military coup against Trump and said the president was guilty of "manslaughter." https://t.co/rsdIm7SqrM
Oh, and as for the creepy porn lawyer’s client? There’s this:
Julie Swetnick, the woman who accused Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh and a friend of attending house parties where women — including herself — were sexually assaulted, had a restraining order filed against her years later in Miami by her former boyfriend.
A Miami-Dade County court docket shows a petition for injunction against Swetnick was filed March 1, 2001, by her former boyfriend, Richard Vinneccy, who told POLITICO Wednesday the two had dated for four years before they broke up.
Thirteen days later, the case was dismissed, not long after an affidavit of non-ability to advance fees was filed.
According to Vinneccy, Swetnick threatened him after they broke up and even after he got married to his current wife and had a child.
“Right after I broke up with her, she was threatening my family, threatening my wife and threatening to do harm to my baby at that time,” Vinneccy said in a telephone interview with POLITICO. “I know a lot about her.”
“She’s not credible at all,” he said. “Not at all.”
Vinneccy is a victim. Believe victims!
Enjoy today’s shenanigans! And always remember: we have to delay and investigate some more! It’s the Democrat way.
“I am not questioning and have not questioned that perhaps Dr. Ford at some point in her life was sexually assaulted by someone at some place,” he added. “But what I know is, I’ve never sexually assaulted anyone.”
The committee has interviewed two men who came forward about the disputed assault at a summer house party. Both told the committee they, not Kavanaugh, “had the encounter with Dr. Ford in 1982 that is the basis of his complaint,” the release states.
One of the men was interviewed twice by committee staff. He also submitted two written statements, one on Monday and a second, more in-depth statement on Wednesday.
Committee staff spoke to a second man over the phone Wednesday who also said he believed he, not Kavanaugh, had the disputed encounter with Ford. “He explained his recollection of the details of the encounter” to staff, the release states.
“Republicans are flailing,” the aide said, according to NBC News. “They are desperately trying to muddy the waters. … Twelve hours before the hearing they suggest two anonymous men claimed to have assaulted her. Democrats were never informed of these assertions in interviews, in violation of Senate rules.”
A third accuser has come forward to accuse Brett Kavanaugh of sexual misconduct, saying “he was physically abusive toward girls in high school and present at a house party in 1982 where she says she was the victim of a “gang” rape.” Michael Avenatti is representing the woman, Julie Swetnick. I’m quoting from the Washington Post’s report about the claims, but with this caveat, per the Washington Post:
The Post has not independently verified her allegations regarding President Trump’s Supreme Court nominee.
Not a judgment on the underlying claims, but worth noting that unlike the first two allegations against Kavanaugh, this one is not coming through a news story that was reported out and vetted by journalists.
(Which is amusing in that Kavanaugh himself was vetted six times by the FBI and yet, here we are…)
Perhaps the biggest caution is that this latest allegation involves Michael Avenatti.
Anyway, make of it what you will:
In a declaration, Julie Swetnick, who attended Gaithersburg High School, said she observed Kavanaugh drinking excessively at house parties and engaging “in abusive and physically aggressive behavior toward girls.”
Swetnick said she witnessed efforts by Kavanaugh and others to get girls inebriated so they could be “gang raped” in side rooms at house parties by a “train” of numerous boys.
“I have a firm recollection of seeing boys lined up outside rooms at many of these parties waiting for their ‘turn’ with a girl inside the room. These boys included Mark Judge and Brett Kavanaugh.”
In her declaration, Swetnick recounts an alleged incident in approximately 1982 in which she says she was the victim of a “gang rape” at which Kavanaugh was present.
She does not say Kavanaugh participated in the alleged rape or what, if any, role he played, nor does she say where the alleged episode took place.
“During the incident, I was incapacitated without my consent and unable to fight off the boys raping me,” Swetnick says. “I believe I was drugged using Quaaludes or something similar placed in what I was drinking.”
Here is the affidavit:
Below is my correspondence to Mr. Davis of moments ago, together with a sworn declaration from my client. We demand an immediate FBI investigation into the allegations. Under no circumstances should Brett Kavanaugh be confirmed absent a full and complete investigation. pic.twitter.com/QHbHBbbfbE
“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. I have firm recollection of seeing boys lined up outside rooms at many of these parties waiting their “turn” with a girl inside the room. These boys included Mark Judge and Brett Kavanaugh.”
In 1982, I became the victim of one of these “gang” or “train” rapes where Mark Judge and Brett Kavanaugh were present. Shortly after the incident, I shared what had transpired with at least two other people. During the incident, I was incapacitated without my consent and unable to fight off the boys who were raping me. I believe I was drugged using Quaaludes or something similar placed in what I was drinking.
This is ridiculous and from the Twilight Zone. I don’t know who this is and this never happened,”
A couple of points: If you read the affidavit, Swetnick said she attended “over ten house parties” during 1981-1982 where these alleged “gang rapes” were taking place. It doesn’t seem reasonable that a young woman who was upset by what was happening would not only continue to go to parties where “gang rapes” were happening, but also apparently never notified the authorities or any other adults about it. If girls were being regularly victimized, she just let it go on without saying anything to anyone, or without at least warning the “especially vulnerable” or “shy” girls? While I understand an individual being reluctant, or even so traumatized as to be unable to report her own attack, it doesn’t make sense that Swetnick would not, at the very least, step in to protect other girls from having this happen to them. Even anonymously contacting the authorities. Also, by virtue of her statement, if it’s true, just how many victims and assailants are out there?
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