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Sep 26, 2018

Kavanaugh accuser lines up evidence ahead of hearing I Politico


By Brett Bruen


Brett Kavanaugh
Jockeying over testimony and evidence comes as pressure is growing from President Donald Trump and party leaders on undecided GOP senators to back Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh. | AP Photo/Jacquelyn Martin
Congress
Trump calls Kavanaugh 'a gem’ while the Supreme Court nominee’s accuser gives senators letters her attorneys claim bolster her case.
With the Senate Judiciary Committee preparing for a blockbuster Thursday hearing over sexual assault allegations against Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh, both parties are rushing to build their cases — legally and politically.
Attorneys for Christine Blasey Ford, who alleges that Kavanaugh drunkenly assaulted her in high school, submitted affidavits to the Judiciary Committee from her husband and three friends who said Ford told them of the incident, in some cases several years ago. Ford’s attorney will use the affidavits to support her testimony during Thursday’s session.
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But the Judiciary Committee’s Republicans — who have hired an experienced female sex crimes prosecutor to lead the questioning of Ford and Kavanaugh — have requested a polygraph and therapist’s notes from Ford that were used to underpin her original story in the Washington Post about the 1982 incident. Those materials have yet to be provided to the panel as of Wednesday morning.
Michael Avenatti, the lawyer best known for representing President Donald Trump antagonist Stormy Daniels, also on Wednesday released an affidavit from his previously-unnamed client, Julie Swetnick, alleging that she has witnessed Kavanaugh's involvement in multiple episodes of sexual misconduct. She also alleges that she saw Kavanaugh at parties where girls were sexually assaulted, including herself, but does not allege that Kavanaugh participated in the alleged assaults.
In prepared remarks for Thursday's hearing, Kavanaugh will tell senators that he "categorically and unequivocally" denies that he sexually assaulted Ford when they were both in high school more than 30 years ago and call other accusations against him "smears."
Lawyers for Republicans on the Judiciary panel are reviewing it, according to a committee spokesman.
The White House is not backing down from defending Kavanaugh amid the fresh allegations, according to a source close to Kavanaugh and his team.
Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer called on Republicans to suspend the nomination proceedings and for Kavanaugh to withdraw after the new allegations surfaced.
“I strongly believe Judge Kavanaugh should withdraw from consideration. If he will not, at the very least, the hearing and vote should be postponed while the FBI investigates all of these allegations. If our Republican colleagues proceed without an investigation, it would be a travesty for the honor of the Supreme Court and our country.”
And Deborah Ramirez, who alleges that Kavanaugh exposed himself to her while both were students at Yale University, has declined so far to speak to Judiciary Committee staffers abut that incident. Ramirez’s attorneys told the committee in a Wednesday letter obtained by POLITICO that she wants an FBI inquiry as a first step but is willing to testify in the Senate.
Ramirez’s attorney William Pittard wrote to the committee’s bipartisan leadership that GOP staff “thus far has been refused to even speak with” her counsels and instead “has insisted that Ms. Ramirez first ‘provide her evidence’. Respectfully, that demand misunderstands the process.”
Separately, the Judiciary panel on Wednesday released detailed calendars of Kavanaugh’s activity in spring and summer of 1982, which included references to trips to St. Michael’s, Md., times Kavanaugh was “grounded” and when he went to the beach. There is no explicit reference to the party described by Dr. Ford.
The jockeying over testimony and evidence comes as pressure is growing from President Donald Trump and party leaders on undecided GOP senators to back Kavanaugh.
“I might have pushed it through a lot faster,” Trump said of the Kavanaugh nomination on Wednesday at the United Nations, indicating that he didn’t even think there should have been a hearing to review Ford’s allegations. “I know this particular man, Judge Kavanaugh.... He’s a gem. He’s an absolute gem.”
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) attacked Democrats on Wednesday for declaring that Kavanaugh should not enjoy the presumption of innocence and belittled the strength of the allegations before the Senate: “No corroboration, no supporting evidence before us, just Dr. Ford’s allegations.”
He said that after the committee hears from Ford and Kavanaugh, “then it will be time to vote.”
“I’m anxious for the hearing tomorrow,” said GOP Sen. Jeff Flake of Arizona, the committee’s swing vote. He had not seen the latest allegations, he said.
Judiciary Chairman Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) has already scheduled a committee vote on the nomination for Friday. McConnell is planning on keeping the Senate in this weekend so he can begin the process of bringing Kavanaugh’s nomination up for a final vote early next week.
Vice President Mike Pence will be meeting with Senate GOP conservatives during a Wednesday lunch as well.
Senate Democrats blasted the moves by Grassley and McConnell, accusing the GOP leadership of pre-judging Ford’s testimony before she’d even made it.
“For Republicans to schedule a Friday vote on Brett Kavanaugh today, two days before Dr. Blasey Ford has had a chance to tell her story, is outrageous,” said Sen. Dianne Feinstein (Calif.), top Democrat on Judiciary, in a Monday statement.
“First Republicans demanded Dr. Blasey Ford testify immediately. Now Republicans don’t even need to hear her before they move ahead with a vote.”
Feinstein added: “It’s clear to me that Republicans don’t want this to be a fair process.”
But first comes Thursday’s critical hearing, and that’s shaping up to be an emotionally wrenching moment for the two people directly involved.
The hearing will only offer each senator five minutes each to question Ford, then Kavanaugh. Senators will be able to defer to counsel for their questions if they choose. Democrats had hoped for more time.
The affidavits submitted by Ford state the she did not tell her husband, Russell, about the alleged incident until they both attended a therapy session in 2012.
Since that time, Ford has told other friends about her interactions with Kavanaugh, three of whom submitted statements to the Judiciary Committee.
Adela Gildo-Mazzon, who has been friends with Ford for a decade, told the panel that Ford disclosed the encounter during a June 2013 meal.
“She said that she had been almost raped by someone who was now a federal judge,” wrote Gildo-Mazzon, whose children attend elementary school with Ford’s. “She told me she had been trapped in a room with two drunken guys, and that she then escaped, ran away, and hid.”
Keith Koegler, who says he has known Ford and her husband for more than five years, told the panel that Ford disclosed what happened to while they were “standing together in a public place watching our children play together.”
Koegler said Ford mentioned the assault to him again in an email on June 29, 2018, two days after Justice Anthony Kennedy resigned and before Kavanaugh was picked to take his place.
“She wrote me an email in which she stated that the person who assaulted her in high school was the President’s ‘favorite for SCOTUS,’” Koegler said.
Koegler responded: “I remember you telling me about him, but I don’t remember his name.
Do you mind telling me so I can read about him?” Ford answered back: “Brett Kavanaugh.”
Rebecca White, Ford’s neighbor, said Ford told her of the alleged attack in 2017.
“She then told me that when she was a young teen, she had been sexually assaulted by an older teen,” White said. “I remember her saying that her assailant was now a federal judge.”
Eliana Johnson contributed to this story.