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A Sexual-Misconduct Allegation Against Brett Kavanaugh Stirs Tension Among Democrats in Congress
Written by <a href="index.php?option=com_comprofiler&task=userProfile&user=49127"><span class="small">Ronan Farrow and Jane Mayer, The New Yorker</span></a>   
Saturday, 15 September 2018 08:17

Excerpt: "On Thursday, Senate Democrats disclosed that they had referred a complaint regarding President Trump's Supreme Court nominee, Judge Brett Kavanaugh, to the F.B.I. for investigation."

Brett Kavanaugh. (photo: Erin Schaff/NYT)
Brett Kavanaugh. (photo: Erin Schaff/NYT)

A Sexual-Misconduct Allegation Against Brett Kavanaugh Stirs Tension Among Democrats in Congress

By Ronan Farrow and Jane Mayer, The New Yorker

15 September 18


n Thursday, Senate Democrats disclosed that they had referred a complaint regarding President Trump’s Supreme Court nominee, Judge Brett Kavanaugh, to the F.B.I. for investigation. The complaint came from a woman who accused Kavanaugh of sexual misconduct when they were both in high school, more than thirty years ago.

The woman, who has asked not to be identified, first approached Democratic lawmakers in July, shortly after Trump nominated Kavanaugh. The allegation dates back to the early nineteen-eighties, when Kavanaugh was a high-school student at Georgetown Preparatory School, in Bethesda, Maryland, and the woman attended a nearby high school. In the letter, the woman alleged that, during an encounter at a party, Kavanaugh held her down, and that he attempted to force himself on her. She claimed in the letter that Kavanaugh and a classmate of his, both of whom had been drinking, turned up music that was playing in the room to conceal the sound of her protests, and that Kavanaugh covered her mouth with his hand. She was able to free herself. Although the alleged incident took place decades ago and the three individuals involved were minors, the woman said that the memory had been a source of ongoing distress for her, and that she had sought psychological treatment as a result.

In a statement, Kavanaugh said, “I categorically and unequivocally deny this allegation. I did not do this back in high school or at any time.”

Kavanaugh’s classmate said of the woman’s allegation, “I have no recollection of that.”

The woman declined a request for an interview.

In recent months, the woman had told friends that Kavanaugh’s nomination had revived the pain of the memory, and that she was grappling with whether to go public with her story. She contacted her congresswoman, Anna Eshoo, a Democrat, sending her a letter describing her allegation. (When reached for comment, a spokesperson for Eshoo’s office cited a confidentiality policy regarding constituent services and declined to comment further on the matter.)

The letter was also sent to the office of Senator Dianne Feinstein. As the ranking minority member of the Senate Judiciary Committee, Feinstein was preparing to lead Democratic questioning of Kavanaugh during his confirmation hearing weeks later. The woman contacted Feinstein’s office directly, according to multiple sources.

After the interactions with Eshoo’s and Feinstein’s offices, the woman decided not to speak about the matter publicly. She had repeatedly reported the allegation to members of Congress and, watching Kavanaugh move toward what looked like an increasingly assured confirmation, she decided to end her effort to come forward, a source close to the woman said. Feinstein’s office did not respond to requests for comment.

Feinstein’s decision to handle the matter in her own office, without notifying other members of the Senate Judiciary Committee, stirred concern among her Democratic colleagues. For several days, Feinstein declined requests from other Democrats on the Judiciary Committee to share the woman’s letter and other relevant communications. A source familiar with the committee’s activities said that Feinstein’s staff initially conveyed to other Democratic members’ offices that the incident was too distant in the past to merit public discussion, and that Feinstein had “taken care of it.” On Wednesday, after media inquiries to the Democratic members multiplied, and concern among congressional colleagues increased, Feinstein agreed to brief the other Democrats on the committee, with no staff present.

On Thursday, Feinstein announced that she had referred the matter to the F.B.I. “I have received information from an individual concerning the nomination of Brett Kavanaugh to the Supreme Court,” Feinstein said. “That individual strongly requested confidentiality, declined to come forward or press the matter further, and I have honored that decision. I have, however, referred the matter to federal investigative authorities.”

In a statement, an F.B.I. spokesperson said, “Upon receipt of the information on the night of September 12, we included it as part of Judge Kavanaugh’s background file, as per the standard process.”

After Feinstein’s announcement, a White House spokesperson, Kerri Kupec, wrote, about Kavanaugh, “Not until the eve of his confirmation has Sen. Feinstein or anyone raised the specter of new ‘information’ about him,” calling it an “11th hour attempt to delay his confirmation.”

Given the heightened attention to issues of sexual misconduct amid the #MeToo movement, the political risks of mishandling the allegation were acute, particularly for Feinstein, who is up for reëlection this year and is facing a challenge from her left. During Clarence Thomas’s Supreme Court confirmation hearing, in 1991, the Senate was accused by some of failing to take seriously enough Anita Hill’s allegations that Thomas had sexually harassed her while acting as her boss at the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission. After the Thomas hearings concluded, it emerged that Senator Joe Biden, who was the Democratic chairman of the Judiciary Committee at the time, had failed to call three additional women to the witness stand who had been willing to offer testimony confirming Hill’s complaints about Thomas’s inappropriate behavior toward women. Last December, Biden, who may run for President in 2020, publicly apologized for failing Hill, saying, “I wish I had been able to do more.”

Sources familiar with Feinstein’s decision suggested that she was acting out of concern for the privacy of the accuser, knowing that the woman would be subject to fierce partisan attacks if she came forward. Feinstein also acted out of a sense that Democrats would be better off focussing on legal, rather than personal, issues in their questioning of Kavanaugh. Sources who worked for other members of the Judiciary Committee said that they respected the need to protect the woman’s privacy, but that they didn’t understand why Feinstein had resisted answering legitimate questions about the allegation. “We couldn’t understand what their rationale is for not briefing members on this. This is all very weird,” one of the congressional sources said. Another added, “She’s had the letter since late July. And we all just found out about it.”

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+10 # Rodion Raskolnikov 2018-09-15 09:44
This is an interesting issue. If an accusation is made, it should be investigated. But it cannot be investigated unless the woman making that accusation will identify herself and be investigated herself by the FBI or some other policing agency. If she continues to refuse to be identified, then the story is just another Steele Dossier filled with unverifiable claims by non-named "sources" -- i.e., worthless rumor mongering.

We are in the age of opposition research. Michael Avenatti is an opposition researcher masquerading as a lawyer.

Kavanaugh seems like a very bad choice for the supreme court. He does not seem to have the basic fairness and openness that one would like in a judge.

Whether this happened in high school or not is just unknowable. It is also true that high school kids at parties drink a lot and do a lot of things they probably regret as adults. I'm sure most of us have. Prep schools like Georgetown are notorious for such parties and acts. I don't think we should judge Kavanaugh by a high school action. His record as a judge is enough and it is clear and hard evidence. He's written judicial opinions that are decidedly partisan and ideologically driven.
+16 # kitster 2018-09-15 10:34
ok. brett kavanaugh gives off the odor of a man that's way, way to close to a certain orange ogre that might just need a scotus favor some day. and it seems like bk might try to swing that favor if he gets sworn in. not to mention how bk is secretly slappin' his hands together to ditch a female-friendly stare decisis. but high school shenanigans seem like a poor way to judge a person, no matter how shameful they were. our man in question did move on to solid let's try and trip him up some other way. so progressives... get your robert's rules of order out and see if we can stop this cretin confirmation 'til january when the good guys take over.
-8 # MikeAF48 2018-09-15 10:49
No comment.
-18 # Manacha 2018-09-15 10:52
How interesting: an accuser that refuses to identify herself; lack of corroboration by the 2nd. boy (now man) accused, lack of other incidents, etc. I am undecided weather this is a simple old fashioned "dirty trick", the action of a deranged person, or a last attempt to stop the nomination. I don't like Kavenaugh on political, philosophical grounds, not at all, yet I am defending him to the last here. A nomination should NOT be a witch hunt. This is a disservice to democracy and decency.
+9 # Benign Observer 2018-09-15 16:04
Yeah, it's not like anybody who gets in between the Republicans and their stealth SCOTUS nominee will be abused, attacked, threatened or second-amendmen t solutioned, right? I don't know why this person would hesitate!

This is very much like the Anita Hill situation. She didn't want to come forward. Nor did Roy Moore's accusers. They know they will suffer and be abused, and their families will be effected because that is what happens every. single. time. But at some point you say, Okay this is going to be bloody awful but I can't be silent while a monster gets such power -- a lifetime appointment to our highest court.

Maybe you are right. But maybe you are a wrong. Open your mind and see the world from another's perspective. It's an exercise that can be useful.
-2 # Kootenay Coyote 2018-09-15 21:54
'...lack of corroboration by the 2nd. boy (now man) accused,...'

Yeah, sure he'd corroborate & put the noose around his own neck. Think, man, before you write.
+2 # Lgfoot 2018-09-17 12:18
Tell it to Merrick Garland.
+30 # Benign Observer 2018-09-15 11:11
If Kavanaugh did what his accuser says, he's not just a guy who got out of hand, he's a cold-blooded predator, and there are more victims.

The GOP plans to hold a committee vote on Thursday and a full confirmation later in the month.

If there are more victims or witnesses this would be a very good time for them to come out.

If Kavanaugh nomination is scuttled there will be no replacement nominee until after the November election.
+4 # lfeuille 2018-09-16 00:05
Yeah, if he got away with it in high school he would likely try it again. I wonder if there will be more accusers.
+3 # Rodion Raskolnikov 2018-09-16 20:05
So now the woman has talked to the Wash Post and given her story. I have no idea what will come of this. She said that they were all at a party and we all drunk -- at least the boys were drunk. She did not say she was drunk.. I know that I drank a lot in high school and did some pretty stupid things that I never repeated. I don't think we are at the end of this.
+5 # Farafalla 2018-09-15 15:56
So much is at stake with the confirmation of this horrible conservative to the SCOTUS, that it must be stopped by any means necessary. He gets on the court, Trump avoids impeachment and gets re-elected as the Dems meltdown led by their coprorate shills like DiFi. And RR o RSN continues his mission of obfuscation and deceitful and misleading comments. Nous sommes vachement foutus.
-5 # Depressionborn 2018-09-16 07:42
We are incapable of getting along with each other. One side wants to be left alone and the other blames all their own failures on people who have more.
+12 # rivervalley 2018-09-15 16:50
one of the goals here is to pressure Democratic and Republican centrist women Senators to vote against the nomination. If doubt is raised, a lot of voters will be watching how their Senator votes. He's a political stooge who shouldn't be on the court, which is exactly why the Republicans will vote to confirm, and why we should use any means necessary to keep him off.
+1 # Manacha 2018-09-16 08:49
Thank you Marc Ash for your forewarning. Some of the comments made froze my blood when they cheerfully stated that the end (derailing the nomination) justified all means (lies and?). If justice, fairness, truth cannot be a legitimate aspiration in society, then all is lost.
+5 # CragJensen 2018-09-16 17:16
Yep, I pulled some pranks in High School but nothing that even came remotely close to attempted rape. This was not a run-of-the-mill H.S. prank - it was, in actuality, an act of a burgeoning monster - a psychopathic, sexual predator. To not, at least, investigate makes accomplices of both the appointer and those who vote to confirm him.