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FOCUS: E-mails Show That Republican Senate Staff Stymied a Kavanaugh Accuser's Effort to Give Testimony
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>   
Friday, 28 September 2018 10:39

Excerpt: "From the start, Deborah Ramirez's legal team had called for the F.B.I. to conduct an investigation."

Lawyers for Deborah Ramirez say that she was willing to cooperate with Senator Chuck Grassley and the Judiciary Committee. (photo: Mark Peterson/The New Yorker)
Lawyers for Deborah Ramirez say that she was willing to cooperate with Senator Chuck Grassley and the Judiciary Committee. (photo: Mark Peterson/The New Yorker)


E-mails Show That Republican Senate Staff Stymied a Kavanaugh Accuser's Effort to Give Testimony

By Ronan Farrow and Jane Mayer, The New Yorker

28 September 18

 

hroughout Thursday’s Senate hearing on Christine Blasey Ford’s sexual-misconduct allegation against Brett Kavanaugh, Republicans on the Judiciary Committee claimed that they had tried in vain to secure more information about other accusations made about the judge. “We were moving heaven and earth and even moving the schedule to get to the truth,” Senator Thom Tillis, of North Carolina, said. “Every opportunity you have to go and question a witness, every opportunity that we’ve had to find more truth and to find more facts, we have done it.” Senator Chuck Grassley, of Iowa, the chairman of the committee, said, about an allegation of sexual misconduct raised last week by a former college classmate of Kavanaugh’s, Deborah Ramirez, “My staff made eight requests—yes, eight requests—for evidence from attorneys for Ms. . . . Ms. Ramirez.” He added, “The committee can’t do an investigation if attorneys are stonewalling.”

On Wednesday, several conservative-media outlets published leaks of some of the e-mail correspondence between Ramirez’s team and Republican committee staffers, which appeared to back up Grassley’s characterization. But a fuller copy of the e-mail correspondence between Ramirez’s legal team and Republican and Democratic Senate staffers shows that a Republican aide declined to proceed with telephone calls and instead repeatedly demanded that Ramirez produce additional evidence in written form. Only then could any conversation about her testimony proceed. The exchange culminated in a breakdown of communication between the two sides, as Republican and Democratic staffers traded accusations of stonewalling.

The e-mails show that Mike Davis, a senior Republican committee staffer, approached Ramirez’s attorneys on Sunday evening, shortly after The New Yorker published a piece about Senate Democrats investigating her allegation of sexual misconduct by Kavanaugh during their college years. Ramirez told The New Yorker that Kavanaugh had exposed himself at a drunken dormitory party, thrust his penis in her face, and caused her to touch it without her consent as she pushed him away. Kavanaugh has repeatedly said that the allegations are false.

From the start, Ramirez’s legal team had called for the F.B.I. to conduct an investigation. Her attorney John Clune told Davis that Ramirez was seeking an F.B.I. investigation and said that, “on appropriate terms, she would also agree to be interviewed in person.” But when Clune proposed a phone call several times, Davis repeatedly insisted that Clune answer two questions: Did Ramirez possess evidence in addition to what was in the New Yorker article? And was she willing to provide testimony to the committee’s investigators?

Clune answered the Republican staffer’s questions, suggesting that Ramirez did, in fact, have additional witnesses and other evidence. And, he said, of Ramirez’s willingness to testify to the committee’s investigators, “We couldn’t answer without learning more from you about the details of whatever process you are contemplating. After hearing more, we would advise the client accordingly.” Davis then requested that Ramirez’s team provide evidence in the form of a letter, e-mail, or statement to the committee’s investigators before he would consider a call. Clune continued to try to schedule a call with a Democratic staffer on the e-mail thread, but Davis wrote back to him, saying that, “before we discuss a phone call or any other next steps, again, we need to have the following information,” and reiterated the two questions.

At that point, Heather Sawyer, the Democratic staffer who was copied on the e-mails in accordance with committee policy, wrote to Davis, “As you’re aware, Ms. Ramirez’s counsel have repeatedly requested to speak with the Committee, on a bipartisan basis, to determine how to proceed. You refused. I’ve never encountered an instance where the Committee has refused even to speak with an individual or counsel. I am perplexed as to why this is happening here, except that it seems designed to ensure that the Majority can falsely claim that Ms. Ramirez and her lawyers refused to cooperate. That simply is not true.”

Davis responded, “I have not refused to speak with anyone. I am simply requesting – for the 7th time now over the last 48 hours – that Ms. Ramirez’s attorneys provide the Senate Judiciary Committee with any evidence that they have before we move to the next steps.” (Emphasis in original.) Finally, one of Ramirez’s lawyers sent a formal letter requesting an F.B.I. investigation. The letter said that Ramirez “is willing to cooperate with the Committee,” and that her efforts to do so were being rebuffed.

Sawyer did not respond to a request for comment. A Democratic staffer responding on her behalf confirmed that the e-mails were accurate.

Davis did not comment, but he provided a separate personal e-mail sent to one of Ramirez’s attorneys, noting that they were acquaintances and saying, “I look forward to working with you on this matter.” In a statement, a Republican committee aide said, “Our staff proactively reached out to Ms. Ramirez’s attorney just minutes after she went public in the New Yorker, and we did so on a bipartisan basis. As a general practice, the committee requests to review any evidence or statement before determining how best to proceed with an investigation. This is necessary given the sheer volume of claims that the committee receives. Our staff asked on seven separate occasions over the course of 48 hours for any evidence or statement Ms. Ramirez would be willing to provide. Unfortunately, her counsels have not provided the committee with any such material to review.” The aide noted that the committee asked Kavanaugh about the allegation during an interview this week.

Ramirez’s attorney, Clune, disputed that description of the committee’s response, saying in a statement that he had responded “quickly and positively” to each of the committee’s inquiries. “Almost immediately in our correspondence, they became less interested in hearing from her and more interested in discovering what witnesses we could bring forward. Since it was only the majority staff that made these demands, as the minority staff questioned those demands as unprecedented, we became suspicious that any disclosures we might file would be shared inappropriately with Judge Kavanaugh or others to prepare and attack Debbie’s account,” Clune wrote. “Since Debbie’s interest was in an F.B.I. investigation where Judge Kavanaugh could be questioned under oath, we didn’t feel comfortable releasing this information without their assurances. We continued to attempt to negotiate in good faith by submitting a lengthier letter providing more information as well as Debbie’s request for investigation. Other than replying ‘received’ on Thursday morning, the committee has not responded. It is remarkable that the committee admits they had enough information to question Judge Kavanaugh under oath on Debbie’s statements in The New Yorker, yet that very same information was insufficient for Debbie’s counsel to earn even a phone call.”

Ford’s road to testifying was also marked by partisan rancor and allegations of stonewalling by both sides. In an e-mail last week, Ford’s attorney Debra Katz wrote to the committee’s majority staff, saying, “The imposition of aggressive and artificial deadlines regarding the date and conditions of any hearing has created tremendous and unwarranted anxiety and stress on Dr. Ford.” In announcing Ford’s agreement to testify after days of tense exchanges, Katz wrote that “many aspects” of the terms under which she would testify “are fundamentally inconsistent with the Committee’s promise of a fair, impartial investigation into her allegations, and we are disappointed with the leaks and the bullying that have tainted the process.”

Before Ford testified, Republicans on the Judiciary Committee announced that a vote on Kavanaugh would proceed on Friday. After yesterday’s hearing, Grassley told reporters that the committee would meet on Friday morning for the vote, as planned.

E-mails exchanged between Ramirez’s legal team and Republican and Democratic Senate staffers obtained by The New Yorker have been reproduced below. Contact information has been redacted. The e-mails have also been placed in chronological order.

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+39 # suzyskier 2018-09-28 14:11
Kavanaugh could have murdered someone and the Republicans would still vote him in. They have no scruples and neither does Kavanaugh. If he’s so upset about how “they” are putting his family and him through this, he would stop this farce in its tracks. His raw ambition is so fierce and he feels so entitled he doesn’t care how this effects his family, not really.
 
 
+24 # they said what? 2018-09-28 14:15
These Republicans knew and did nothing about possible Russian interference in the 2016 election. Kavanaugh on the Supreme Court will prevent their suffering any consequences. It is more important for them to protect their asses by putting a rapist and serial liar on the Supreme Court than to represent the people and serve their country.
 
 
+32 # WYThomas 2018-09-28 14:22
Proof once again that the Republicans' conduct regarding the Kavanaugh hearing was shameful and disgusting.
 
 
+13 # economagic 2018-09-28 20:45
The most civil label I can think of for these carbon-based life forms is "scum."

Removing the gloves, I see them not as the Socratic debaters attempting to discern the fine shades of reality that they would have us believe they are, but as committed fascist insurgents in the late stages of a coup to overthrow their government and ours that has been in process at least since the Powell Memo of 1971. The fact that they have not (yet) bombed the palace as did their fellow travelers in Chile on 9/11/1973 evinces the subtlety of the sophistication they have gained in the intervening 45 years.

This is not news. For 15 years it has been a subject of discussion throughout what passes for a "left" in this country (those who favor representative democracy as opposed to authoritarian or monarchical rule). In all that time we have not come up with any meaningful strategy to thwart them. We have very little time left before the forces of nature as augmented by the force of human hubris makes them and us irrelevant.
 
 
+1 # randrjwr 2018-10-01 09:24
It started even before the Powell Memo. Read "Democracy in Chains" by Nancy MacLean to get the story. A principal goal of the "scum" is to rid America of the "excess of Democracy" that, even in its current deteriorated state, still frustrates them. If they succeed in getting the Constitutional Convention they want, WATCH OUT!
 
 
+17 # treerapper 2018-09-29 06:16
This denial to allow Ramirez to testify speaks to the lie that Grassley has penetrated. That all such condemning allegations be brought, first and foremost, directly to the Judiciary Committee rather than to the media - so they could die without ever seeing the light of day. GOP muzzling at its best. This sort of crap needs to be shouted from the rooftops so that it deafens the GOP gangsters.
 
 
+15 # itsnowornever 2018-09-29 15:48
"This is the only picture that matters right now (from a photo of Karl Rove w/ arm arounda young Brett K). There’s a reason they’re fighting so hard for this nomination. What we are witnessing is the endgame of a strategy 40 years in the making. Karl Rove’s quest for a “permanent Republican majority” can’t happen in free and fair elections where every vote is equal, so a plan was put in place to 1) control voter turnout and counts and 2) take control of the judiciary to favor voting restrictions. That’s why it has to be Kavanaugh and no one else. He has been carefully groomed for this position probably since college. It’s been said before it bears repeating. Democrats play checkers. Republicans play chess."
 
 
+3 # economagic 2018-09-29 19:05
Right on, and their end game, in 20th-century parlance, is called "totalitarianis m" (fascist flavor because "civil" government and "private" business work in close partnership). But the earlier terms (despotism, tyranny, as in Yale Historian Timothy Snyder's thoughtful little volume "On Tyranny" from last year) are coming back in fashion.
 
 
+5 # palaherb@gmail.com 2018-09-30 17:23
Kavanaugh has displayed in public view the very reasons why he has disqualified himself to sit on the High Court. He has demonstrably lied during these hearings, prior hearings for appointment, and has shown a temperament, rudeness, political bias and disrespect which in the most recent hearing are sufficient evidence for disqualificatio n. It is not necessary to establish whether or not he is a sexual predator to know beyond a shadow of a doubt that he is an accomplished liar -- even under oath. KAVANAUGH HAS COMMITTED PERJURY!!!