Kavanaugh's Church and Homework Defence Falling Apart
By Paul Waldman
Sydney Morning Herald
September 27, 2018
New York: Speaking to reporters at the United Nations, President Donald Trump said about Brett Kavanaugh's nomination to the Supreme Court: "They could have pushed it through two and a half weeks ago and you would not be talking about it now, which is frankly what I would have preferred, but they didn't do that." No kidding.
Now we have the most shocking allegation yet, courtesy of Michael Avenatti, known to the world as Stormy Daniels' lawyer. Avenatti has released an affidavit from his client, a woman named Julie Swetnick, who says she attended parties with Brett Kavanaugh as a high school student. The behaviour Swetnick describes Kavanaugh, his friend Mark Judge, and other boys engaging in ranges from the distasteful to the horrific.
Before we get to the specifics of Swetnick's allegations, we should make something clear. Republicans will inevitably say that they should be ignored or discounted because they arrive "at the 11th hour." But the date on which an accuser comes forward tells us nothing about whether her claims are true. There are perfectly good reasons she might have been reluctant up until now to come forward - for instance, since women who make sexual assault allegations are routinely disbelieved and attacked, she may have decided to go public only when she saw that Christine Blasey Ford's allegation about Kavanaugh was taken seriously enough to warrant a Judiciary Committee hearing.
Furthermore, there is no "11th hour." Republicans are eager to get Kavanaugh confirmed, but if it takes an extra day or week or month to sort these allegations out, then it would certainly seem worthwhile given the fact that Kavanaugh could be making laws for all of us for decades to come.
Republicans can't claim that it's absolutely vital that Kavanaugh be seated when the court begins its new session in the first week of October when they held open a vacant seat for over a year because they didn't want President Barack Obama's nominee to fill it.
In the coming hours and days, we're going to learn more about Julie Swetnick, who is identified in the affidavit as a former federal government employee. Perhaps we will learn that she is unreliable and there are reasons to disbelieve everything she says. Or perhaps we will learn that her account is persuasive and compelling, and there are strong reasons to believe it, even apart from the fact that it is consistent with so much else we have heard about Kavanaugh's high school social scene. We should be open to either possibility and take the accusations seriously.
Swetnick alleges that she attended "well over 10 house parties . . . where Mark Judge and Brett Kavanaugh were present," and that she witnessed Kavanaugh both "'grinding' against girls, and attempting to remove or shift girls' clothing to expose private body parts" and being verbally abusive toward them. She describes him as a "mean drunk."
This is consistent with the account of Kavanaugh's freshman roommate at Yale, who said in a statement, "although Brett was normally reserved, he was a notably heavy drinker, even by the standards of the time, and that he became aggressive and belligerent when he was very drunk."
Then comes the most explosive part of Swetnick's affidavit. She says it was known that Judge, Kavanaugh, and others would spike the punch at these parties with grain alcohol or drugs in order to make girls inebriated, and that the boys, including Kavanaugh, would "'target' particular girls so they could be taken advantage of; it was usually a girl that was especially vulnerable because she was alone at the party or shy."
This echoes the New Yorker's account of Deborah Ramirez, a college classmate of Kavanaugh's who was described by others as similarly vulnerable when she got to Yale, someone who felt a little out of place among the sons and daughters of the elite.
Swetnick goes on:
"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 a firm recollection of seeing boys lined up outside rooms and many of these parties waiting for their 'turn' with a girl inside the room. These boys included Mark Judge and Brett Kavanaugh.
|Part of a 1982 calendar of Brett Kavanaugh's released by the Senate Judiciary Committee in attempts to defend him.|
"In approximately 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 raping me. I believe I was drugged using Quaaludes or something similar placed in what I was drinking."
This echoes another part of the New Yorker story, an interview with a former girlfriend of Mark Judge's named Elizabeth Rasor:
Rasor recalled that Judge had told her ashamedly of an incident that involved him and other boys taking turns having sex with a drunk woman. Rasor said that Judge seemed to regard it as fully consensual. She said that Judge did not name others involved, and she has no knowledge that Kavanaugh participated.
|Julie Swetnick is accusing US Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh of sexual misconduct.|
It's important to note that Swetnick does not say specifically that Kavanaugh was one of those who raped her, only that he was present when she was raped. But one thing that has become more than clear is that Kavanaugh's descriptions of both the social scene in which he participated ("the drinking age was 18, and yes, the seniors were legal and had beer there") and his own behaviour as a teenager ("I was focused on academics and athletics, going to church every Sunday at Little Flower, working on my service projects, and friendship") are almost impossible to believe. That doesn't mean he's lying about the incidents alleging sexual misconduct, but it damages his credibility.
To repeat, it will take some time before we can make a full judgment about Swetnick's allegations, and The Post has not independently verified them. But I suspect that if Kavanaugh's nomination is withdrawn, it will be in part because in defending himself he painted a picture of a youthful paragon of virtue, someone who may have had a drink or two now and then but "always treated women with dignity and respect" and was more concerned with church and homework than partying, when the pile of evidence to the contrary keeps growing and growing.
Something else we know: The effort by the GOP to ram Kavanaugh's nomination through as quickly as possible is utterly unsustainable. A full investigation may prove him innocent of all charges, in which case he'll be confirmed. But a full investigation is what we need.