Law

Rocked by a second accusation of sexual assault, Brett Kavanaugh wrote a stern letter to the Senate Judiciary Committee to protest his innocence. This letter reveals a lot about Judge Cavanaugh’s thinking and sheds some light on his likely guilt or innocence.

The letter starts off:

When I testified in front of the Senate three weeks ago, I explained my belief that fair process is foundational to justice and to our democracy.

The key phrase here is ‘fair process’. Conservatives may protest that Kavanaugh isn’t getting his ‘due process’, but Brett knows that confirmation hearings aren’t trials — they are job interviews — and ‘due process’ isn’t relevant. Next, he brings up ‘justice’ and ‘democracy’. Here he’s conflating his individual concerns with a national issue. The subtext is that if he’s treated unfairly then democracy itself takes a hit.

Bearing that in mind let’s consider what’s next: 

At that time, I sat before the Senate Judiciary Committee for more than 31 hours and answered questions under oath. I then answered more questions at a confidential session. The following week, I responded to more than 1,200 written questions, more than have been submitted to all previous Supreme Court nominees combined. 

Here Kavanaugh echoes what many of his defenders have claimed, that he has been more thoroughly vetted than any previous nominee. But that is to confuse quantity with quality. There is a lot more in his career to go through than there is with the typical nominee. And it is quite possible that because of the extensive judicial record less time was spent on ‘character’ investigation.

Then we get to Kavanaugh’s whiny examination of the first accusation:

Only after that exhaustive process was complete did I learn, through the news media, about a 36- year-old allegation from high school that had been asserted months earlier and withheld from me throughout the hearing process. First it was an anonymous allegation that I categorically and unequivocally denied. Soon after the accuser was identified, I repeated my denial on the record and made clear that I wished to appear before the Committee. I then repeated my denial to Committee investigators—under criminal penalties for false statements.

Here Kavanaugh highlights the length of time since the alleged sexual assault, which has no bearing on whether it happened or not.

Next, he notes the accusation wasn’t immediately made public, but fails to mention that it was at the request of his accuser, Dr. Ford, and not by Senator Feinstein, recipient of the letter.

Then he outlines in detail his denials. Note that he says “I categorically and unequivocally denied” and later “under criminal penalties for false statements”. We are in “The lady does protest too much, methinks” territory.

Liars believe that the more ornate their lie or denial the greater weight it carries. But it is this sort of language that points to guilt. An innocent man would be more like to just say “I denied” and “under oath”.

Next, he writes:

All of the witnesses identified by Dr. Ford as being present at the party she describes are on the record to the Committee saying they have no recollection of any such party happening.

It’s disingenuous. After making a big deal about how he was under oath, he doesn’t mention that none of these witnesses were under oath. And “I don’t remember” is a well-worn dodge in front of a Congressional committee. Nor does he mention all the people who have supported Dr. Ford’s depiction of the culture of sex & booze at Georgetown Prep.

Next, he doubles down on his position:

I asked to testify before the Committee again under oath as soon as possible, so that both Dr. Ford and I could both be heard. I thank Chairman Grassley for scheduling that hearing for Thursday. 

He’s all-in. what else is going to say?

Then he addresses the second accusation:

Last night, another false and uncorroborated accusation from 35 years ago was published. Once again, those alleged to have been witnesses to the event deny it ever happened. There is now a frenzy to come up with something — anything—that will block this process and a vote on my confirmation from occurring.

He has gone full hysterical — “ frenzy to come up with something—anything”. Again Kavanaugh is using over the top language, which points to a consciousness of guilt.

Then he ups the ante:

These are smears, pure and simple. And they debase our public discourse. But they are also a threat to any man or woman who wishes to serve our country. Such grotesque and obvious character assassination—if allowed to succeed—will dissuade competent and good people of all political persuasions from service.

It’s Trumpian — “any attack on me is an attack on the Republic”. And it raises the question why weren’t similar attempted rape charges used against Gorsuch or any of the other recent Republican nominees if that is the new Liberal tactic? It’s a distraction.

Then he adds some more from Trump’s playbook:

As I told the Committee during my hearing, a federal judge must be independent, not swayed by public or political pressure. That is the kind of judge I will always be. I will not be intimidated into withdrawing from this process. The coordinated effort to destroy my good name will not drive me out. The vile threats of violence against my family will not drive me out. The last-minute character assassination will not succeed.

It’s yet more grandiose language and aggressive smoke.

And finally he offers the most absurd paragraph of the whole letter:

I have devoted my career to serving the public and the cause of justice, and particularly to promoting the equality and dignity of women. Women from every phase of my life have come forward to attest to my character. I am grateful to them. I owe it to them, and to my family, to defend my integrity and my name. I look forward to answering questions from the Senate on Thursday.

Here Kavanaugh says his friends and family are on his side. I should certainly hope so. But look at Bernie Madoff. None of his family or friends had any idea what was going on and his crimes were committed contemporaneously for decades.

And the claim that he promoted “the equality and dignity of women” is not supported by a judicial record that consistently favored corporations over individuals and decisions that restricted women’s rights. 

The biggest question unanswered is why Kavanaugh doesn’t demand an investigation. An innocent man would surely welcome the opportunity to clear his name.  Without it, should he be confirmed, he will always have an asterisk against his name.

But he can’t risk it, because God only knows what else an investigation focused on his school years might turn up.

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