Friday, September 28, 2018

Kavanaugh vs the US Senate's Judiciary Committee

The Judiciary Committe's hearings on Judge Brett Kavanaugh's nomination for the US Supreme Court have left me very unhappy.  I don't like the borking he received or the disrespectful in-committee protesters.  But the allegations of attempted rape, exposing himself, and then conspiracy to commit gang rape--all at the last minute and unsubstantiated--infuriated me.

I was also irritated by my wife during the whole episode.  She would watch the NBC or CBS evening news and then make comments like "Kavanaugh really screwed up."  I told her the allegations were ridiculous and that the party attendees said it didn't happen, and I asked her to read some articles on the allegations.  She refused, and at one point said something like "... all men behave horribly, except you."  Predictably, the qualifier didn't make me feel any better.  Subsequent discussions made me suspect she thinks rich, powerful men all misbehave, and not the people we know.  I know she has a lot of male friends at work, and has never given even a hint of any sexual misconduct that she has observed.  My conclusion was that the media propaganda against Kavanaugh was having an impact.

So, like much of the nation, I watched the Ford and Kavanaugh hearing yesterday.  And there were a lot of things about the day's events that really bothered me.

First, I learned there is a process to confidentially issues handle raised about a candidate that doesn't involve an open hearing.  Christine Ford wanted to keep her accusation confidential.  Diane Feinstein didn't pursue the confidential process, but waited till just before the first vote after the hearings to raise the complaint.  I'm leaving out a lot about how despicably I think the democratic members of the committee  behaved.

Next, there's the fact that attempted rape apparently does not have a statue of limitations in Maryland.  I think every woman that is sexually assaulted or abused should report the incident when it happens.  Not doing so lets the offender off the hook and potentially allows him/her to continue the behavior and assault or harass someone else.  Yeah, I know reporting this type of crime is difficult, and I theoretically understand why some women (or men) do not.  But even if there is not enough evidence for a trial or conviction, the event is available as supporting a pattern of behavior for the next victim.

But back to my point.  I was surprised there is no statute of limitations in this type of crime.  She could still report the crime to the local Maryland police department where it occurred and get the investigation she and all the democrats on the committee say they want.  Why doesn't she?

This line of thought leads me to my next point.  There was too much information suppressed at the hearing.  I don't think a police investigation was likely to reveal that information, as I don't think they could find any corroborating evidence to lead to a full scale court case with discovery and full cross examination.  But there is the chance that a prosecutor could still bring it to trial.  We've seen a lot of politically motivated trials in the past few years where there did not seem sufficient evidence to proceed.  But a real trial would give the defense the opportunity, through discovery, to view evidence that brings into question Christine Ford's accusations.

Evidence such as her statements in couple's therapy and individual therapy that were not provided to the committee.  What was her story then?  What did she say about her memory of who assaulted her?  You would think that just relevant parts of her therapy discussions could have been presented.  But then maybe they would have shown more problems with mental issues?  I prefer to assume that they likely showed she didn't know who her attacker was at the time or that her account of the event was significantly different.

Then there is the polygraph test recording and list of questions.  All the committee was given was the polygrapher's conclusion that she answered two questions truthfully and that she verified the truthfulness of her hand-written story that day.  Yesterday we found out the polygrapher was paid by the liberal pro-bono attorneys Christine Ford 'hired'.  Way too much information being withheld.  It's even worse when Ford described the questioning as lengthy and emotional, yet the report says they only asked her two relevant questions.

Then there's the whole episode about Ford not understanding that the committee offered to send investigators or come itself to California to interview her.  Instead, she insisted on a delayed interview in DC, because, according to her lawyers, she was afraid to fly.  Yet she flys frequently for work and vacation.  Worse to me was her response to the republican questioner, Ms. Mitchell, when she first asked about whether she flew to DC for yesterday's inquiry.  She said she had a lot of encouragement from friends helping her to fly.  The subsequent revelations of frequent flying suggested strongly that she was attempting to dissemble or mislead the audience.  This is even inconsistent with an assumption that her liberal lawyers had their own agenda and didn't properly inform her of the committee's offers or that they were the ones providing the fear-of-flying excuse.  Ms. Ford made it obvious she was also being misleading.

Before getting to her actual story, let me point out that the four people she identified as being at the party all say they have no memory of such a gathering.  Her female friend went further and said she had never met Brett Kavanaugh.  These people don't just say that Brett did not assault the female, they claim there was never a get together like the one described by Christine Ford.  And her good female friend says she never met or knew Brett Kavanaugh, one of only four guys at a small get together. 

Now, if these folks had been talking to a reporter, you might believe you could impeach their 'testimony.'  The boys probably felt some sympathy for their friend.  Christine Ford says her female friend has medical issues.  But they weren't talking to a reporter.  They made the statements on penalty of felony--making false statements to the U.S. Senate.  If they wanted to help their friends, and avoid legal jeopardy, they should have simply stated that they don't remember anything about such a party.  Instead, they said no such party took place, and even that the female friend had never met Brett Kavanaugh.

Their on-record statements directly refute the story that Christine Ford told.  This is why there should never have been any public hearings.  Some democrat involved released Christine's Ford name to the media, the democrat's on the committee demanded a hearing, and the statements contradicting Ford came to light after the republicans were committed to a hearing.

Now back to Christine Ford's testimony and story.  First, let's address the 'thorough' exploration of Ms. Ford's story.  The democratic senator's toughest question was to what degree of certainty Mr. Ford believed Brett Kavanaugh was her assaulter.  She answered 100%.  All of the rest of the democratic time was taken up speaking about how heroic she was or asserting that they needed an FBI investigation to determine the facts.

The republican senators opted to have Ms. Ford questioned by Ms. Mitchell, a prosecutor involved with sexual assault crimes.  This was probably their best option as plenty of pre-inquiry media discussion involved the fact that it was going to look like 11 old white men were going to attack the credibility of a helpless female.  But the rather innocuous list of questions Ms. Mitchell asked did not lead to any significant impeachment of Ms. Ford's testimony.  Sure, she found false-hoods, pointed out some of the unlikely representations, and showed some evidence of liberal/progressive involvement in supporting her presentation.  But she never made any pointed accusations or highlighted what the answers meant.  It was like a deposition, rather than the public trial or roasting that was meant to convict or clear Brett Kavanaugh of allegations of attempted rape.  Sure, they all claimed this was just a job interview, but polls show that up to 50% of the public think he committed attempted rape.  That's not the outcome of a job interview.

As I suspected, she gave a summary of her 'findings' to the committee later that evening out of camera view.  Apparently she told them Ms. Ford's story was not enough to file charges or even get a warrant.  But the public hearing wasn't just about gathering info for the republican senators, it was about the public's view of the behavior of a man nominated for the Supreme Court.  If the public believed he was guilty, it wouldn't matter what the individual senators believed, they would vote the way that would keep them in office.

So, there was no effective cross examination or even thorough inquiry into Ms. Ford's story.  Here are my thoughts.

First, she seemed very sincere in describing a story of assault.  I believe she was assaulted at some time in her youth, and she used those memories to support her earnestness.  I do not believe she was assaulted by Brett Kavanaugh, though she may have come to that conclusion.  But she was never asked about how often she had met Brett Kavanaugh or why she was able to identify him.  When asked about who introduced her to Brett Kavanaugh, she refused to identify the person.  Why?  Ms. Mitchell did no questioning on the identification of the attacker.  And this seems to be the obvious line of questioning.  The one thing she remembers, but no questions?

At this point, I also want to highlight something else that was never in the record.  All of her social media was scrubbed.  I don't do a lot of social media, but most people do.  If she did not use social media, why not just explain it.  But she was reported to have marched once and signed a petition once recently involving anti-Trump resistance.  One may assume that there was derogatory behavior in her social media, whether anti-Trump, progressive, or showing personal behavior that would not have reflected well on her believability.  But no questions were asked.

If she was anti-Trump or pro-resistance, it would help to explain a false identification of Brett Kavanaugh.  But we aren't even given the opportunity of learning about such a motivation.

Now the story itself.  I understand having a bad memory about events from 36 years ago.  But there's some behavior that most people would expect.  Like a 15 year old does not go to a party by herself.  In this case, we have the implication that her female friend accompanied or met her there.  I don't know about you, but I walked to parties on campus and drove to others.  The few times I went to gatherings or events when I was younger, I either got dropped off and picked up by friends or family.  Someone had to have been there to help her get there and home.  Though this is a national event, and no one has come forward.

So she's at a small party and is assaulted.  She doesn't approach or get her friend's help.  Doesn't warn her about the guys' behavior.  Doesn't get her assistance in going home.  And doesn't say anything to her good friend about what happened.  Further, her friend doesn't notice or inquire about her absence, nor note and inquire about subsequent behavior that Ms. Ford describes as having ruined her life for four to five years.  And now, her friend says no such get together ever happened and she has not met Brett Kavanaugh. 

Her friend's statement didn't even note that she had observed any change in Ms. Ford's behavior during that period of time that might have been explained by a traumatic assault.

The whole setup prevented any thorough questioning of Ms. Ford's account, including avoiding an off-camera in-depth forensic interview.  Much of the supposedly supporting evidence (therapy transcripts and polygraph recording) were not available to the committee or the public.  Almost no background information is available on Ms. Ford, other than typical resume facts, that would allow a reviewer to assess the likelihood of other motivations for her story.

We are asked to believe she is telling the truth just because she was earnest and believable on the stand.  But the others' that she claims were at the party assert there never was such a party.

I believe Kavanaugh was unjustly smeared.  He was not given the opportunity to question his accuser, and the process prevented anyone else from doing so.  I believe Brett Kavanaugh is a good man and should be confirmed as an Associate Justice of the Supreme Court.


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