Along with the usual smears, name calling, and flat dismissals put forward by rape culture warriors, defenders of Brett Kavanaugh, and Kavanaugh at times himself, have repeatedly argued that Dr. Christine Blasey Ford contradicted herself in the number of people she placed at the party, that those people have said it never happened, and that she has provided no evidence to support her story. The first argument is terribly weak and barely worthy addressing. Remembering the exact number of people there is not a central part of the story, and she’s named several of them that will become relevant in what follows.
The second argument (they’ve all denied it under penalty of perjury) was horribly handled by Democratic Senators yesterday, and could be the topic of another post. For starters, Mark Judge didn’t deny it under penalty of perjury as his lawyer, not he himself, submitted a cursory statement to the Senate Judiciary committee. (Update: Judge and lawyer sent a new letter, signed by Judge and released by Chuck Grassely, before midnight last night. As below, still no reason whatsoever he shouldn’t be scrutinized under Senate questioning or court room cross-examination.) There are problems with each of the other supposed denials too, but that isn’t the subject here. So, without further ado, let’s go in reverse order of strength to the 10 items that corroborate Dr. Blasey Ford’s allegation that Brett Kavanaugh tried to rape her. The claim that “there is no corroboration” is consistently bandied about on news programs, by senators, and on social media by people who, apparently do not know what the term corroborate means (hint: ‘to confirm or give support to’ is a lot wider category than “eye witness testimony”).
10. Kavanaugh (and His Closest Defenders) Own Admissions
With some of the wilder allegations of rape or sexual assault leaked, it seems, by Senate Republicans, Kavanaugh said things like, “I was not in Newport, haven’t been on a boat in Newport. Not with Mark Judge on a boat, nor all those three things combined. This is just completely made up, or at least not me. I don’t know what they’re referring to.” Fair enough. Corroboration would mean things like showing he was on a boat at the relevant time in Newport with Mark Judge. This isn’t the case with Blasey Ford’s allegation. Kavanaugh admits that he at least knew her and socialized with her in passing, further acknowledging that he doesn’t deny that these things happened to her, it just wasn’t him. As such, close associates of his tried a failed doppelgänger theory on for size. Admitting he knew Blasey Ford and acknowledging her credibility in so far as she claims to have been sexually assaulted are minimally corroborative.
9. Kavanaugh’s Own Speeches
Kavanaugh went on Fox News and tried to suggest that maybe he had a beer here and there, but that generally he was a virgin who focused on sports, going to church every Sunday, and service projects. We’ll get to some responses to that shortly, but his own speeches about hard-partying ways at both Yale and Georgetown Prep cut against that portrayal and corroborate Dr. Blasey Ford’s suggestion that he was the kind of person who could get wildly drunk and aggressive. “What happens on the bus stays on the bus” and “what happens at Georgetown Prep stays at Georgetown prep.”
8. People Blasey Ford Told Over the Last 1/2 Dozen Years
These include her therapist who took notes and four people who submitted affidavits that she had told them about being assaulted, being assaulted by a top lawyer or federal judge, or specifically naming Kavanaugh since 2012. This corroboration helps to establish that her story was not made up last minute to derail Kavanaugh, as a vocal minority of Kavanaugh supporters claim and as Kavanaugh himself more vaguely hinted in the hearings yesterday.
7. Yale Roomates and Friends of Kavanaugh
A key question has become, not as GOP flacks would have it whether he drinks or drinks excessively at all, but whether Kavanaugh may have sometimes or even regularly become drunk to the point of blacking out, passing out, or not remembering his actions while drunk. Many people from his Yale circles have corroborated the claim that he could be a terrible, angry drunk. His roommate told ABC News that “he became aggressive and belligerent when he was very drunk. I did not observe the specific incident [the second accusation] in question, but I do remember Brett frequently drinking excessively and becoming incoherently drunk.” These stories provide critical evidence undermining Kavanaugh’s self-presentation as almost a choir boy and support Blasey Ford’s story that he was badly drunk and violent with her.
6. Kavanaugh’s Yearbook Entries
As much as Kavanaugh tried in his testimony, he could not get past how terrible the yearbook entries make him look. Some of his explanations, as for the Fffffffourth of July entry, make reasonable sense on face. Several others don’t pass a basic smell test. Even he had to admit they are “a disaster,” the kind of disaster that provides corroboration to Blasey Ford’s account of his heavy drinking and rotten treatment of women.
There are reasons polygraph tests are looked at with some skepticism by courts in the U.S. and other reasons why they (1) have become more and more accepted in some court situations, when administered properly, in recent decades and (2) why US intelligence agencies often use them with their own employees. Some people are the kind of smooth liars that can fool them, and some people are so anxious that they trigger negative results without actually lying. No evidence has come forward that Dr. Blasey Ford is some kind of known liar. So the fact that, despite her admitted deep anxiety problems particularly around this matter, she took one and passed one, counts as some corroboration of her story.
Taken together, the previous six items provide a fair, but likely not necessarily entirely persuasive amount of corroboration for Blasey Ford’s story. Sure, Kavanaugh was likely a hard partying drunk who treated women as sexual objects in high school and had at least some interaction with Blasey Ford. And, yes, Blasey Ford’s story was not simply created sometime in August with the help of Democratic operatives, meaning she could meaningfully pass a polygraph test. These help fill out a picture, but on their own or together aren’t, by themselves, dispositive.
The following four items, however, are each quite powerful on their own, and especially when combined with each other and with the items above.
4. Mark Judge’s Writings
Mark Judge is in hiding. Clearly for good reason. The last thing Kavanaugh and his allies want is for Judge to be cross-examined in public. Democratic Senators landed a few jabs on this, but did nothing to camp out here the way they should. Judge and Kavanaugh were clearly best friends and, try as they might to characterize his writings as fictional accounts, Judge has never ever presented them that way. He has presented them as accounts of his life with a few names changed here and there. The entire scene he describes, including one “Bart O’Kavanaugh,” corroborates the account of this crew of Georgetown Prep boys as violent, black-out-drunk misogynists. An article in The Intercept nails this in vivid detail, followed by a second piece detailing just how bad the relationship with Judge is for Kavanaugh in terms of corroborating Blasey Ford’s story.
3. Mark Judge’s Ex-Girlfriend Elizabeth Rasor’s Account
Rasor’s story, as told initially to the New Yorker’s Jane Mayer and Ronan Farrow is a devastating piece of corroboration that what Judge and possibly also Kavanaugh were involved in was criminal sexual assault: “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 in the incident, and she has no knowledge that Kavanaugh participated. But Rasor was disturbed by the story and noted that it undercut Judge’s protestations about the sexual innocence of Georgetown Prep.”
2. Two Other Credible Allegations From Other Women
For decades we have learned that when one woman comes forward with a credible story of having been assaulted by a powerful man, it is not long before other women step forward. These stories, particularly where they dovetail in details, small or large, provide a strong level of corroboration to each other. Deborah Ramirez and Julie Swetnick have told powerful stories of having been assaulted by Kavanaugh themselves. In all three cases, heavy drinking was involved. The initial details of Swetnick’s account, in particular, came out right about the same time as the New Yorker piece on Deborah Ramirez that include Rasor’s account of Judge and other boys taking turns having sex with women unable to consent because they were drunk. Swetnick likewise claims the she and other young women or teenaged girls were subject to Judge, Kavanaugh, and/or others taking turns having sex with them when they were too drunk or drugged to consent. This is an incredibly potent set of items corroborating Dr. Blasey Ford’s initial allegation.
1. Kavanaugh’s Own Calendars
I am completely baffled why, outside of Philip Bump’s excellent articles on this yesterday here and here and here (and Bump is not always someone I agree with or find persuasive), everyone isn’t camping out on the Calendar. How in the world could someone who thinks he’s qualified for the Supreme Court willingly give up the most damning corroborating evidence of all, somehow thinking it proves his innocence? It’s a bit gobsmacking, to be honest. The July 1 entry, in particular, that Bump has focused on, puts Kavanaugh with Judge, P.J. (whom Ford has named as at the party), Squi (whom Blasey Ford says now she was going out with around that time), and a few other boys. They were drinking (as Kavanaugh admitted “skis” meant with Cory Booker in the hearings). It fits, as Bump noted, the timeline of six to eight weeks before Blasey Ford could have run into Judge at a grocery store later that summer. Beyond the fact of all the rest of the corroborating evidence suggesting that Dr. Blasey Ford is telling the truth (where Kavanaugh’s honesty is questionable at best), how can any decision maker in their right mind want to put someone so terrible at evaluating evidence into a lifetime role on the nation’s most powerful court?