By Miriam Raftery
Photos: Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh (center), Prof. Christine Blasey Ford (left), and Julie Swetnick (right), who holds high-level security clearances and accused Kavanaugh of “gang rape” but was not allowed to testify
September 28, 2018 (Washington D.C.) – The Senate Judiciary Committee, on a party line vote with all Republicans in favor, voted today to send controversial Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh to the full Senate for a vote next week.
The action came after an emotional day of testimony in which accuser Christine Blasey Ford, a psychology professor, accused Kavanaugh of attempted rape and Kavanaugh denied the allegations in anger-laced and tearful testimony. The committee leadership refused to allow testimony by two other accusers, including one accusing Kavanaugh of “gang rape,” or by any witnesses who might have corroborated or disputed the accounts.
Republican Senator Jeff Flake cast a key vote to advance the matter out of committee, but said he will not vote for Kavanaugh on the Senate Floor unless that vote is delayed a week and an FBI investigation of the sexual assault allegations is conducted. However there is no assurance that Senate Leader Mitch McConnell will delay the vote scheduled for Tuesday, if he has enough votes for passage without the delay.
Ford asserted that she was grabbed at a house party and dragged into a bedroom, where Kavanaugh and his friend jumped on top of her with Kavanaugh holding his hand over her mouth as he tried to take off her clothing before she managed to break free and escape. View videos of her opening statement and assertion that she was “100%” certain there was no mistaken identity. Ford has passed a lie detector test and called for an FBI investigation.
Kavanaugh asserted in his opening statement that he is “innocent” of the charges made by Ford, swearing “before my family and God.” View video of his testimony. He produced a calendar kept in his youth that showed he was out of town for much of the summer when the alleged assault on Ford occurred.
He later accused without substantiation “Hilary Clinton” and Democrats of being behind the accusations against him. When pressed by Senator Dianne Feinstein to support calls for an FBI investigation, Kavanaugh refused, insisting he has previously passed FBI background checks as a judge and White House attorney, though those probes did not examine the recent assault allegations. President Donald Trump and Republican committee chairman Chuck Grassley have also refused to request an FBI investigation.
The Senate Judiciary chairman refused to allow testimony by two other women alleging sexual assault, including Julie Swetnick, who holds high-level security clearances with top federal agencies. She alleges in a sworn declaration that Kavanaugh was a “mean drunk” whom she saw lined up outside bedroom doors at parties to “gang rape” incapacitated women. Though Swetnick said she avoided drinking spiked punch at parties, she none-the-less wound up gang-raped in 1982 and says that Kavanaugh and his friend, Mark Judge, were present during the rape.
Swetnick holds security clearances from the U.S. Department of Treasury, the U.S. Mint and Internal Revenue Services, and has previously held a secret security clearance from the State Department, Justice Department, Homeland Security and Customs and Border Patrol. Her attorney, Michael Avenatti, sent letters demanding that Swetnick be allowed to testify before the Judiciary Committee, but those requests were ignored, as were requests for an FBI investigation.
An additional accuser, Deborah Ramirez, has said she is willing to testify but was not allowed to do so. Ramirez alleges that Kavanaugh exposed himself to her and push his penis into her face during a college drinking game, USA Today reports.
Other witnesses with conflicting accounts, some supporting the accusers, some not, were all declined opportunities to testify before the Judiciary Committee, reducing the hearing to a he-said, she-said situation with many observers finding Ford’s testimony credible and Kavanaugh’s angry and partisan outbursts troublesome given that justices are supposed to exhibit a calm judicial temperament and be impartial, while others believed Kavanaugh’s account and accused Ford of lying.
In moving forward on the Kavanaugh confirmation, the Senate Judiciary Committee ignored calls from the American Bar Association and Yale Law School, Kavanaugh’s alma mater, to delay a vote to allow for an FBI investigation, USA Today reports. The editors of the largest Catholic magazine in the U.S., the conservative America Magazine: Jesuit Review, have gone further, calling for Kavanaugh’s nomination to be withdrawn, stating, “For the good of the country and the future credibility of the Supreme Court in a world that is finally learning to take reports of harassment, assault and abuse seriously, it is time to find a nominee whose confirmation will not repudiate that lesson.”
If approved, Kavanaugh would shift the balance of power on the high court to conservatives. He could prove the swing vote on issues ranging from overturning Roe vs. Wade to deciding whether a president can be indicted while in office.
While serving in the George W. Bush White House, Kavanaugh drafted an opinion suggested that a sitting president should be above the law for crimes committed while in office, an opinion some have found troubling given the prospect of special prosecutor Robert Mueller potentially ensnaring Trump in a widening probe that has already resulted in guilty pleas, convictions and felony charges against numerous members of the President’s cabinet and campaign team.