On Friday, Ronan Farrow and Jane Mayer broke news in the New Yorker that Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh has been accused of sexual assault.
Here are the details:
The allegation dates back to the early nineteen-eighties, when Kavanaugh was a high-school student at Georgetown Preparatory School, in Bethesda, Maryland, and the woman attended a nearby high school. In the letter, the woman alleged that, during an encounter at a party, Kavanaugh held her down, and that he attempted to force himself on her. She claimed in the letter that Kavanaugh and a classmate of his, both of whom had been drinking, turned up music that was playing in the room to conceal the sound of her protests, and that Kavanaugh covered her mouth with his hand. She was able to free herself. Although the alleged incident took place decades ago and the three individuals involved were minors, the woman said that the memory had been a source of ongoing distress for her, and that she had sought psychological treatment as a result.
Information about the accusation comes a day Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-CA) released a cryptic statement announcing that she had “received information from an individual concerning the nomination of Brett Kavanaugh to the Supreme Court” and had referred that information to the FBI.
Within half an hour of the New Yorker publishing its story, Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-IA) — chair of the Senate Judiciary Committee — released a statement signed by 65 women who knew Kavanaugh around the time of sexual assault allegation.
The women claim that “[f]or the entire time we have known Brett Kavanaugh, he has behaved honorably and treated women with respect.”
65 women of bipartisan backgrounds who knew Judge Kavanaugh in high school: "For the entire time we have known Brett Kavanaugh, he has behaved honorably and treated women with respect" & has "stood out for his friendship, character, and integrity" #SCOTUS https://t.co/9dT54BC2qM pic.twitter.com/5QtcPfwjX5
— Senate Judiciary (@senjudiciary) September 14, 2018
But Grassley’s attempt to undercut the sexual assault accusations against Kavanaugh is a poor one. Treating women well in one set of circumstances certainly doesn’t mean someone is incapable of assaulting them in another.
Next: a letter from all the people that Jeffrey Dahmer didn't eat.
— The Rude Pundit (@rudepundit) September 14, 2018
I would imagine that the typical sexual assaulter also comes across dozens of women who he does not sexually assault. It seems immaterial.
— Matthew Yglesias (@mattyglesias) September 14, 2018
The letter also doesn’t directly address the allegations against Kavanaugh, raising questions about whether the women who signed it knew their signatures would ultimately be used by Republicans in an attempt to discredit a sexual assault accusation.
Does this not make clear that they knew about this some time ago and kept it hidden? https://t.co/VosaH0vYMH
— Josh Marshall (@joshtpm) September 14, 2018
Character reference letters are commonly deployed by men accused of sexual misconduct. For instance, after he was credibly accused of child molestation late last year, failed GOP U.S. Senate candidate Roy Moore released testimonials from 12 women who spoke to what a quality person they believed him to be.
— Judd Legum (@JuddLegum) September 14, 2018
Grassley wasn’t the only Republican who made an embarrassing, reflexive attempt to defend Kavanaugh. On Twitter, another member of the Judiciary Committee, Sen. John Cornyn (R-TX), mocked the accusation as nothing more than hearsay.
Sen @JohnCornyn dismisses the sexual assault allegations against Brett Kavanaugh with a mocking retweet.
Gross, but on brand for Trump’s Republican Party. pic.twitter.com/XdeLO5t2I1
— Aaron Rupar (@atrupar) September 14, 2018
Meanwhile, Conn Carroll, communications director for a third member of the Judiciary Committee, Sen. Mike Lee (R-UT), insisted that Republicans were just thinking ahead when they decided to solicit signatures from women on a letter vouching for Kavanaugh’s character — because of course Democrats would fabricate allegations against him.
LOL, okay. pic.twitter.com/DxlyjjQYQO
— Gary Legum (@GaryLegum) September 14, 2018
Kavanaugh, via the White House, released a statement saying, “I categorically and unequivocally deny this allegation. I did not do this back in high school or at any time.”
Trump, of course, has also unequivocally denied sexual assault allegations made against him.