The Morning Jolt


To Testify, or Not to Testify, That Is the Question

Supreme Court nominee judge Brett Kavanaugh testifies during his Senate Judiciary Committee confirmation hearing on Capitol Hill in Washington, D.C., September 5, 2018. (Chris Wattie/Reuters)

Making the click-through worthwhile: How Christine Blasey Ford within three days went from “ready to go” and willing “to do whatever is necessary” to lamenting being rushed, why you can’t let death threats prevent you from living your life, and a Democratic congresswoman near the center of the allegations against Brett Kavanaugh offers an implausible characterization of his accuser.

From ‘Ready to Go’ and ‘Do Whatever Is Necessary’ to ‘Stop the Rush’ within Three Days

Most people can tell that something extremely strange is going on regarding Christine Blasey Ford, accuser of Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh.

Her lawyer had her submit to a polygraph test and she passed. She discussed her accusation, on the record, with the Washington Post. By midday Monday, Ford’s lawyer, Debra Katz, appeared on CNN and seemed irritated that the Senate Judiciary Committee hadn’t yet invited her to testify. “We’ve heard from no one. We’ve seen various statements made on television, but statements that are being bandied about for political reasons. But no one’s asked her, no . . . She decided to take control of this and tell this in her own voice.”

Later that day, the committee delayed the Kavanaugh vote, and scheduled another hearing regarding the accusation for the following Monday. (Senate rules require a week’s notice of hearings, barring extenuating circumstances.) Katz told the New York Times that Ford was “ready to go before the committee.” She told the Washington Law Journal, “My client will do whatever is necessary to make sure that the Senate Judiciary Committee has the full story and the full set of allegations to allow them to make a fully informed decision.”

That all seemed clear and emphatic. The stage was set for the most important, controversial, and high-profile Supreme Court confirmation hearing since Clarence Thomas and Anita Hill.

And then, once the Senate Judiciary Committee offered Ford the option of an open hearing or a closed hearing, whichever she preferred . . . suddenly she and her lawyers insisted that the hearing shouldn’t occur until the FBI had completed an investigation of an alleged crime committed 36 years ago, with no specific date, no specific location, a denial by the accused, and two witnesses that say they don’t remember anything like the accusation happening. Oh, and it’s not a federal crime.

By last night, another one of Ford’s attorneys issued a statement declaring, “The rush to a hearing is unnecessary, and contrary to the Committee discovering the truth.” Three days earlier, her lawyers were declaring publicly that she was “ready to go” and willing to “do whatever is necessary.” Somehow, within three days, the process became “a rush.”

And now there’s some odd evidence that after complaining on CNN about not being contacted by the committee, Katz’s lawyers are ignoring the phone calls and emails from the committee. Around 1 a.m. this morning, Mike Davis, the Senate Judiciary Committee’s chief counsel for nominations, tweeted, “I personally questioned Judge Kavanaugh under penalty of felony and 5 years of imprisonment, if he lies. I’m still waiting to hear back from the accuser’s attorneys, who can’t find time between TV appearances to get back to me.”

New York senator Kirsten Gillibrand is now making the Orwellian claim that “forcing her into a sham hearing is silencing her.” Gillibrand contends that the hearing is a “sham” because the committee has not scheduled an appearance from Mark Judge or Patrick Smyth, who Ford claims were at the party. Both Judge and Smith have issued statements that they have no memory of anything like the described events or party.

Inviting someone to speak, on the record, with their preferred option on the presence of television cameras, is the opposite of silencing them.

As of this moment, it appears that Christine Blasey Ford will not appear before the Senate Judiciary Committee this coming Monday, a turn of events that seems pretty mind-boggling considering how things stood Monday night. And while Democrats no doubt will attempt to shift the debate to how the mean, nasty committee isn’t willing to give Ford everything she wants before testifying, even their sympathetic media observers will be unable to avoid noticing that Ford was willing to make her accusations in a media interview but not willing to repeat them under oath under penalty of perjury.

Jeffrey Toobin on CNN last night:

“If she refuses to testify on Monday, Brett Kavanaugh is getting confirmed. Jeff Flake has said that, Susan Collins has said that, if she maintains that this is a sham investigation and I’m not taking part, he’s getting confirmed… She’s got to decide whether she wants to testify or not. It’s a hard decision. Everybody should be clear about what the stakes are. If she does not testify, he’s getting confirmed.”

You Can’t Let Raging Lunatics on the Internet Make the Decisions for Your Life

Ford’s lawyers also said, “She is currently unable to go home, and is receiving ongoing threats to her and her family’s safety.”

That’s awful; no one should have to go through that. Those who are making the threats should be identified and face the appropriate criminal penalties.

Death threats are terrifying and illegal. But they’re ubiquitous in the Internet age, and they’re sent to everyone who’s in the public eye in any capacity: comedians, movie reviewers, bank employees, sports referees, pollsters. Thankfully, the overwhelming majority of those who send them never actually follow up on their threats. I used to get questions about how to handle death threats back at blogger conferences, and my advice was that after notifying the appropriate authorities, go live your life. The odds are extremely high that absolutely nothing will happen. You’re probably not in a Salman Rushdie situation. If you’re really concerned that this isn’t just some angry loser living in his parents’ basement raging impotently, notify and consult local law enforcement. But beyond that, you can’t let the lunatics win.

Ford may choose to testify, or she may choose to not testify, but if she chooses not to because some nut job found her email account, she’s letting that nut job make the decision for her.

‘She Doesn’t Have a Political Bone in Her Body.’

Congresswoman Anna Eshoo, describing Christine Blasey Ford to the Washington Post: “She doesn’t have a political bone in her body.”

This is a mildly surprising thing to hear about a Palo Alto University psychiatry professor who made small but repeated donations to the Democratic National Committee and Bernie Sanders’s presidential campaign, attended the Women’s March, wore a pink-yarned “brain hat” at the March for Science, and signed a letter calling for the end of the policy of separating children from their parents at the border.

Her partisan affiliation doesn’t tell us one thing or another about whether her accusation is credible. So, can we be honest about it? Can we just say she’s a Democrat? She’s got a political bone in her body. That doesn’t mean she’s lying.

But it now appears Eshoo is lying by making a characterization of Ford that is contrary to known facts.

ADDENDA: I offer my pre-congratulations to Hugh Hewitt and his beloved Cleveland Browns; the Jets’ deflated performance Sunday makes me strongly suspect that the Browns non-victory streak will end tonight.

David Bahnsen, a trustee at the National Review Institute, just happens to be named on the Forbes’ 2018 List of Top Wealth Advisors and the Barron’s 2018 List of Top 100 Independent Financial Advisors. Pretty good guy to know!

This is the 490th day of special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation.

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