TICK TOCK: GOP Votes to Give Graham Broad Subpoena Power in Obamagate Probe

WASHINGTON — The Senate Judiciary Committee voted Thursday to subpoena over 50 witnesses as Republicans step up their investigation into the 2016 Russia probe.

By a 12-10 vote, Republicans on the panel gave Chairman Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) sweeping authority to subpoena the individuals to testify, many of whom include high-profile Obama administration officials. Documents detailing what Obama knew at the time of the probe were also ordered to be turned over.

“I find myself in a position where I think we need to look long and hard about how the Mueller investigation got off the rails,” Graham said on Thursday. “This committee is not going to sit on the sidelines and move on.”

President Donald Trump has called for former president Barack Obama, himself, to be called before the panel to testify.

“If I were a Senator or Congressman, the first person I would call to testify about the biggest political crime and scandal in the history of the USA, by FAR, is former President Obama,” the president tweeted. “He knew EVERYTHING. Do it @LindseyGrahamSC, just do it. No more Mr. Nice Guy. No more talk!”

So far Graham has indicate that he is not ready to take such a drastic step just yet.

“It’d be a bad precedent to compel a former president to come before the Congress,” Graham said. “That would open up a can of worms and for a variety of reasons I don’t think that’s a good idea.”

’12 ANGRY DEMOCRATS’: Mueller protection bill blocked in Senate

WASHINGTON (The Hill) — Legislation protecting special counsel Robert Mueller was blocked on Wednesday for a second time in the past month.

Sen. Jeff Flake (R-Ariz.), joined by Sens. Christopher Coons (D-Del.) and Cory Booker (D-N.J.), tried to get consent to schedule the long-stalled legislation for a vote.

Flake questioned why his colleagues weren’t “up in arms” after a string of tweets from President Trump bashing Mueller’s investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election.

“With the president tweeting on a regular basis, a daily basis, that the special counsel is conflicted, that he is leading so-called 12 angry Democrats and demeaning and ridiculing him in every way, to be so sanguine about the chances of him being fired is folly for us,” Flake said.

Trump in a tweet hours before Flake’s request blasted Mueller’s probe into Russian election interference and possible collusion between the president’s campaign and Moscow as the “angry Mueller gang of Dems” and exclaimed that it is “our Joseph McCarthy era.”

But GOP Sen. Mike Lee (Utah) objected to voting on the legislation, arguing the bill had constitutional issues.

“As Justice Scalia explains, we cannot convert an office like this one … without creating a de facto fourth branch of government fundamentally undermining the principles of the separation of powers that is so core to our liberty,” Lee said.

Flake pledged that they would come back to the Senate floor to try to set up the bill for a vote again.

Under the upper chamber’s rules, senators can go to the floor to request a vote or passage of any bill or nomination. But any one senator can block their requests.

The floor drama comes after Senate Majority Whip John Cornyn (R-Texas) said Republican leadership was measuring support for the bill to try resolve a standoff with Flake, who is voting against judicial nominees until the Mueller protection bill gets a vote.

“We’re whipping that to see where people are. I think the leader needs that information to decide how to manage all the competing demands on our time,” Cornyn said when asked about discussions within the Republican caucus about the legislation.

But there is still fierce opposition to the bill within the GOP caucus, and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) called it a “solution in search of a problem” on Tuesday.

The president has stepped up his Twitter attacks on Mueller’s probe in recent days amid several new revelations, including the special counsel’s charge that former Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort had violated his plea agreement.

New reports emerged on Tuesday that Manafort’s attorney had been sharing information with attorneys for Trump on his former campaign aide’s cooperation with the Mueller probe.

Trump after the midterm elections forced Attorney General Jeff Sessions to resign and named Matthew Whitaker, Sessions’s chief of staff, as acting attorney general. Whitaker, who has criticized the Mueller probe, is now overseeing it in place of Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein.

The Senate Judiciary Committee passed legislation that would protect Mueller, or any other special counsel, in the event he is fired, but the bill has stalled amid opposition from GOP leadership.

The bill would codify Justice Department regulations that say only a senior department official could fire Mueller or another special counsel.

It would give a special counsel an “expedited review” of their firing. If a court determines that it wasn’t for “good cause,” the special counsel would be reinstated.

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HE’S OUT! Trump forces out AG Jeff Sessions in fallout over midterms

WASHINGTON (AP) — Attorney General Jeff Sessions was pushed out Wednesday as the country’s chief law enforcement officer after enduring more than a year of blistering and personal attacks from President Donald Trump over his recusal from the Russia investigation.

Sessions told the president in a one-page letter that he was submitting his resignation “at your request.”

Trump announced in a tweet that he was naming Sessions’ chief of staff Matthew Whitaker, a former United States attorney from Iowa, as acting attorney general. Whitaker has criticized special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation into potential coordination between the president’s Republican campaign and Russia.

The resignation was the culmination of a toxic relationship that frayed just weeks into the attorney general’s tumultuous tenure, when he stepped aside from the Mueller investigation.

Trump blamed the decision for opening the door to the appointment of Mueller, who took over the Russia investigation and began examining whether Trump’s hectoring of Sessions was part of a broader effort to obstruct justice and stymie the probe.

Asked whether Whitaker would assume control over Mueller’s investigation, Justice Department spokeswoman Sarah Flores said Whitaker would be “in charge of all matters under the purview of the Department of Justice.” The Justice Department did not announce a departure for Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein, who appointed Mueller more than a year and a half ago and has closely overseen his work since then.

Whitaker once opined about a situation in which Trump could fire Sessions and then appoint an acting attorney general who could stifle the funding of Mueller’s probe.

“So I could see a scenario where Jeff Sessions is replaced with a recess appointment and that attorney general doesn’t fire Bob Mueller, but he just reduces his budget to so low that his investigation grinds to almost a halt,” Whitaker said during an interview with CNN in July 2017.

Asked if that would be to dwindle the special counsel’s resources, Whitaker responded, “Right.”

In an op-ed for CNN, Whitaker wrote: “Mueller has come up to a red line in the Russia 2016 election-meddling investigation that he is dangerously close to crossing.”

The relentless attacks on Sessions came even though the Alabama Republican was the first U.S. senator to endorse Trump and despite the fact that his crime-fighting agenda and priorities — particularly his hawkish immigration enforcement policies — largely mirrored the president’s.

But the relationship was irreparably damaged in March 2017 when Sessions, acknowledging previously undisclosed meetings with the Russian ambassador and citing his work as a campaign aide, recused himself from the Russia investigation.

The decision infuriated Trump, who repeatedly lamented that he would have never selected Sessions if he had known the attorney general would recuse. The recusal left the investigation in the hands of Rosenstein, who appointed Mueller as special counsel two months later after Trump fired then-FBI Director James Comey.

The rift lingered for the duration of Sessions’ tenure, and the attorney general, despite praising the president’s agenda and hewing to his priorities, never managed to return to Trump’s good graces.

The deteriorating relationship became a soap opera stalemate for the administration. Trump belittled Sessions but, perhaps following the advice of aides, held off on firing him. The attorney general, for his part, proved determined to remain in the position until dismissed. A logjam broke when Republican senators who had publicly backed Sessions began signaling a willingness to consider a new attorney general.

In attacks delivered on Twitter, in person and in interviews, Trump called Sessions weak and beleaguered, complained that he wasn’t more aggressively pursuing allegations of corruption against Democratic rival Hillary Clinton and called it “disgraceful” that Sessions wasn’t more serious in scrutinizing the origins of the Russia investigation for possible law enforcement bias — even though the attorney general did ask the Justice Department’s inspector general to look into those claims.

The broadsides escalated in recent months, with Trump telling a television interviewer that Sessions “had never had control” of the Justice Department and snidely accusing him on Twitter of not protecting Republican interests by allowing two GOP congressmen to be indicted before the election.

Sessions endured most of the name-calling in silence, though he did issue two public statements defending the department, including one in which he said he would serve “with integrity and honor” for as long as he was in the job.

The recusal from the Russia investigation allowed him to pursue the conservative issues he had long championed as a senator, often in isolation among fellow Republicans.

He found satisfaction in being able to reverse Obama-era policies that he and other conservatives say flouted the will of Congress, including by encouraging prosecutors to pursue the most serious charges they could and by promoting more aggressive enforcement of federal marijuana law. He also announced media leak crackdowns, tougher policies against opioids and his Justice Department defended a since-abandoned administration policy that resulted in parents being separated from their children at the border.

His agenda unsettled liberals who said that Sessions’ focus on tough prosecutions marked a return to failed drug war tactics that unduly hurt minorities and the poor, and that his rollbacks of protections for gay and transgender people amount to discrimination.

Some Democrats also considered Sessions too eager to do Trump’s bidding and overly receptive to his grievances.

Sessions, for instance, directed senior prosecutors to examine potential corruption in a uranium field transaction that some Republicans have said may have implicated Clinton in wrongdoing and benefited donors of the Clinton Foundation. He also fired one of the president’s primary antagonists, former FBI deputy director Andrew McCabe, just before he was to have retired — a move Trump hailed as a “great day for democracy.”

Despite it all, Sessions never found himself back in favor with the president.

Their relationship wasn’t always fractured. Sessions was a close campaign aide, attending national security meetings and introducing him at rallies in a red “Make America Great Again” hat.

But the problems started after he told senators during his confirmation hearing that he had never met with Russians during the campaign. The Justice Department, responding to a Washington Post report, soon acknowledged that Sessions had actually had two encounters during the campaign with the then-Russian ambassador. He recused himself the next day, saying it would be inappropriate to oversee an investigation into a campaign he was part of.

The announcement set off a frenzy inside the White House, with Trump directing his White House counsel to call Sessions beforehand and urge him not to step aside. Sessions rejected the entreaty. Mueller’s team, which has interviewed Sessions, has been investigating the president’s attacks on him and his demands to have a loyalist in charge of the Russia investigation.

Sessions had been protected for much of his tenure by the support of Senate Republicans, including Judiciary Committee Chairman Chuck Grassley, who had said he would not schedule a confirmation hearing for another attorney general if Trump fired him.

But that support began to fade, with Grassley suggesting over the summer that he might have time for a hearing after all.

And Republican Sen. Lindsey Graham, another Judiciary Committee member who once said there’d be “holy hell to pay” if Trump fired Sessions, called the relationship “dysfunctional” and said he thought the president had the right after the midterm to select a new attorney general.

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REPORT: Judicial Watch lawsuit seeks records on Hillary Clinton’s security clearance

WASHINGTON— Judicial Watch announced Thursday that it filed a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) lawsuit against the U.S. State Department requesting all records regarding the security clearance status of former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and four of her top aides during her tenure at the State Department.

Clinton’s security clearance reportedly was withdrawn at her request on August 30 – which is nine days after Judicial Watch filed an August 21 FOIA request seeking information on the former Secretary of State’s security clearance status.

Judicial Watch filed its lawsuit (Judicial Watch v. U.S. Department of State (1:18-cv-02496)) in the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia after the State Department failed to respond to the August 21 FOIA request seeking:

Any and all records concerning, regarding, or relating to the security clearance status of Clinton, Huma Abedin, Cheryl Mills, Jacob Sullivan and Phillipe Reines.

In a September 21 letter to Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Charles Grassley, Acting Assistant Secretary for Legislative Affairs Charles S. Faulkner said that, at her request, Clinton’s security clearance was “administratively withdrawn” on August 30.

The letter added that, on September 20, security clearances were “administratively withdrawn” for Clinton aide Cheryl Mills and four other redacted names who “had been granted access to classified information through a request made by Secretary Clinton designating them as researchers.” The letter also suggests that Mrs. Clinton and her aides may have been cited for “valid security incidents.”

An October 12 news release from the Senate Judiciary Committee said that the news on Clinton’s security clearance was part of an update from the State Department of “its ongoing review of the mishandling of classified information related to the use of Clinton’s non-government email server…. Department authorities are continuing to review tens of thousands of documents for classified content.”

“The State Department needs to provide the full truth on the security clearances of Hillary Clinton and her top aides,” Judicial Watch President Tom Fitton said, “and why the agency allowed Mrs. Clinton to keep her clearance despite her mishandling of classified information and related false statements.”

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TICK TOCK: Grassley files criminal referral against Michael Avenatti and woman who accused Brett Kavanaugh of sexual misconduct

WASHINGTON — Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Chuck Grassley on Thursday announced he’s referred attorney Michael Avenatti and Kavanaugh accuser Julie Swetnick for criminal investigation regarding a potential “conspiracy” to provide false statements to Congress and to obstruct justice.

Avenatti, who represented porn star Stormy Daniels in a failed defamation suit against President Donald Trump, also represented Swetnick, who accused newly appointed Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh of being part of “gang” and “train” rapes at high school parties she claims to have attended in the 1980s, claims that Kavanaugh has vehemently denied.

In a letter written to Attorney General Jeff Sessions and FBI Director Christopher Wray on Thursday, Grassley questioned the timing of Swetnick and Avenatti’s allegations.

“When a well-meaning citizen comes forward with information relevant to the committee’s work, I take it seriously. It takes courage to come forward, especially with allegations of sexual misconduct or personal trauma. I’m grateful for those who find that courage,” Grassley wrote.

“But in the heat of partisan moments, some do try to knowingly mislead the committee. That’s unfair to my colleagues, the nominees, and others providing information who are seeking the truth,” Grassley went on. “It stifles our ability to work on legitimate lines of inquiry. It also wastes time and resources for destructive reasons.”

In the letter, Grassley called out contradictory statements made by both Avenatti and Swetnick in media interviews, specifically citing an NBC interview on Oct. 1, when Swetnick withdrew a claim that she saw Kavanaugh spiking punch at the parties with alcohol and/or drugs.

“I saw [Kavanaugh] giving red solo cups to quite a few girls,” Swetnick later admitted during the interview, adding that she didn’t “know what he did.”

Swetnick merely claimed she “saw him” by the punch—a comment that contradicted her sworn statement to the committee, Grassley pointed out.

An angry Avenatti was quick to fire back.

“This is clearly political,” he told Fox News. “And fortunately for us, Senator Grassley isn’t too smart — or I should say bright. This was a major mistake on his part. He just cracked open the door and I’m going to drive a Mack Truck through it.”

Avenatti then took to Twitter to call Grassley out, referencing what he referred to as Justice Kavanaugh’s ongoing “lies”.

“It is ironic that Senator Grassley now is interested in investigations,” Avenatti tweeted. “He didn’t care when it came to putting a man on the SCOTUS for life. We welcome the investigation as now we can finally get to the bottom of Judge Kavanaugh’s lies and conduct. Let the truth be known.”

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THE DRAMA GOES ON: GOP, Dems battle over FBI’S report on Kavanaugh

WASHINGTON (AP) — A high-stakes partisan row quickly broke out Thursday over a confidential FBI report about allegations that Brett Kavanaugh sexually abused women three decades ago, with Republicans claiming investigators found “no hint of misconduct” and Democrats accusing the White House of slapping crippling constraints on the probe.

The battling commenced as the conservative jurist’s prospects for winning Senate confirmation to the Supreme Court remained at the mercy of five undeclared senators, with an initial, critical vote looming Friday. It followed the FBI’s early-morning release of its investigation, which President Donald Trump reluctantly ordered under pressure from a handful of senators.

“There’s nothing in it that we didn’t already know,” Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa, said in a written statement. He said he based his view on a briefing from committee aides and added, “This investigation found no hint of misconduct.”

In a potential sign of momentum for Kavanaugh, Sen. Jeff Flake, R-Ariz., told CNN that “we’ve seen no additional corroborating information” and said the investigation had been comprehensive. Flake, who’s not stated his position on the nomination, was among three Republicans who pressed Trump to order the renewed FBI background check.

Another GOP lawmakers who has publicly taken no stance, Susan Collins of Maine, called the probe “a very thorough investigation” and said she’d read the documents later. Alaska’s Lisa Murkowski said she’d read the report.

Other Republicans who’d already voiced support for Kavanaugh echoed Grassley, saying after a briefing that there’d been no corroboration of wrongdoing by Kavanaugh. Said Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., “The senators who requested the supplemental background check got what they requested, and I am ready to vote.”

Democrats Heidi Heitkamp of North Dakota and Joe Manchin of West Virginia have also not declared how they will vote.

Top Democrats fired back at Grassley after getting their own briefing.

The Judiciary panel’s top Democrat, Dianne Feinstein of California, said it appeared that the White House had “blocked the FBI from doing its job.” She said that while Democrats had agreed to limit the probe’s scope, “we did not agree that the White House should tie the FBI’s hands.”

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., has already started a process that will produce a crucial test vote in his polarized chamber Friday on Kavanaugh’s fate. Should Republicans get the majority of votes they need — and Vice President Mike Pence is available to cast the tie-breaker, if necessary — that would set up a decisive roll call on his confirmation, likely over the weekend.

Several senators said 10 witnesses were interviewed for the report. One senator said it was about 50 pages long.

Sen. John Kennedy, R-La., said agents reached out to 10 but spoke only to nine. He said five were witnesses connected to accusations by Christine Blasey Ford and four involved a separate claim by Deborah Ramirez.

Feinstein complained Thursday that agents had not interviewed Kavanaugh or Ford, who has testified that he sexually attacked her in a locked bedroom during a high school gathering in 1982. Feinstein also said attorneys for Ramirez, who’s claimed Kavanaugh exposed himself to her when both were Yale freshmen, had no indication the FBI had reached out to people she’d offered for corroboration.

Grassley said the FBI could not “locate any third parties who can attest to any of the allegations,” and he said there is “no contemporaneous evidence.” He provided no specifics.

Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., said Democrats’ fears that the “very limited process” laid out for the investigation would restrain the FBI “have been realized.”

He also said, “I disagree with Sen. Grassley’s statement that there was no hint of misconduct.” Neither side provided any detail about what the report said, constrained by years-old arrangements that require the results of FBI background checks to remain confidential.

Earlier, White House spokesman Raj Shah rebuffed Democrats’ complaints, saying, “What critics want is a never-ending fishing expedition into high school drinking.” He said the FBI reached out to 10 people and interviewed nine, including “several individuals at the request of the Senate, and had a series of follow-up interviews … following certain leads.”

While the FBI interviews were to focus on sexual assault allegations, Democrats have also questioned Kavanaugh’s drinking habits during high school and college and dishonest comments they say he has made about his background. Kavanaugh has said stories of his bad behavior while drinking are exaggerated.

Three women have accused him of sexual misconduct in separate incidents in the 1980s. Kavanaugh, 53, now a judge on the powerful District of Columbia Circuit Court of Appeals, has denied the claims.

The White House received the FBI report around 3 a.m. Thursday.

Trump weighed in hours later in a tweet in which he denounced what he called “the harsh and unfair treatment” of Kavanaugh. “This great life cannot be ruined by mean” and “despicable Democrats and totally uncorroborated allegations!”

Democratic Sen. Tammy Duckworth of Illinois told reporters Thursday that time slots for reading the FBI file are so full that senators are being told they might have to wait until Friday to read it. “They’re so swamped,” she said.

The report arrived at a Capitol palpably tense over the political stakes of the nomination fight and from aggressive anti-Kavanaugh protesters who have rattled and reportedly harassed senators. Feeding the anxiety was an unusually beefy presence of the U.S. Capitol Police, who were keeping demonstrators and frequently reporters at arm’s length by forming wedges around lawmakers walking through corridors.

Barring leaks, it was unclear how much of the FBI report, if any, would be made public. While senators from both sides have expressed support for revealing at least parts of the findings, FBI background checks on nominees are supposed to remain confidential.

With Republicans clinging to a razor-thin 51-49 Senate majority and five senators — including three Republicans — still publicly undeclared, the conservative jurist’s prospects of Senate confirmation could hinge largely on the file’s contents.

Underscoring rising tensions, Democrats suggested that previous FBI background checks of Kavanaugh may have unearthed misconduct by the nominee.

Democrats wrote to Grassley challenging a Tuesday tweet by GOP aides saying prior investigations never found “a whiff of ANY issue — at all — related in any way to inappropriate sexual behavior or alcohol abuse.” Democrats wrote that the GOP tweet contained information that is “not accurate.”

Committee Republicans tweeted in response that their prior tweet was “completely truthful” and accused Democrats of “false smears.”

Ford, now a California psychology professor, has testified that when the drunken Kavanaugh attacked her, she believed he was trying to rape her.

The FBI interviewed several people, including three who Ford has said attended a 1982 high school gathering in suburban Maryland where she says Kavanaugh’s attack occurred, plus another Kavanaugh friend. The agency has also spoken to a second woman, Deborah Ramirez, who has claimed Kavanaugh exposed himself to her at a Yale party when both were freshmen.


Associated Press writers Eric Tucker, Michael Balsamo, Catherine Lucey, Zeke Miller, Padmananda Rama, Matthew Daly, Mary Clare Jalonick and Kevin Freking contributed to the contents of this report.

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‘JUST PLAIN WRONG’: Three Senators holding Kavanaugh’s fate condemn Trump’s criticism of Ford

WASHINGTON — Three Republican Senators who have still not committed to a vote to confirm embattled nominee Brett Kavanaugh to the U.S. Supreme Court came out swinging Wednesday against comments made by President Donald Trump in which he criticized Kavanaugh’s accuser, Christine Blasey-Ford.

During a Mississippi rally on Tuesday night, Trump mocked Ford, who has accused the president’s nominee of sexual assault, citing the professor’s inability to remember key facts to support her claims.

“I had one beer.” “Well do you think it was… ‘Nope. It was one beer,'” the president said, mimicking Ford’s voice. “Oh good. How did you get home? ‘I don’t remember.’ How did you get there? ‘I don’t remember.’ Where is the place? ‘I don’t remember.’ How many years ago was it? ‘I don’t know. I don’t know. I don’t know.'”

“What neighborhood was it in? ‘I don’t know,'” the president continued. “Where’s the house? ‘I don’t know. Upstairs. Downstairs. I don’t know. But I had one beer that’s the only thing I remember.'”

“The President’s comments were just plain wrong,” Maine Sen. Susan Collins told reporters before heading into a hearing of the Senate aging committee, which she chairs.

Alaska Sen. Lisa Murkowski echoed Collins’ comments as she spoke to reporters Wednesday before walking out to the Senate floor.

“I thought the President’s comments yesterday mocking Dr. Ford were wholly inappropriate and in my view unacceptable,” Murkowski said.

Arizona Senator Jeff Flake, who through the Kavanaugh confirmation hearing into an uproar last week after asking for an FBI investigation into Ford’s allegations called the president’s comments “appalling” after being swarmed by the press.

Although Flake at first refused to say whether the president’s comments would sway the outcome of his vote, he later said that Trump’s remarks would have no bearing on his decision either way.

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FORD TESTIFIES: Christine Blasey- Ford’s prepared testimony and opening remarks regarding alleged assault by SCOTUS nominee Brett Kavanaugh

Washington — Written Testimony of Dr. Christine Blasey Ford United States Senate Judiciary Committee September 26, 2018

Chairman Grassley, Ranking Member Feinstein, Members of the Committee. My name is Christine Blasey Ford.

I am a Professor of Psychology at Palo Alto University and a Research Psychologist at the Stanford University School of Medicine. I was an undergraduate at the University of North Carolina and earned my degree in Experimental Psychology in 1988. I received a Master’s degree in 1991 in Clinical Psychology from Pepperdine University. In 1996, I received a PhD in Educational Psychology from the University of Southern California. I earned a Master’s degree in Epidemiology from the Stanford University School of Medicine in 2009.

I have been married to Russell Ford since 2002 and we have two children. I am here today not because I want to be. I am terrified. I am here because I believe it is my civic duty to tell you what happened to me while Brett Kavanaugh and I were in high school. I have described the events publicly before.

I summarized them in my letter to Ranking Member Feinstein, and again in my letter to Chairman Grassley. I understand and appreciate the importance of your hearing from me directly about what happened to me and the impact it has had on my life and on my family.

I grew up in the suburbs of Washington, D.C. I attended the Holton-Arms School in Bethesda, Maryland, from 1980 to 1984. Holton-Arms is an all-girls school that opened in 1901. During my time at the school, girls at Holton-Arms frequently met and became friendly with boys from all-boys schools in the area, including Landon School, Georgetown Prep, Gonzaga High School, country clubs, and other places where kids and their families socialized.

This is how I met Brett Kavanaugh, the boy who sexually assaulted me. In my freshman and sophomore school years, when I was 14 and 15 years old, my group of friends intersected with Brett and his friends for a short period of time. I had been friendly with a classmate of Brett’s for a short time during my freshman year, and it was through that connection that I attended a number of parties that Brett also attended.

We did not know each other well, but I knew him and he knew me. In the summer of 1982, like most summers, I spent almost every day at the Columbia Country Club in Chevy Chase, Maryland swimming and practicing diving. One evening that summer, after a day of swimming at the club, I attended a small gathering at a house in the Chevy Chase/Bethesda area. There were four boys I remember being there: Brett Kavanaugh, Mark Judge, P.J. Smyth, and one other boy whose name I cannot recall. I remember my friend Leland Ingham attending. I do not remember all of the details of how that gathering came together, but like many that summer, it was almost surely a spur of the moment gathering. I truly wish I could provide detailed answers to all of the questions that have been and will be asked about how I got to the party, where it took place, and so forth.

I don’t have all the answers, and I don’t remember as much as I would like to. But the details about that night that bring me here today are ones I will never forget. They have been seared into my memory and have haunted me episodically as an adult.

When I got to the small gathering, people were drinking beer in a small living room on the first floor of the house. I drank one beer that evening. Brett and Mark were visibly drunk. Early in the evening, I went up a narrow set of stairs leading from the living room to a second floor to use the bathroom. When I got to the top of the stairs, I was pushed from behind into a bedroom.

I couldn’t see who pushed me. Brett and Mark came into the bedroom and locked the door behind them. There was music already playing in the bedroom. It was turned up louder by either Brett or Mark once we were in the room.

I was pushed onto the bed and Brett got on top of me. He began running his hands over my body and grinding his hips into me. I yelled, hoping someone downstairs might hear me, and tried to get away from him, but his weight was heavy. Brett groped me and tried to take off my clothes. He had a hard time because he was so drunk, and because I was wearing a one-piece bathing suit under my clothes. I believed he was going to rape me. I tried to yell for help. When I did, Brett put his hand over my mouth to stop me from screaming. This was what terrified me the most, and has had the most lasting impact on my life. It was hard for me to breathe, and I thought that Brett was accidentally going to kill me. Both Brett and Mark were drunkenly laughing during the attack. They both seemed to be having a good time. Mark was urging Brett on, although at times he told Brett to stop.

A couple of times I made eye contact with Mark and thought he might try to help me, but he did not. During this assault, Mark came over and jumped on the bed twice while Brett was on top of me. The last time he did this, we toppled over and Brett was no longer on top of me. I was able to get up and run out of the room. Directly across from the bedroom was a small bathroom. I ran inside the bathroom and locked the door. I heard Brett and Mark leave the bedroom laughing and loudly walk down the narrow stairs, pin-balling off the walls on the way down. I waited and when I did not hear them come back up the stairs, I left the bathroom, ran down the stairs, through the living room, and left the house. I remember being on the street and feeling an enormous sense of relief that I had escaped from the house and that Brett and Mark were not coming after me.

Brett’s assault on me drastically altered my life. For a very long time, I was too afraid and ashamed to tell anyone the details. I did not want to tell my parents that I, at age 15, was in a house without any parents present, drinking beer with boys. I tried to convince myself that because Brett did not rape me, I should be able to move on and just pretend that it had never happened.

Over the years, I told very few friends that I had this traumatic experience. I told my husband before we were married that I had experienced a sexual assault. I had never told the details to anyone until May 2012, during a couples counseling session. The reason this came up in counseling is that my husband and I had completed an extensive remodel of our home, and I insisted on a second front door, an idea that he and others disagreed with and could not understand.

In explaining why I wanted to have a second front door, I described the assault in detail. I recall saying that the boy who assaulted me could someday be on the U.S. Supreme Court and spoke a bit about his background. My husband recalls that I named my attacker as Brett Kavanaugh. After that May 2012 therapy session, I did my best to suppress memories of the assault because recounting the details caused me to relive the experience, and caused panic attacks and anxiety.

Occasionally I would discuss the assault in individual therapy, but talking about it caused me to relive the trauma, so I tried not to think about it or discuss it. But over the years, I went through periods where I thought about Brett’s attack. I confided in some close friends that I had an experience with sexual assault. Occasionally I stated that my assailant was a prominent lawyer or judge but I did not use his name. I do not recall each person I spoke to about Brett’s assault, and some friends have reminded me of these conversations since the publication of The Washington Post story on September 16, 2018.

But until July 2018, I had never named Mr. Kavanaugh as my attacker outside of therapy. This all changed in early July 2018. I saw press reports stating that Brett Kavanaugh was on the “short list” of potential Supreme Court nominees. I thought it was my civic duty to relay the information I had about Mr. Kavanaugh’s conduct
so that those considering his potential nomination would know about the assault.

On July 6, 2018, I had a sense of urgency to relay the information to the Senate and the President as soon as possible before a nominee was selected. I called my congressional representative and let her receptionist know that someone on the President’s shortlist had attacked me. I also sent a message to The Washington Post’s confidential tip line.

I did not use my name,but I provided the names of Brett Kavanaugh and Mark Judge. I stated that Mr. Kavanaugh had assaulted me in the 1980s in Maryland. This was an extremely hard thing for me to do, but I felt I couldn’t NOT do it. Over the next two days, I told a couple of close friends on the beach in California that Mr. Kavanaugh had sexually assaulted me. I was conflicted about whether to speak out. On July 9, 2018, I received a call from the office of Congresswoman Anna Eshoo after Mr. Kavanaugh had become the nominee. I met with her staff on July 11 and with her on July 13, describing the assault and discussing my fear about coming forward.

Later, we discussed the possibility of sending a letter to Ranking Member Feinstein, who is one of my state’s Senators, describing what occurred. My understanding is that
Representative Eshoo’s office delivered a copy of my letter to Senator Feinstein’s office on July 30, 2018. The letter included my name, but requested that the letter be kept confidential. My hope was that providing the information confidentially would be sufficient to allow the Senate to consider Mr. Kavanaugh’s serious misconduct without having to make myself, my family, or anyone’s family vulnerable to the personal attacks and invasions of privacy we have faced since my name became public.

In a letter on August 31, 2018, Senator Feinstein wrote that she would not share the letter without my consent. I greatly appreciated this commitment. All sexual assault victims should be able to decide for themselves whether their private experience made public.

As the hearing date got closer, I struggled with a terrible choice: Do I share the facts with the Senate and put myself and my family in the public spotlight? Or do I preserve our privacy and allow the Senate to make its decision on Mr. Kavanaugh’s nomination without knowing the full truth about his past behavior? I agonized daily with this decision throughout August and early September 2018. The sense of duty that motivated me to reach out confidentially to The Washington Post, Representative Eshoo’s office, and Senator Feinstein’s office was always there, but my fears of the consequences of speaking out started to increase.

During August 2018, the press reported that Mr. Kavanaugh’s confirmation
was virtually certain. His allies painted him as a champion of women’s rights and e
empowerment. I believed that if I came forward, my voice would be drowned out by a chorus of powerful supporters. By the time of the confirmation hearings, I had resigned myself to remaining quiet and letting the Committee and the Senate make their decision without knowing what Mr. Kavanaugh had done to me. Once the press started reporting on the existence of the letter I had sent to Senator Feinstein, I faced mounting pressure. Reporters appeared at my home and at my job demanding information about this letter, including in the presence of my graduate students. They called my boss and co-workers and left me many messages, making it clear that my name would inevitably be released to the media.

I decided to speak out publicly to a journalist who had responded to the tip I had sent to The Washington Post and who had gained my trust. It was important to me to describe the details of the assault in my own words.

Since September 16, the date of The Washington Post story, I have experienced an outpouring of support from people in every state of this country. Thousands of people who have had their lives dramatically altered by sexual violence have reached out to share their own experiences with me and have thanked me for coming forward. We have received tremendous support from friends and our community. At the same time, my greatest fears have been realized– and the reality has been far worse than what I expected.

My family and I have been the target of constant harassment and death threats. I have been called the most vile and hateful names imaginable. These messages, while far fewer than the expressions of support, have been terrifying to receive and have rocked me to my core. People have posted my personal information on the internet. This has resulted in additional emails, calls, and threats. My family and I were forced to move out of our home. Since September 16, my family and I have been living in various secure locales, with guards. This past Tuesday evening, my work email account was hacked and messages were sent out supposedly recanting my description of the sexual assault. Apart from the assault itself, these last couple of weeks have been the hardest of my life. I have had to relive my trauma in front of the entire world, and have seen my life picked apart by people on television, in the media, and in this body who have never met me or spoken with me. I have been accused of acting out of partisan political motives. Those who say that do not know me. I am a fiercely independent person and I am no one’s pawn.

My motivation in coming forward was to provide the facts about how Mr. Kavanaugh’s actions have damaged my life, so that you can take that into serious consideration as you make your decision about how to proceed. It is not my responsibility to determine whether Mr. Kavanaugh deserves to sit on the Supreme Court. My responsibility is to tell the truth.

I understand that the Majority has hired a professional prosecutor to ask me some questions, and I am committed to doing my very best to answer them. At the same time, because the Committee Members will be judging my credibility, I hope to be able to engage directly with each of you. At this point, I will do my best to answer your questions.

kavanaughvsford

KAVANAUGH TESTIFIES: Prepared opening remarks for SCOTUS nominee Brett Kavanaugh’s testimony on allegations of sexual misconduct

Washington — Prepared Written Testimony of Judge Brett M. Kavanaugh Nomination Hearing to Serve as an Associate Justice of the Supreme Court September 27, 2018 (submitted September 26, 2018)

Mr. Chairman, Ranking Member Feinstein, and Members of the Committee: Eleven days ago, Dr. Ford publicly accused me of committing a serious wrong more than 36 years ago when we were both in high school.

I denied the allegation immediately, unequivocally, and categorically. The next day, I told this Committee that I wanted to testify as soon as possible, under oath, to clear my name. Over the past few days, other false and uncorroborated accusations have been aired. There has been a frenzy to come up with something—anything, no matter how far-fetched or odious—that will block a vote on my nomination.

These are last-minute smears, pure and simple. They debase our public discourse. And the consequences extend beyond any one nomination. Such grotesque and obvious character assassination—if allowed to succeed—will dissuade competent and good people of all political persuasions from serving our country.

As I told this Committee the last time I appeared before you, a federal judge must be independent, not swayed by public or political pressure. That is the kind of judge I am and will always be. I will not be intimidated into withdrawing from this process. This effort to destroy my good name will not drive me out. The vile threats of violence against my family will not drive me out. I am here this morning to answer these allegations and to tell the truth. And the truth is that I have never sexually assaulted anyone—not in high school, not in college, not ever.

Sexual assault is horrific. It is morally wrong. It is illegal. It is contrary to my religious faith. And it contradicts the core promise of this Nation that all people are created equal and entitled to be treated with dignity and respect.

Allegations of sexual assault must be taken seriously. Those who make allegations deserve to be heard. The subject of allegations also deserves to be heard. Due process is a foundation of the American rule of law. Dr. Ford’s allegation dates back more than 36 years, to a party that she says occurred during our time in high school. I spent most of my time in high school focused on academics, sports, church, and service. But I was not perfect in those days, just as I am not perfect today. I drank beer with my friends, usually on weekends. Sometimes I had too many. In retrospect, I said and did things in high school that make me cringe now. But that’s not why we are here today.

What I’ve been accused of is far more serious than juvenile misbehavior. I never did anything remotely resembling what Dr. Ford describes. The allegation of misconduct is completely inconsistent with the rest of my life. The record of my life, from my days in grade school through the present day, shows that I have always promoted the equality and dignity of women. I categorically and unequivocally deny the allegation against me by Dr. Ford. I never had any sexual or physical encounter of any kind with Dr. Ford. I am not questioning that Dr. Ford may have been sexually assaulted by some person in some place at some time. But I have never done that to her or to anyone.

I am innocent of this charge.

<> on September 6, 2018 in Washington, DC.