At a rally in Mississippi on Tuesday, President Trump ridiculed Christine Blasey Ford’s testimony last week to the Senate Judiciary Committee. “ ‘I had one beer,’ ” Trump said. “ ‘How did you get home?’ ‘I don’t remember.’ ‘How’d 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.’ . . . ‘What neighborhood was it in?’ ‘I don’t know.’ ‘Where’s the house?’ ‘I don’t know.’ ‘Upstairs, downstairs — where was it?’ ‘I don’t know — but I had one beer. That’s the only thing I remember.’ ” The crowd roared its approval.
How on earth does Trump think this is helping? None of those cheering will have a say as to whether Brett M. Kavanaugh is confirmed to the Supreme Court. Only a handful of people will determine Kavanaugh’s fate. They include Sens. Susan Collins (R-Maine), Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska) and Jeff Flake (R-Ariz.). They were all justifiably appalled by Trump’s performance. Collins said, “The president’s comments were just plain wrong.” Murkowski said that they “were wholly inappropriate and in my view unacceptable.” Flake said, “To discuss something this sensitive at a political rally is just not right. It’s just not right.”
All three are fair-minded legislators who will not hold Kavanaugh responsible for Trump’s toxic remarks. But the last thing Kavanaugh needs right now is for a man who admitted that when he sees beautiful women, “I just start kissing them” — and worse — to inject himself into the debate. If Kavanaugh is confirmed, Trump will get the credit. Until then, Trump should keep his mouth shut.
But just as Kavanaugh should not be held accountable for Trump’s behavior, he should not be held responsible for all of our society’s ills. There is no doubt that many women have been sexually assaulted and that much of it has gone unreported. Just because Kavanaugh is a privileged white male does not make him guilty of sexual assault. Just because he wrote asinine things in his high school yearbook and joined a fraternity in college does not make him a sexual predator. And as many Americans can attest, just because he drank beer to the point of vomiting does not mean that he ever blacked out.
There is no doubt that Ford was a sympathetic witness. When senators look at her, they see their wives, sisters, daughters, friends. But being sympathetic is not the same as being truthful or credible. And Ford’s case against Kavanaugh is looking less credible by the day. First, Arizona sex crimes prosecutor Rachel Mitchell exposed serious inconsistencies in Ford’s testimony. And now a report this week from Real Clear Investigations has undermined another key claim that Ford made before the committee.
Ford testified under oath that the reason she finally told a therapist in 2012 about the alleged assault three decades after she says it happened was because, during a renovation of her Palo Alto, Calif., home, she “insisted on a second front door,” and her husband disagreed. So, during marriage counseling, she testified, “in explaining why I wanted a second front door, I began to describe the assault in detail.” She confirmed to Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) that the reason for the second door was “claustrophobia.” She also never said when the renovation took place, leaving the impression that it coincided with the counseling.
But RealClear Investigations uncovered real estate records and other documents that contradict Ford’s sworn testimony. Those records “reveal the door was installed years before as part of an addition, and has been used by renters and even a marriage counseling business.” RealClear quotes an attorney familiar with the investigation who said, “It appears the real plan for the second front door was to rent out a separate room.” Additionally, building permits for Ford’s second home, in Santa Cruz, Calif. — which she applied for in July, the month that she wrote to Feinstein about the alleged attack — include a front porch and decks, but not a second front door. Taken together with questions about her claims about her ability to fly to Washington to testify, about her familiarity with polygraph tests and about the therapist notes’ whereabouts, this revelation further calls into question Ford’s credibility.
The FBI has completed additional interviews for an expanded background investigation of Kavanaugh. The senators were right to request it, and it should have been done earlier. But it is important to remember that the FBI gathers information — it does not make judgments about the information’s credibility. That is the job of the Senate. Perhaps, in the end, facts will prevail over feelings, due process will be honored and the principle that one is innocent until proven guilty will stand. We will soon find out, when the Senate votes on the Kavanaugh nomination.