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Facing Serious Sexual Assault Accusations, Alleged Perjury Doesn't Help Kavanaugh's Credibility

While the nominee has a history of dishonesty and obfuscation, Ford has proven a very reluctant—yet so far compelling—witness to the events that took place more than three decades ago

U.S. Supreme Court nominee Judge Brett Kavanaugh is sworn in by committee Chairman Chuck Grassley to testify during his Supreme Court confirmation hearing in the Hart Senate Office Building on Capitol Hill September 4, 2018 in Washington, DC.

U.S. Supreme Court nominee Judge Brett Kavanaugh is sworn in by committee Chairman Chuck Grassley to testify during his Supreme Court confirmation hearing in the Hart Senate Office Building on Capitol Hill September 4, 2018 in Washington, DC. Kavanaugh was nominated by President Donald Trump to fill the vacancy on the court left by retiring Associate Justice Anthony Kennedy. (Photo: Jim Bourg-Pool/Getty Images)

Update:

The Senate Judiciary Committee announced Monday that it will hold a public hearing with Supreme Court nominee Judge Brett Kavanaugh and Dr. Christine Blasey Ford next week—on Monday, September 24—so that both can offer statements and answer questions from committe members about sexual assault allegations levied by Ford against Kavanaugh.

In response, Sen. Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.), issued a series of tweets, including:

Earlier:

Amid calls for Brett Kavanaugh to withdraw his nomination to the Supreme Court after he was publicly accused of sexual assault and attempted rape by college professor Christine Blasey Ford on Sunday, the credibility of both the accused and the accuser was the center of U.S. politics on Monday just days before a scheduled vote by the Senate Judiciary Committee on Thursday.

And while many are calling for a thorough investigation into the matter, even a cursory look at the record—including damning evidence that Kavanaugh has already committed perjury before congressional lawmakers—reveals the nominee has a history of dishonesty and obfuscation whereas Ford has proven a very reluctant, yet so far compelling, witness to the events that took place more than three decades ago.

Kavanaugh has "categorically and unequivocally" denied the account offered by Ford—in which she says the nominee seeking a lifetime appointment to the nation's high court "pinned her to a bed on her back and groped her over her clothes, grinding his body against hers and clumsily attempting to pull off her one-piece bathing suit and the clothing she wore over it" at a high school party when they were high school students.

The serious nature of the alleged attack, including a description of how Kavanaugh covered her mouth when she tried to scream, are ones that her attorney announced Monday she is willing to testify about under oath in front of lawmakers. While she specifically did not want to come forward, Ford's attorney Debra Katz said her client, who has taken both a polygraph exam and provided documentation to bolster her claims, is now "willing to do whatever it takes to get her story forth."

Challenging Kavanaugh's credibility in an op-ed in TIME magazine on Monday, four former legal staffers for Democratic senators—Kristine Lucius, Jeff Berman, Lisa Graves, and Bob Schiff—argued that existing evidence that Kavanaugh perjured himself during previous nomination hearings and his "many misleading and false statements" under oath should have direct bearing on his overall trustworthiness. 

"At the very least," the four wrote, "the Senate should not vote on his nomination until still-secret documents from his time in the George W. Bush White House are made public and until the sexual misconduct allegations that have just become public are thoroughly investigated." They continued:

It would be unprecedented and unwise for the Senate to act on the nomination without reviewing the full record. Furthermore, especially in light of the serious and credible charges that became public this weekend, it would be irresponsible for the Senate to rush this nominee to a vote with so many unresolved questions about his honesty and integrity.

To uphold the integrity of the U.S. Senate’s nomination process, and maintain the integrity of the U.S. Supreme Court, Judge Brett Kavanaugh’s nomination must not move forward.

Francis Boyle, professor of international law at the University of Illinois College of Law, said in response to the latest developments that, "Kavanaugh clearly has little compulsion against lying under oath. Ford has taken and passed a lie detector test. So the question becomes: Will Kavanaugh take a lie detector test?"

On Monday, Sen. Orrin Hatch (R-Utah) was among those on Capitol Hill who said rather plainly that he did not believe the allegations against Kavanaugh—saying that Ford must be "mixed up." Advocates for sexual assaults victims like Jess Davidson, the executivee directive of End Rape on Campus, however, said that Ford's account—and her reluctance to come forward—is very much in keeping with other survivors of such assaults.

"Everyone who's saying, 'Why didn't she come forward earlier? Why did she hold on to this for so long?' is really steeped in that rape culture, and doesn't understand the cost of coming forward — for a survivor now, and the extraordinary circumstances under which Ms. Ford has had to come forward," Davidson explained to Vox.com.

For his part, Sen. Chuck Grassley, Republican chair of the Senate Judiciary Committee, suggested the whole issue could be dealt with by a conference call between the various parties.

"Anyone who comes forward as Dr. Ford has deserves to be heard, so I will continue working on a way to hear her out in an appropriate, precedented and respectful manner," Grassley said on Monday. "The standard procedure for updates to any nominee's background investigation file is to conduct separate follow-up calls with relevant parties. In this case, that would entail phone calls with at least Judge Kavanaugh and Dr. Ford."

Other senators, including some who sit on Judiciary, have said that testimony under oath—which both Ford and Kavanaugh have suggested they would sit for—is the only way, in addition to a broader investigation, to proceed.

Sen. Susan Collins (R-Maine), though not on the committee, is among those considered a crucial vote for Republicans to achieve Kavanaugh's ultimate confirmation. On Monday afternoon, she told reporters outside her office that if Kavanaugh is shown to have lied about the incident, that would be disqualifying. Collins said that she wants both Ford and Kavanaugh to testify, under oath, before the Senate Judiciary Committee.

"If it takes a little delay, it takes a little delay," President Trump told reporters at the White House on Monday afternoon, but wouldn't say what he believed the process should be.

When asked if he thought Kavanaugh should withdraw, Trump—who said he has not spoken with the nominee since the accusations surfaced—called it a "ridiculous question" and refused to answer.

In a statement, NARAL Pro-Choice America, said "Senators who claim to be allies to women can stop Kavanaugh from ascending a lifetime appointment to the Supreme Court. Senators owe it to women in America to examine all the evidence before them, and if they do so in earnest, there is only one conclusion to be drawn: Brett Kavanaugh is unfit to serve and his nomination must be withdrawn."

And Karen Hobert Flynn, president Common Cause, also called on the Senate to delay the vote, currently scheduled for Thursday.

"Americans deserve to know the full truth about any nominee for a lifetime appointment to the Supreme Court and the rush to confirm Brett Kavanaugh must cease until these deeply disturbing allegations are addressed by committee and by the nominee," Flynn said.

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