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Here’s why the allegation against Kavanaugh is credible: He’s smeared and attacked women before

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- Commentary
Supreme Court nominee Judge Brett Kavanaugh

“[Brett Kavanaugh] is not just a conservative jurist. He’s not John Roberts. He’s not even Neil Gorsuch. He’s a Republican operative who is posing as a judge” — Sen. Brian Schatz, D-Hawaii, on Pod Save America

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After the news broke on Friday about an anonymous, decades-old accusation of sexual assault against Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh, Salon’s Amanda Marcotte expressed little surprise at the possibility it might have happened. As she pointed out, despite all the treacly paeans to Kavanaugh the kindly “basketball dad,” his jurisprudence as a federal judge was enough to show his hostility to women’s rights. It wasn’t much of a stretch to imagine that he might have acted upon such impulses at some point in his life.

After all, the president who nominated Kavanaugh for the high court has bragged about assaulting women and more than a dozen have come forward to say that he wasn’t idly boasting when he said that. During his confirmation hearings before the Senate Judiciary Committee, Kavanaugh seemed to be as unconcerned with those allegations as the rest of his party.

Over the weekend, Republicans circled the wagons. The anonymous accuser had named a conservative writer named Mark Judge as Kavanaugh’s teenage accomplice in the assault. Judge came forward to say that he had “no recollection” of such an event saying, “It’s just absolutely nuts. I never saw Brett act that way.” That might be true, since Judge has written extensively about the wild, debauched atmosphere at the all-male prep school he and Kavanaugh attended in suburban Maryland, and admits to having been a blackout drunk during that period.

That doesn’t exactly help Kavanaugh’s case. Neither does it help that Kavanaugh later joined a notoriously dissipated and drunken fraternity at Yale and belonged to an equally licentious secret society that even today remains one of the few all-male groups on campus. None of that is evidence that Kavanaugh assaulted anyone, to be sure. But it does call into question the Boy Scout image his sponsors so assiduously created during his confirmation hearings.

On Sunday, the woman who had lodged the complaint came forward to tell her story. She is a professor of psychology at Palo Alto University named Christine Blasey Ford, and she told the Washington Post that she was the author of the letter detailing the alleged sexual assault by Kavanaugh and Judge in the 1980s, when all three were high school students. It’s a harrowing story, which Ford’s therapist had documented in her files years ago. Ford says she was reluctant to come forward because she knew that it would make her life unbearable. She’s undoubtedly right. Kavanaugh’s defenders are going to come after her with everything they have.

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The Republicans are already shrieking about the Democrats playing dirty pool, which is as ironic as it gets. It was Republicans who threw away the rule book to hold a Supreme Court seat open for nearly a year so they could appoint a hard-right conservative. They are making the case that this “unprovable” accusation is unfair because, as one Townhall writer expressed on Twitter, “I don’t know how it would be remotely just to derail the nomination of someone who’s spent an adult lifetime building a personal & professional reputation based on this exceptionally thin standard.”

Perhaps that’s true, but it doesn’t get Kavanaugh off the hook. In fact, it should make everyone go back and take a closer look at Kavanaugh’s personal and professional reputation. When it comes to unfairness and character assassination, he’s an expert.

Here is just one example to illustrate the depth of his character deficiencies. Back in the 1990s, conservative activists went to DefCon One when Bill Clinton came into office. A whole group of young conservative lawyers joined the cause, Kavanaugh among them. His first big job for the movement was as Ken Starr’s point man on the Vince Foster case.

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Indeed, it was Kavanaugh who pushed for the investigation even though Foster’s death had been amply covered by congressional committees, the local police, the FBI and the first special counsel Robert Fisk, all of whom had  found that the former deputy White House counsel had committed suicide. But Kavanaugh was deep in the right-wing fever swamp and argued to Starr that they could unscrupulously use the fact that there were unfounded conspiracy theories surrounding Foster’s death to reopen the case, despite the grieving family’s desperate pleas for the government to stop the “outrageous innuendo and speculation for political ends.”

Kavanaugh was apparently particularly interested in Rush Limbaugh’s odious suggestion to his legions of listeners that Foster had been murdered in an apartment secretly owned by Hillary Clinton. He spent three years and $2 million attempting to dig up dirt on the dead man, at one point demanding that Foster’s teenage daughter give the authorities specimens of her hair — an apparent attempt to prove or imply that a hair found on Foster’s jacket had belonged to Hillary Clinton.

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READ MORE: Why do people share conspiracy theories and fake news? Maybe it’s the human “need for chaos”

Kavanaugh asked everyone involved about this nonexistent affair between Clinton and Foster — even, eventually, Clinton herself. It later became clear that Kavanaugh knew all along that Foster had committed suicide, and that he had used the power and resources of the independent counsel’s office to lend credibility to vulgar sexual rumors about the first lady, in the process needlessly torturing the family of a dead man.

Let’s just say there is more than one way to assault someone. In this case, which is proven, he assaulted two women: Hillary Clinton and Vince Foster’s widow, Elizabeth.

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As of this writing, we don’t know whether Republicans on the Judiciary Committee will delay Kavanaugh’s confirmation vote or reopen the hearings and call Christine Blasey Ford to testify. But if they are depending on their nominee’s reputation as an upstanding, honest, decent adult to outweigh this accusation of sexual assault in high school, they are going to have to find another candidate for the seat.

As Sen. Brian Schatz said in the quote above, Brett Kavanaugh is not just another conservative jurist. He is a professional political operative with a past full of dirty tricks and character assassination. If there is any decency left in the Republican Party this latest revelation will be the straw that breaks the camel’s back.


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Russia went looking for puppets in America — and they found Trump and the Republicans

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The Russians wasted decades infiltrating the left attempting to gain purchase in American political life. There was the Communist Party USA, of course. Established in 1919, the CPUSA grew through the 1930s and boasted a membership of about 100,000 at the beginning of World War II. A hundred thousand! Whoop-de-doo!

This article first appeared in Salon

Then there were the spinoff lefty parties like the Socialist Workers Party, the Progressive Labor Party, the Workers World Party, the Socialist Labor Party, the Progressive Labor Party — we could go on listing one splinter group after another with “socialist” or “labor” or “workers” in its title. They were tiny groups with memberships that were sometimes less than 100, and they would all deny being infiltrated by the Russkies, naturally. So would the “New Left” groups that came later, like SDS and The Weathermen. Nobody wanted to admit they were under Russian influence. Everything they were doing, from opposing the war in Vietnam to civil rights to fighting for free speech, was being done for completely pure reasons.

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2020 Election

William Barr made it clear this week that he’d sign off on a sham investigation into the Dems’ 2020 nominee

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Welcome to another edition of What Fresh Hell?, Raw Story’s roundup of news items that might have become controversies under another regime, but got buried – or were at least under-appreciated – due to the daily firehose of political pratfalls, unhinged tweet storms and other sundry embarrassments coming out of the current White House.

A perfect storm propelled New York's sleaziest real estate developer to an Electoral College victory in 2016 despite winning three million fewer votes than his opponent, but Nate Silver made a compelling argument that the letter James Comey sent to Congress just 11 days before Election Day announcing that the FBI was re-opening its probe into Hillary Clinton's emails was decisive.

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Bill Barr is serving notice to DOJ officials that he’ll ruin them if they investigate Trump: MSNBC host

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An MSNBC discussion about Bill Barr running interference within the Justice Department for Donald Trump ended with "AM Joy" host Joy Reid suggesting that the attorney general's very public "media blitz" over the so-called "Horowitz Report" is a warning shot to anyone in the DOJ who thinks about investigating the president.

As Reid explained it, "He did a whole TV blitz to basically say that his own agency, the FBI, was spying on the Trump campaign, something that the inspector general said did not happen."

Reid took that to its logical conclusion.

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