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Brett Kavanaugh unwilling to answer questions on FBI investigation, Mark Judge

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brett kavanaugh
President
Donald Trump’s Supreme Court nominee, Brett Kavanaugh, listens to
a question during the third round of questioning on the third day
of his Senate Judiciary Committee confirmation hearing, Thursday,
Sept. 6, 2018

Associated
Press/Jacquelyn Martin


Brett Kavanaugh, President Donald Trump’s embattled nominee to
fill a Supreme Court seat, came out swinging when he defended
himself Thursday against a bombshell allegation of sexual
assault.

But the most salient piece of evidence came not from what
Kavanaugh said, but what he didn’t say.

At the center of Thursday’s hearing is an accusation of sexual
assault that Dr. Christine Blasey Ford, a professor at Palo Alto
University, made against Kavanaugh earlier this summer and which
became public last week.

Testifying to the Senate Judiciary Committee, Ford said Kavanaugh
attacked her when they were at a high school gathering in the
summer of 1982. She also said that Kavanaugh’s friend, Mark
Judge, took part in the alleged assault.

Kavanaugh vehemently and categorically denied Ford’s
allegations on Thursday.

But he became visibly evasive when Democratic lawmakers on the
Senate Judiciary Committee asked him two pointed questions:
would Kavanaugh be in favor of Judge testifying before the
committee, and would he ask the White House to order the FBI to
investigate the claims against him?

When Vermont Sen. Patrick Leahy asked Kavanaugh whether he
wanted Judge to testify, Kavanaugh replied: “He’s already
provided sworn testimony,” referring to an affidavit Judge
submitted.

When Illinois Sen. Dick Durbin asked Kavanaugh whether he would
support an FBI investigation into Ford’s claims and Judge
appearing before the committee, Kavanaugh said that the FBI
“does not reach conclusions” and dodged Durbin’s inquiries
about Judge.

“You can’t have it both ways,” Durbin told Kavanaugh. “You
can’t say here at the beginning … ‘I welcome any kind of
investigation,’ and then walk away from this.”

“This thing was sprung on me,” Kavanaugh said. “This thing was
sprung at the last minute after being held by staff, you know,
and I called for a hearing immediately.”

Durbin replied: “Judge, if there’s no truth to her charges, the
FBI investigation will show that. Are you afraid they might
not?”

Kavanaugh then accused Durbin of asking a “phony question,”
saying that the FBI would “just go and do what you’re doing:
ask questions and then type up a report. They don’t reach the
bottom-line conclusion.”

But during his opening statement, Kavanaugh touted the
background checks the FBI had conducted on him when he was up
for other jobs within the US government earlier in his career,
which he said found no evidence of any wrongdoing in his past.

A ‘straw man argument’


Christine Blasey Ford
Christine
Blasey Ford claims Mark Judge aided in an alleged sexual
assault involving Supreme Court nominee Judge Brett Kavanaugh
at a high school party in Maryland when they were
teenagers.

Michael Reynolds/Getty
Images


Throughout the hearing, at least five Democratic lawmakers
asked Kavanaugh about opening an FBI investigation on at least
nine different occasions. Each time, he declined to give a
yes-or-no answer.

Meanwhile, Republicans on the panel asserted that the FBI did
not need to investigate the allegations because the committee
was conducting an inquiry into them.

Jeffrey Cramer, a longtime former federal prosecutor in
Chicago, characterized the claim as a “straw man argument.”

“FBI finds potential eyewitnesses, tries to confirm surrounding
facts,” and more, he said. “Kavanaugh and the sex-crimes
prosecutor asking questions would both agree that they would
want to talk to any potential witnesses before reaching any
conclusions. Any rookie prosecutor, or investigator, or finder
of fact, would talk to Mark Judge. A court would do so under
oath.”

Durbin later brought up Ford’s testimony, during which she said
that she ran into Judge at a local supermarket six to eight
weeks after the alleged assault. Durbin said that if the
committee subpoenaed Judge to testify, lawmakers could get
answers on some of the specifics of the event that Ford said
she could not recall.

“So the point I’m getting to is, we at least can connect some
dots here and get some information,” Durbin said. “Why would
you resist that kind of investigation?”

Kavanaugh repeated that he wanted a hearing before the
committee as soon as the allegation became public last week. He
did not say whether he wanted his friend to testify.

He complains about delays & says [Mark] Judge
submitted an affidavit, but refuses to agree he should testify
& be subjected to cross examination,” wrote the former federal
prosecutor Joyce Vance. “This damages his credibility, perhaps
irrevocably.”

“He asserts the truth in a prepared statement but can’t
seem to handle questions he has to have known were coming,” she
added.

Cramer echoed that view and highlighted Judge’s importance in
the hearing.

“Democrats should say the name Mark Judge in every question,”
he said. “How far was Mark Judge from you and Brett? Where was
Mark Judge standing? Did Mark Judge say anything? Did you make
eye contact with Mark Judge while being pinned down by Brett?”

Ford said during the hearing that the sharpest memory she had
of the attack was the “uproarious laughter” Judge and Kavanaugh
allegedly shared at her expense.

“They both seemed to be having a good time,” Ford said in her
opening statement. “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.”

Legal scholars and those who observed the testimony from both
sides of the aisle said Thursday that they found Ford to be a
credible witness.

Kavanaugh was “certainly forceful until it comes to the FBI
asking questions or Mark Judge testifying,” Cramer said.

“An affidavit, as the judge knows, is meaningless. Democrats’
questions are weak but targeted. Focus on the only potential
eyewitness. Where is Mark Judge?”

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