Getting Serious About False Allegations Against Nominees

Senator Chuck Grassley posted an article on his Senate web page that included a letter asking the Attorney General and the Director of the FBI about investigations into false charges made against Justice Kavanaugh.

Part of the letter states:

These criminal referrals were not made lightly.  In each of the aforementioned cases, the referred individual(s) made false allegations against then-Judge Kavanaugh.  These allegations were taken seriously and carefully investigated by Committee staff, resulting in the diversion of significant resources.
    1. The first referral, dated September 29, 2018, relates to a false allegation made by an individual who told the Committee that he had direct knowledge that Judge Kavanaugh assaulted a close friend on a boat in the harbor at Newport, Rhode Island in 1985. [1]  After the Committee extensively questioned Judge Kavanaugh about the allegation, the individual recanted and apologized on social media for making the false allegation.
    1. The second referral, dated October 25, 2018, relates to false allegations made by Mr. Michael Avenatti and his client, Ms. Julie Swetnick.[2]  In a September 23, 2018, email to Committee staff, Mr. Avenatti stated that he and Ms. Swetnick were aware of evidence that during the 1980s, Judge Kavanaugh participated in the “targeting of women with alcohol/drugs in order to allow a ‘train’ of men to subsequently gang rape them.”[3]  Committee staff interviewed Judge Kavanaugh and ten other individuals in connection with these allegations, which were outlined in graphic detail in a sworn statement to the Committee purportedly written and signed by Ms. Swetnick.  After a thorough investigation, the Committee found no verifiable evidence to support any of the allegations made in the declaration.  The Committee also found that both Mr. Avenatti and Ms. Swetnick had a long history of credibility issues and may have criminally conspired to mislead the Committee and obstruct its investigation.
    1. The third referral, dated October 26, 2018, relates to evidence that Mr. Avenatti falsified a sworn statement to the Committee in order to provide support for Ms. Swetnick’s unfounded allegations.[4]  The sworn statement by an unknown declarant claimed that Judge Kavanaugh had spiked the punch at house parties with Quaaludes and/or grain alcohol in order to make “girls more likely to engage in sexual acts and less likely to say ‘No.’”[5]  NBC News later reported on a series of contacts with the purported declarant, who stated that she had denied the key allegations in the declaration both before and after the statement was publicly released and that Mr. Avenatti had “twisted [her] words.”[6]
    1. The fourth referral, dated November 2, 2018, relates to allegations made by Ms. Judy Munro-Leighton.[7]  On October 3, 2018, Committee staff received an email from Ms. Munro-Leighton stating that she was the author of an unsigned letter containing highly graphic sexual-assault accusations against Judge Kavanaugh previously received by the office of Senator Kamala Harris.  Ms. Munro-Leighton included the text of the letter in her e-mail to the Committee, claiming that Judge Kavanaugh and a friend had raped her “several times each” in the back seat of a car.[8]  When Committee staff interviewed Ms. Munro-Leighton, she admitted that she falsely identified herself as the author of the letter and its allegations and had only claimed authorship “as a way to grab attention.”[9]  When asked by Committee investigators if she had ever met Judge Kavanaugh, she said:  “Oh Lord, no.”[10]

The letter continues:

As the Committee stressed in each of the referrals issued during and after the investigation into allegations against then-Judge Kavanaugh, investigations in support of the judicial nomination process are an essential part of the constitutional role in confirming judges.  As Committee members, we are grateful to citizens who come forward with relevant information in good faith, even if they are not entirely sure about the accuracy of that information.  But, when individuals intentionally mislead the Committee, they divert important Committee resources during time-sensitive investigations and materially impede its work. Such acts are not only unfair; they are potentially illegal.  It is illegal to make materially false, fictitious, or fraudulent statements to Congressional investigators.  It is illegal to obstruct Committee investigations.
It is important to protect the constitutional process from being hijacked by bad actors involved in insidious partisan operations.  The Committee can bring bad actors to the attention of law enforcement and the American people by being as transparent as possible about its investigative findings.  However, it is up to the FBI and the Justice Department to hold those who mislead Congress accountable for the criminal aspects of their behavior.  The DOJ has not shied away from selectively filing charges against individuals for alleged violations of 18 U.S.C. §§ 1001 in the past.  Martha Stewart, former Illinois governor Rod Blagojevich, and ex-Presidential aide Scooter Libby are just a few individuals who have been charged with lying to federal investigators.[11]  Lying to Congress is and should be treated as an equally serious offense.
The next Supreme Court nominee should not have to defend himself or herself against baseless and fabricated allegations, and Committee staff should not have to spend valuable time investigating them.
Accordingly, please respond to the following no later than October 21, 2019:
    1. For each criminal referral made by the Committee to the FBI, did the FBI open a criminal investigation?  If so, which investigation(s) resulted in a referral to the Justice Department for prosecution?  If not, why not?
    1. For each case that was referred to the Justice Department for prosecution, which cases were rejected and which were accepted for prosecution? 

It will be interesting to see if there is any response to this letter.

When Senators Don’t Read The Constitution

Article VI of the U. S. Constitution states:

The Senators and Representatives before mentioned, and the Members of the several State Legislatures, and all executive and judicial Officers, both of the United States and of the several States, shall be bound by Oath or Affirmation, to support this Constitution; but no religious Test shall ever be required as a Qualification to any Office or public Trust under the United States.

Yesterday Paul Mirengoff posted an article at Power Line Blog about the confirmation of Brian Buescher to the U.S. District Court in Nebraska.

The article reports:

The Senate today confirmed Brian Buescher, President Trump’s nominee to the U.S. District Court in Nebraska. Readers may recall that Senate Democrats attacked Buescher for his membership in the Knights of Columbus, a Catholic service organization. I wrote about this here.

Sen. Kamala Harris was one of the Senators who led the charge against Buescher during his Committee hearing. His other main adversary was Sen. Mazie Hirono, one of the Senate’s dimmest members.

Harris isn’t dim, but she’s a hard core leftist and an incorrigible opportunist. Thus, her suggestion that Buescher’s membership in the Knights of Columbus makes him unfit to serve as a federal judge was over-determined.

The argument was that the Knights of Columbus takes the “extreme” position that a marriage is the union of a man and a woman. But, as Ramesh Ponnuru pointed out at the time, Buescher belongs to two other organizations that consider marriage to be the union of a man and woman (and that also are anti-abortion, another of the Knights’ “extreme” positions). The two organizations are the Catholic Church and the Republican Party.

Do Hirono and Harris think that Buescher’s Catholicism raises problems with his nomination? I assume they do, to the extent that Buescher takes Catholic doctrine seriously.

Buescher declined Hirono’s invitation to resign from the Knights of Columbia as a condition of being confirmed. The Senate confirmed him anyway.

The vote was 51-40. No Democrat voted to confirm Buescher. Harris and the other Senate Democrats running for president didn’t vote.

In September 2017, Dianne Feinstein made the following statement about the Catholicism of  Amy Barrett during the confirmation hearing for the judge:

Why is it that so many of us on this side have this very uncomfortable feeling that — you know, dogma and law are two different things. And I think whatever a religion is, it has its own dogma. The law is totally different. And I think in your case, professor, when you read your speeches, the conclusion one draws is that the dogma lives loudly within you, and that’s of concern when you come to big issues that large numbers of people have fought for years in this country.

People of faith who have been blindly voting for Democrats over the years might want to take notice of these statements made during confirmation hearings. Again, the Senators need to reread the U.S. Constitution. Faith is neither a qualifier nor a dis-qualifier according to Article VI of the U.S. Constitution.

 

When You Lose One Fight, Revisit Another One

It hasn’t been a good couple of weeks for angry Democrats and Trump-haters. The Mueller Report was just not useful in the quest to impeach President Trump, the economy is doing better than expected, unemployment is low, the stock market is high, and the workforce participation rate is slowly climbing back to pre-2008 levels. Meanwhile, President Trump’s rallies are extremely well attended. So what can an angry Democrat do now? Rewrite history and get angry at Justice Kavanaugh.

The Washington Free Beacon posted an article yesterday with the headline, “Dark Money Leftist Group Runs Facebook Ads Targeting Kavanaugh.” The man was confirmed, the allegations were never proven, there was a lack of consistency in the story told, and Justice Kavanaugh is considered innocent until proven guilty. It’s time to let it go.

The article reports:

A dark money progressive organization hoping for a leftward turn on the courts is targeting Justice Brett Kavanaugh with advertisements, suggesting the Court is illegitimate following his elevation last October.

“Brett Kavanaugh’s performance during his testimony in front of the Senate was a disgrace. His blatant partisan attacks and hostile behavior towards senators calls into question his ability to serve as a fair and impartial judge. His conduct undermines the legitimacy of his decisions and the entire Supreme Court,” the ad reads.

“We’re calling on Congress to open an investigation into Kavanaugh right now.”

Other ads by the group Demand Justice alleged there was “overwhelming evidence that Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh committed perjury during his confirmation hearings before the Senate” and also urged George Mason University to “fire” Kavanaugh from teaching a summer course at the Virginia school.

The article concludes:

Carrie Severino is chief counsel and policy director of the Judicial Crisis Network, which, according to its website, advocates for the rule of law consistent with the “Constitution and the Founders’ vision of a nation of limited government.”

She says Democrats and others on the left failed at phase one and two of their campaign, to delay and then defeat Kavanaugh’s nomination, and have moved on to phase three: discredit.

“Knowing that they failed even with historic levels of dirty politics, smear campaigns to get him off the court, they’re hoping they can discredit him at every future decision that he makes,” Severino told the Washington Free Beacon.

“It’s the last refuge of scoundrels,” she added later. “If you can’t actually win on the merits of your arguments, you can’t say ‘well, he’s wrong on the law,’ and then explain your constitutional or legal reasoning, then you just go for ad hominem attacks. This is a variation of that theme.”

Requests for comment to Demand Justice were not returned.

If this continues, is anyone going to want to accept an appointment to high office or want to work for the government? The group can buy all of the ads they want, but the American people need to be smart enough to ignore those ads and make them a waste of money.

Religious Freedom In America?

Fox News posted an article today about the confirmation hearings for Omaha-based lawyer Brian Buescher who is nominated for the U.S. District Court in Nebraska.

The article reports:

Two Democratic senators are scrutinizing a federal judicial nominee over his membership in the Knights of Columbus, drawing a stern rebuke from the Catholic organization.

Sens. Kamala Harris, D-Calif., and Mazie Hirono, D-Hawaii, raised concerns about Omaha-based lawyer Brian Buescher’s membership as part of the Senate Judiciary Committee’s review of his nomination by President Trump to sit on the U.S. District Court in Nebraska, as first reported by the Catholic News Agency.

In a series of questions sent to Buescher, Hirono asked whether his membership in the Knights of Columbus would prevent him from hearing cases “fairly and impartially” and, if confirmed, whether he would end his membership in the Roman Catholic charitable organization.

“The Knights of Columbus has taken a number of extreme positions,” Hirono said in the questionnaire. “For example, it was reportedly one of the top contributors to California’s Proposition 8 campaign to ban same-sex marriage.”

Have we reached the point where taking a Biblical stand on marriage is considered extreme? I guess so.

The article continues:

Harris, in her questions to the nominee, called the Knights of Columbus “an all-male society” and asked the Nebraska lawyer if he was aware that the group was anti-abortion and anti-gay marriage when he joined. The California senator also referenced Supreme Knight Carl A. Anderson’s statement that abortion amounted to “the killing of the innocent on a massive scale” and asked Buescher if he agreed with the statement.

Buescher responded that his involvement in the group consisted mostly of charitable work and community events at his local Catholic parish. He indicated he would abide by judicial precedent regarding abortion.

The Knights of Columbus maintained that its positions reflect Catholic teachings, and suggested that the senators’ scrutiny amounts to criticism of the Catholic faith.

Senator Harris wants to run for President. I am sure that in challenging the right of a member of the Knights of Columbus to sit on a U.S. District Court will win her votes on the extreme left. However, I am not sure it will win her votes in mainstream America. This is the equivalent of a religious litmus test of a nominee, which is unconstitutional and illegal. Being a member of a recognized church group should not disqualify a person nominated for a U.S. District Court.

Don’t Let The Facts Get In The Way Of A Political Smear

Yesterday Guy Benson posted an article at Townhall with the following headline, “FBI Director to Dems: Actually, Our Follow-Up Investigation on Kavanaugh Followed Standard Procedure.”

The article notes some of the events surrounding the confirmation of Justice Kavanuagh:

Let’s begin with a handy recap.  For nearly two months over the summer, Senate Democrats sat on Christine Blasey Ford’s 36-year-old allegation against Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh, with Sen. Dianne Feinstein reportedly telling colleagues that the claim was too distant and too unverifiable to merit serious scrutiny.  Dr. Ford told Democrats that she did not want to be named publicly.  Kavanaugh’s contentious confirmation hearings came and went, over which period Democrats scored no points with their posturing and demagoguery (most of the Judiciary Committee Democrats announced their opposition to Kavanaugh within minutes of him being named, with some seeking to accrue extra style points for shrillness and hysteria).  At no time in any meetings with Kavanaugh did any Democrat ask about the high school-era accusation, nor did the subject come up at any stage of the public or private hearings.  None of the traditional committee protocols for investigating a nominee were ever set into motion.  

With a vote looming, the Democrats leaked Ford’s allegation, against her explicit wishes.  A deranged circus ensued, during which Feinstein and her colleagues (when they weren’t actively validating utterly outrageous, baseless, and ultimately discredited smears) demanded delays, new hearings, and an FBI investigation.  They ended up getting all three.

…Federal agents spoke to the alleged fact witnesses named by the two most credible (which is not to say credible) Kavanaugh accusers, filing a report with those interviews.  This resulted in absolutely zero new evidence or testimony that could corroborate either story — neither of which could be backed up by any of the accusers’ own named witnesses.  Indeed, the only new information the FBI appeared to turn up was apparent improper pressure applied against one of the fact witnesses by Ford’s allies. 

The article includes a statement to Congress by Christopher Wray:

FBI Director Christopher Wray told the Senate on Wednesday that the White House put limits on the re-opened investigation into Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh, but the law enforcement chief insisted that the process used was a typical one. “Our supplemental update to the previous background investigation was limited in scope and that … is consistent with the standard process for such investigations going back a long ways,” Wray said under questioning by Sen. Kamala Harris (D-Calif.) at a Senate Homeland Security Committee hearing on global security threats…”I’ve spoken with our background investigation specialists and they have assured me this was handled in a way consistent with their experience and the standard process,” the FBI director said, later adding that the inquiry was “very specific in scope—limited in scope.”

There was no cover-up by the FBI. It is difficult to investigate a thirty-something-year-old alleged assault when the alleged victim can’t remember where, when, how she got there, or how she got home. All she remembered is that she only had one beer. Was that so unique that she remembered it?

At any rate, the political left will continue to demonize Justice Kavanaugh just as surely as he will make decisions based on the Constitution. It’s up to the American voters to decide how much of what they have heard is true.

 

 

When Lawyers Are Willing To Disregard The Law

On Saturday, Townhall posted an article about a recent New York Times editorial. The editorial was written by former Obama White House lawyer Kate Shaw. Ms. Shaw argues that traditional due process protections such as “the burden of proof beyond a reasonable doubt; the presumption of innocence; [and] the right to confront and respond to an accuser” are not necessary for the purposes of determining if Brett Kavanaugh sexually assaulted Christine Blasely Ford more than 35 years ago or whether he should serve on the Supreme Court. Seems as if she went to the same law school as Barack Obama–the law is whatever she decides it is.

The article at Townhall includes the following from the New York Times:

“It’s natural to place this sort of accusation within a criminal-justice framework: the burden of proof beyond a reasonable doubt; the presumption of innocence; the right to confront and respond to an accuser. If Judge Kavanaugh stood criminally accused of attempted rape, all of that would apply with full force. But those concepts are a poor fit for Supreme Court confirmation hearings, where there’s no presumption of confirmation, and there’s certainly no burden that facts be established beyond a reasonable doubt.” emphasis added

…“What matters here isn’t law as much as politics — though not (or not just) partisan politics. Confirmation hearings are also about constitutional politics — the debate, involving both institutions of government and the polity, about what the Constitution means and requires.

“So what standard should the Senate use in evaluating the claims made by Dr. Blasey and in deciding how they bear on Judge Kavanaugh’s fitness for a seat on the Supreme Court? The Senate’s approach to its constitutional “advice and consent” obligation has always depended on context.A number of factors matter: the timing of the vacancy; the justice being replaced; the nominee’s likely impact on the ideological makeup of the court; even the popularity of the president (very popular presidents have always had more leeway when it comes to picking justices).” emphasis added

So what is this really about? The Democrats have used to courts for years to pass laws that Congress could not pass. Abortion never made it though Congress–it was decided by the courts. Gay marriage never made it through Congress–it was decided by the courts. Teenage boys in teenage girls’ locker rooms never made it through Congress–it was decided by the courts. So Judge Kavanaugh is a threat to that status quo. He would probably be the fifth vote on the Supreme Court who would bring common sense back into the picture. The fact that he believes in the Constitution is a major threat to the hold the liberal wing of the Democrat Party (is there any other wing?) has on the Supreme Court. That is what this is really about.

Is anyone taking odds as to whether Professor Ford is going to be present at her hearing on Thursday?

Watching The Double Standard In Action

Before I get into the substance of this article, I would like to note that the change in Lindsey Graham since the death of John McCain is interesting. All of a sudden Graham is sounding like a conservative. He is not up for re-election until 2020, so that’s not it. It seems as if he is finally waking up to what the deep state is up to and has decided not to be part of it. He may be beginning to realize that the days of the deep state may be numbered.

At any rate, yesterday The Washington Examiner posted an article detailing some of Senator Graham’s comments at the confirmation hearings for Judge Kavanaugh.

The article reports:

Democrats bellyache that Kavanaugh worked as an attorney for the Ken Starr investigation and served in the White House of President George W. Bush. Graham could care less.

“Have you heard of Justice Breyer? Do you know him?,” Graham said in an opening statement equally rambling and passionate. “Where did he come from? He was Ted Kennedy’s Senate judiciary person. Where do you think Republicans are going to go find a judge?”

Good point. The article notes one other area where the double standard is glaring:

But Graham has another reason to be angry, and it isn’t just hypocrisy. He held up what he considered his end of the bargain during the Obama administration, voting for both Justices Sonia Sotomayor and Elena Kagan. The Republican senator certainly didn’t agree with every decision either nominee made. But Graham found both of them to be qualified and found himself “getting a lot of crap” as a result.

The same standard, Graham groused, has not been applied to Republican nominees like Neil Gorsuch and now Kavanaugh. “I would suggest you think long and hard,” he said with some bitterness to the aspiring 2020 Democrats on the committee, “if you’ve got a political ambition, of voting for this guy because it will not play well on your side.”

Graham isn’t wrong, and that is why he’s angry.

The elected President is entitled to his choice of judges and cabinet members unless there is a moral or character issue with the candidate. That is what ‘advise and consent’ is about. The Democrats seem to have forgotten that.

Surprising Sanity From The New York Times

The insanity of the political left has reached new heights in recent days, so it was a bit of a surprise when The New York Times posted a very rational article last night praising President Trump for the nomination of Judge Brett Kavanaugh to be the next Supreme Court justice. Contrast this attitude with comments made by ABC’s Nightline before the nominee was named (from Newsbusters):

I suppose we should all be grateful that they at least corrected their initial statement.

At any rate, The New York Times article has a very rational suggestion about the hearings on Judge Kavanaugh’s appointment:

Fair questions would include inquiries not just about Judge Kavanaugh’s past writings and activities but also about how he believes various past notable judicial cases (such as Roe v. Wade) should have been decided — and even about what his current legal views are on any issue, general or specific.

Everyone would have to understand that in honestly answering, Judge Kavanaugh would not be making a pledge — a pledge would be a violation of judicial independence. In the future, he would of course be free to change his mind if confronted with new arguments or new facts, or even if he merely comes to see a matter differently with the weight of judgment on his shoulders. But honest discussions of one’s current legal views are entirely proper, and without them confirmation hearings are largely pointless.

The compromise I’m proposing would depart from recent confirmation practice. But the current confirmation process is badly broken, alternating between rubber stamps and witch hunts. My proposal would enable each constitutional actor to once again play its proper constitutional role: The Senate could become a venue for serious constitutional conversation, and the nominee could demonstrate his or her consummate legal skill. And equally important: Judge Kavanaugh could be confirmed with the ninetysomething Senate votes he deserves, rather than the fiftysomething votes he is likely to get.

A praiseworthy statement from The New York Times.

Is This Really Necessary?

On Saturday, The Washington Free Beacon posted an article about the confirmation hearings for President Trump’s cabinet.

The article reports:

Trump has now been president for a full three weeks, and the number of approved members in his cabinet stands at seven—a number that was boosted by three contested confirmations last week that were opposed by almost the entire Democratic caucus.

Senate Democrats, vowing to use “everything” they can to stop Trump‘s nominees, have used procedural tricks like boycotting committee meetings to slow the confirmation process to a historically slow pace.

Recent administrations have had many more nominees approved at the three-week mark. Barack Obama had 12 out of 15 nominees approved, George W. Bush had his entire cabinet approved, and Bill Clinton had all but one approved in less than a day.

For most of history, approving cabinet nominees has been a non-issue. Presidents John Kennedy, Richard Nixon, and Jimmy Carter had their entire cabinet approved in the first days of their presidency—a brisk pace that has been the norm for most of U.S. history.

As noted by historian Robert David Johnson, the only confirmation process at all comparable to the current situation was that of President George H.W. Bush, and even he had 10 of his 14 nominees confirmed by the three-week mark.

The article reminds us that in the case of President H.W. Bush, the Democrats controlled the Senate and had the power to stop his cabinet choices. The Republicans currently control the Senate, and even then the Democrats are successful at slow-walking President Trump’s cabinet choices. Odds are that all cabinet members will eventually be confirmed. It doesn’t make sense to obstruct, and obstruction may have a political price.

The article further reports:

The continuing obstruction of even uncontroversial cabinet choices is being driven by demands from the liberal base of the Democratic Party, which is demanding that Democratic lawmakers not cooperate with Trump on anything.

“Democrats, pushed by their base, are under pressure to not cooperate with the new president—on anything,” wrote the Wall Street Journal following reports that Democrats boycotted committee hearings for multiple nominees.

“Gone are the concerns about appearing overly obstructionist,” Politico reported. “Officeholders are now chasing a base that will not tolerate any sign of accommodation.”

The White House has complained that Democrats are “working overtime” to stop the administration from putting qualified nominees in place at agencies.

The Partnership for Public Progress, a nonpartisan group that promotes public service, has said the slow pace of confirmations is damaging the country.

“They are running the most important organization on the planet, and they don’t have their team on the field,” said the organizations CEO. “They don’t have their critical people in place and that’s vital to being able to do their jobs appropriately.”

This is ridiculous. I am waiting for the Democrats who are slowing the confirmation process to start complaining that the Trump Administration isn’t doing anything. Meanwhile, the Democrats are planning on obstructing anything that is attempted. This is not what the American people signed up for. We want a government that gets things done. We want a government that will do what is needed to restart the economy. We want a government that will get out of health insurance and let the free market work. Simply stated, we want a government that will let us live our lives. This obstructionism is not appreciated by anyone except the extreme left, and candidates running for re-election need votes from all groups of voters. The current actions of the Senate Democrats may please the base, but we will see in 2018 if they actually helped the party or hurt the party.