On Wednesday night, things stopped making sense.
First, new allegations against Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh surfaced, this time from an anonymous source who claims he beat up Kavanaugh and Mark Judge in 1985 on a boat in Rhode Island after Kavanaugh and Judge allegedly sexually assaulted one of his friends.
The allegations came out in the transcript of a call (you can read all 45 pages here) between Kavanaugh and staffers for both Republicans and Democrats on the Senate Judiciary Committee conducted on Tuesday. The anonymous source, whose name is redacted from the document, called the offices of Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse, a Rhode Island Democrat, to allege he’d had an altercation with Kavanaugh in 1985. According to the transcript, the man from Rhode Island claimed Kavanaugh and Judge had sexually assaulted a friend of his they had met in a local bar while on board a 36-foot boat in the Newport harbor. The source then claimed he went down to the boat with a friend and got in a fight with Kavanaugh and Judge, “leaving them with significant injuries,” but didn’t realize who they were until he recognized Kavanaugh from his yearbook photo on TV over the weekend.
It appears from the transcript that Kavanaugh had already been briefed on these allegations, as he begins the line of questioning by asking an aide (whose name is also redacted) “Are we going to talk Rhode Island?” He then categorically denied each specific point, saying he’d never so much as been on a boat in Newport.
But the transcript got weirder still. The aide then asked Kavanaugh if he had any knowledge of tweets by the man which called for a military coup against President Trump and read out one of the tweets verbatim.
Look, you can see where this is going: a redacted name, an anonymous accusation, but a fully Google-able tweet? The Federalist immediately made the jump, finding the tweet in question from an account under the name Jeffrey Catalan. Quickly scrolling through his profile (created in June 2018) reveals plenty more of the same: Pleas for the Pentagon to save him from Trump in the White House, vague accusations that the President was guilty of manslaughter, etc. At 7:51 p.m. last night, the account tweeted he’d “recanted” his allegation against Kavanaugh, saying he’d “made a mistake.” (Here’s a full archive of the account’s tweets, in case they get deleted.)
Ten minutes before that, Politico’s Elana Schor reported the Democrats were worried Republicans were “now releasing anonymous allegations in an effort to make all allegations look frivolous.”
Before Wednesday evening was over, NBC News reported that an unnamed fourth woman had come forward in a letter anonymously sent to Republican Sen. Cory Gardner of Colorado, alleging Kavanaugh physically assaulted her after meeting her in a D.C. bar in 1998. According to Schor’s reporting, the Judiciary Committee had also received several other anonymous allegations.
Those new, anonymous allegations came the same day Julie Swetnick, a long-time federal employee, became the third woman to publicly accuse Kavanaugh of serious sexual misconduct, alleging that he was present at a party where she was gang-raped. Swetnick is represented by celebrity lawyer Michael Avenatti, who tweeted that his client provided the Senate Judiciary Committee with a sworn declaration describing the allegations.
And that still wasn’t all: As Schor noted above, the Judiciary Committee had also done interviews with not one but two separate men who said they think it was them, not Kavanaugh, who were responsible for the “encounter” with Dr. Christine Blasey Ford, the first women who went public with allegations against Kavanaugh.
As all this was happening, Kavanaugh’s hearing was just hours away, and Wednesday night’s releases have effectively flooded the zone with new, confusing, and vague allegations. The Republicans’ plan this entire week has been to railroad the Judiciary Committee into a confirmation vote as soon as possible. As it stands, there’s no way the committee or the media will have time to figure out what the hell is going on before 9:30 a.m. on Friday, when the committee’s scheduled a vote. Meanwhile, the Democrats are filing a lawsuit to try to get a Washington, D.C. district court to step in and shut everything down until even more documents related to Kavanaugh’s record are released.
And absolutely none of this makes it easier for Dr. Ford, who will relive her trauma on a national stage once again on Thursday.