Christine Blasey Ford Will Testify

She called their bluff. Via The Post:

The Senate Judiciary Committee and lawyers for Ford have been in negotiations for days about whether she would appear before the panel. Ford has accused Supreme Court nominee Brett M. Kavanaugh of sexually assaulting her in the 1980s when both were teenagers.

Sen. Charles E. Grassley (R-Iowa), who chairs the Judiciary Committee, had given Ford until 2:30 p.m. to respond to a revised offer to testify at a Wednesday hearing. Her lawyers asked the committee for a call later Saturday to work out other specifics.

This is a developing story. It will be updated.

From what I’ve read, I get the impression Dr. Blasey and her attorney are sharp. For one thing, they’re insisting that the senators question Dr. Blasey directly rather than bring in counsel to question her. In other words, sanctimonious old farts like Grassley and Hatch will be grilling the professor rather than imported female Republican operatives to soften the optics.

The Post also has an interesting piece on Christine Blasey Ford’s escape from the DC suburbs to California. An excerpt:

When Donald Trump won his upset presidential victory in 2016, Christine Blasey Ford’s thoughts quickly turned to a name most Americans had never heard of but one that had unsettled her for years: Brett M. Kavanaugh.

Kavanaugh — a judge on the prestigious U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia — was among those mentioned as a possible replacement for Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia, who died in 2016. When Trump nominated Neil M. Gorsuch, Ford was relieved but still uneasy.

Then Justice Anthony M. Kennedy announced his retirement and Ford, 51, began fretting again.

“Her mind-set was, ‘I’ve got this terrible secret. . . .What am I going to do with this secret?’ ” her husband, Russell Ford, 56, recalled…

“She was like, ‘I can’t deal with this. If he becomes the nominee, then I’m moving to another country. I cannot live in this country if he’s in the Supreme Court,’ ” her husband said. “She wanted out.”

She came forward instead, which took a ton of courage. I have no idea if her testimony will derail the nomination. I suspect not since the Republicans who control congress are spineless, evil or both. But I’m grateful to Christine Blasey Ford anyway. She’s a patriot.

Not So Vast, Largely Conducted Out in the Open, Right Wing Conspiracy: Senate Judiciary Committee Edition

This is Garrett Ventry:

(Image taken from Ventry’s twitter feed)

Garrett’s been a very naughty man…

At 4:39 PM on on Thursday 20 September 2018, Ventry in his capacity as the spokesperson/communications advisor for Senator Grassley’s and the GOP majority on the Senate Judiciary Committee for the Kavanaugh nomination tweeted the following:

There’s only one problem with this. As reported yesterday, Ed Whelan was coordinating with CRC Public Relations on his insane an attempt to exonerate Kavanaugh by implicating Kavanaugh’s classmate via tweetstorm. Do you know who worked for CRC Public Relations while Whelan was coordinating with them about committing a gross, public stupidity? Garrett Ventry. And do you know why CRC Public Relations sent him to work for Grassley to help shepherd the Kavanaugh nomination through? Because Leonard Leo, who controls the Federalist Society, as well as several related organizations like the Judicial Crisis Network through an opaque and largely unknown financing network, and who is a good friend of Ed Whelan’s – another senior Federalist Society member – asked CRC to send Ventry to work for Grassley on this.

But wait, there’s more!!!! Apparently among Ventry’s personal preferences was one for sexually mistreating women.

WASHINGTON — A press adviser helping lead the Senate Judiciary Committee’s response to a sexual assault allegation against Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh has stepped down amid evidence he was fired from a previous political job in part because of a sexual harassment allegation against him.

Garrett Ventry, 29, who served as a communications aide to the committee chaired by Sen. Charles Grassley, R-Iowa, had been helping coordinate the majority party’s messaging in the wake of Christine Blasey Ford’s claim that Kavanaugh sexually assaulted her 36 years ago at a high school party. In a response to NBC News, Ventry denied any past “allegations of misconduct.”

After NBC News raised questions about Ventry’s employment history and the sexual harassment allegation against him, Judiciary Committee Spokesman Taylor Foy replied in a statement: “While (Ventry) strongly denies allegations of wrongdoing, he decided to resign to avoid causing any distraction from the work of the committee.”

And if anyone was still wondering how Whelan got Ford’s name, apparently someone he was in contact at the White House (most likely rhymes with Shill Bine or Mon DcGahn) gave it to him.

If you’re going to conspire to do something dodgy, you should really establish a set of best practices so what you’re doing isn’t 1) SO FUCKING OBVIOUS!!!! and 2) easily detectable by anyone who can trace a simple set of social and professional connections.

Who knew that when Andrew Breitbart, who, like Antonin Scalia, is still dead – unlike Paul Manafort and Mariia Butina who are just still in jail, but will one day die in prison from old age – was caught on video screaming “STOP RAPING PEOPLE!!!!” over and over he was speaking to conservative legal and judicial professional?

Open thread!

In Case You Missed It: Beto Vs Cruz – the Debating!

I didn’t know that this was tonight, or I would have put it up as a live stream. But in case you missed it, here’s the video of Congressman Beto O’Rourke debating Senator Ted Cruz at Southern Methodist University.

Beto and his family seem to thing he did well:

Also, apparently, Beto got his entire family’s allocation of human growth hormone!

Open thread!

Congressman Paul Gosar Will Not Be Joining His Family For Thanksgiving Dinner This Year


Congressman Gosar was last seen regaling the House of Representatives with tales of his ability to read body language.

Apparently this family rift goes back aways and has been broadening and deepening since the neo-NAZI and white supremacist marches and the domestic terrorist killing of Heather Heyer in Charlottesville, VA in 2017.

U.S. Rep. Paul Gosar, R-Ariz., is reopening his Facebook page to critics after facing a constituent lawsuit and national ridicule for an appearance on national TV last week in which he touted conspiracy theories.

That interview also exposed a deep-seated family rift, with Gosar’s brother repulsed by the congressman’s comments and warning that he would not let views aiding racists and anti-Semites go unchallenged.

In the interview with Vice News that aired on HBO, Gosar veered from discussing intemperate language on Facebook to raise far-right conspiracy theories. He suggested the deadly Charlottesville, Virginia, white supremacist rally was the work of a supporter of former President Barack Obama and that liberal activist George Soros had turned Jews over to the Nazis as a boy.

Gosar’s brother, David Gosar, who is a Wyoming lawyer, was so disgusted by the Soros comments and the effect it has on the family name that he offered to represent Morgaine in her lawsuit. He said in an interview with The Arizona Republic that eight of Gosar’s nine siblings don’t share his far-right views and suggested the family could become more vocal.

“If (Paul Gosar) had any guts or decency, he would apologize to George Soros on Vice News,” David Gosar said. “He never will because his base won’t like it, but he owes that man an apology.”

Be nice to your family!

Open thread!

Is Rod Rosenstein the Anonymous Op-Ed Writer?

Probably not, but this article in The Times suggests he was thinking along similar lines last year:

WASHINGTON — The deputy attorney general, Rod J. Rosenstein, suggested last year that he secretly record President Trump in the White House to expose the chaos consuming the administration, and he discussed recruiting cabinet members to invoke the 25th Amendment to remove Mr. Trump from office for being unfit.

Mr. Rosenstein made these suggestions in the spring of 2017 when Mr. Trump’s firing of James B. Comey as F.B.I. director plunged the White House into turmoil. Over the ensuing days, the president divulged classified intelligence to Russians in the Oval Office, and revelations emerged that Mr. Trump had asked Mr. Comey to pledge loyalty and end an investigation into a senior aide.

Mr. Rosenstein was just two weeks into his job. He had begun overseeing the Russia investigation and played a key role in the president’s dismissal of Mr. Comey by writing a memo critical of his handling of the Hillary Clinton email investigation. But Mr. Rosenstein was caught off guard when Mr. Trump cited the memo in the firing, and he began telling people that he feared he had been used.

Concern about Trump’s chaotic style — check.
Musings about the 25th Amendment — check.

I find the “feared he had been used” thing hard to believe. How could he expect anything else from Trump? Also, this:

The president’s reliance on his memo caught Mr. Rosenstein by surprise, and he became angry at Mr. Trump, according to people who spoke to Mr. Rosenstein at the time. He grew concerned that his reputation had suffered harm and wondered whether Mr. Trump had motives beyond Mr. Comey’s treatment of Mrs. Clinton for ousting him, the people said.

Rosenstein can’t possibly be that naive. Recall that his memo excoriated Comey for sandbagging Clinton, even though that aspect is often overlooked in accounts of Comey’s firing. Rosenstein cannot possibly believe that the “lock her up” guy gave a flying shit about Clinton being treated unfairly.

Rosenstein issued a statement calling the story “inaccurate” and “factually incorrect.” Anyhoo, interesting, and it’ll probably drive Spanky even battier.

ETA: Someone on Twitter:

Maybe she’s right.

ETA 2: The fix is definitely in:

Dim Son dutifully chiming in after the story drops definitely confirms it’s a load of horse shit.

Aaaaand he finally went there…

Republican reactions to Dr. Blasey’s allegation that SCOTUS nominee Brett Kavanaugh sexually assaulted her in high school have been predictably crass, clueless and bizarre. Only one of those reactions has been surprising (to me, at least): Trump’s relative restraint. I think we all knew it wouldn’t last:

I feel a great disturbance in the GOP Force, as if millions of Republican voices suddenly cried out, “FUCKING SHUT THE FUCK UP, YOU STUPID FUCKING FUCK!” and were silenced (by cowardice).

ETA: Speaking of clueless assholes who aren’t helping their pal Kavanaugh with their dumb rants and foolish interventions:

Not good enough. We need a full accounting of how Special Ed coordinated his ill-fated smear job (of a Kavanaugh supporter!) with Republicans in Congress, the Federalist Society and maybe even White House advisers. Josh Marshall has the goods on that here.

Personal Security Arrangements

This morning, in the lees of my post about how the Senate GOP majority is likely to misplay their hand in regard to Dr. Christine Blasey Ford*, commenter dimmsdale asked the following question:

Adam, if you know, Id be curious to get an expert’s view of the kind of protection she should have. Thinking the sort of services Gavin DeBecker offers. do I have that right?

I’m generally familiar with DeBecker’s work, but cannot comment on exactly what his firm does as I’ve no first hand experience with it or him. I do hold a personal security and close quarters combatives tactical certification from a training course I took when I was in graduate school back in 1994. I took the course from one of DeBecker’s competitors. Other than working as one of the lead bouncers (coolers) at a large entertainment venue/nightclub for a few years in grad school, I have never actually been employed to do this type of work. I had the opportunity to take the course, decided it would be an interesting adjunct to martial arts training, and the added bonus was that British Special Operations legend Lofty Wiseman was one of the instructors!

Over the summer, I was contacted by one of our readers asking what I recommended for a friend who needed personal security protection due to an ongoing set of legal issues. My sanitized (references to location, person, etc.) recommendations are below as an answer to dimmsdale’s question.

  1.  I’m not sure I still have enough details, so keep that in mind when reading the following.
  2. The first thing your friend’s attorney needs to do is contact the local police and get something documented on the record about: a) the harassment that’s already happened and b) the general concern for your friend’s safety. This may include needing to request a restraining order/order of protection.
  3. If your friend and her attorneys are seriously concerned, then professionals need to be hired. Have the attorneys check to see if they can hire local law enforcement off duty to a) stay with your friend and park their cruisers in her driveway while doing so and b) serve as a personal security detail.
  4. If local law enforcement where you’re at doesn’t do this, then the attorneys need to ask for increased police patrols in her neighborhood and at her place of work.
  5. If local law enforcement where you’re at doesn’t do this, then the attorneys need to hire professionals who work in work in your state. Usually these will be private investigators/private security professionals licensed to work in your states and often these folks are retired law enforcement, military, and/or intelligence personnel. They should be licensed, bonded, and insured. If the latter is not the case, then your friend’s attorney will need to ascertain the liability insurance that will be need to be purchased, and then purchased, in order to legally protect whomever you’ve hired to provide personal security.
  6. If they’re targeting your friend, change her appearance. If she’s got long hair, cut it short. If she’s got short hair, change the style and start letting it grow out or get a good wig. If she’s blonde, die it a dark color. If she’s brunette or has black hair, dye it blonde. If she’s conservative, style it provocatively and die it hot pink, purple, and green. If she likes to dress casual – jeans,  t-shirts, button down shirts, pullovers, – put her in bonnets, sundresses, and sandals. If she likes to wear skirts and dresses, put her in jeans, boots, and button down shirts. If she dresses professionally, dress her casually, if she dresses casually, dress her professionally. Basically make it harder to quickly identifier on the street, in a restaurant or store, or in a crowd. The same suggestions apply to men using appropriate male attire.
  7. Get a dog and put it in her house as an early warning system. And make sure it isn’t unattended outside as pros, or knuckleheads who think they are, will try to bait and either sedate or bait and kill the dog to get it out of the way.
  8. If she doesn’t have it already, order a decent home surveillance camera system and have it installed. Something that uploads to the cloud and streams to her phone and her attorneys’ phones.
  9. If they’ve got a good target on her car, get her a different car with different tags.
  10. If possible, just get her out of town to some place safe where she can be protected. Or relocate her in town. Some place with limited access and clear sight lines with people she can trust. Don’t just stash her at a hotel or B&B.
  11. If you all are this worried about her security, don’t try to DIY this. Have it all done properly and professionally. Have the attorneys document everything they felt had to be done, have her and the attorneys and whichever professionals are hired document anything that might be suspicious or a concern, no matter how slight or coincidental or seemingly explainable.
  12. If she has a firearm: a) ascertain if she actually believes she can use it if she has to, b) ascertain if she’s got the training to do so under stress, c) and then it has to be on her person at all times. Home carry, bathroom carry, shower carry (make sure to protect against rust), on the nightstand when she sleeps, carry outside the home to work, the store, church, etc. Anywhere she can legally have it and carry it would need to be carried. And it has to be on body carry. No purse carry. No trunk or glove box carry. On the body where it can be unlimbered and brought to bear on target quickly and effectively. If she doesn’t really believe she could use it and/or is uncomfortable carrying it everywhere then it either needs to go into a proper safe and stay there for the duration or given to a friend who’s not involved in any of this mess for safekeeping. Otherwise it’ll be taken from her and used against her. Same thing if she’s got a “front closet” shotgun or rifle. It’s either always within arm’s reach when at home or it’s secured in a safe. She can’t be in the bedroom sleeping and the shotgun is in the front hallway closet where she can’t get to it.
  13. If you’re going to hire professionals, defer to their judgement on whether your friend should be armed.

Updated at 11:46 PM EDT

14. Turn off the geolocation on your devices and social media so you can’t be tracked through using your various social media accounts or through your fitness monitoring device.

15. There are two options for what to do about online/social media. Either shut and lock everything down and go completely dark, or lock everything down as much as possible security wise, but continue to use it to give the impression that nothing out of the ordinary is going on.

Also, Anne Laurie sent this along from the ACLU:

If the #MeToo movement had caught on in 1997, the many people coming forward would still have had to worry about getting sued, in addition to the myriad other consequences of challenging their harassers. But because it caught on in 2017, they also have to worry about getting hacked and being subject to mass online attacks, trolling, and other forms of harassment that can unfortunately be the cost of speaking out.

I’m a technologist with the ACLU’s Speech, Privacy, and Technology team, but outside of my day job, I’ve been working for the better part of a decade with people — mostly, but not all, women — who have been targeted online. I’ve also been a sexual-misconduct whistleblower myself, so I know the personal cost of speaking out. People often feel powerless in the face of unknown threats from the internet, but there’s a lot that whistleblowers can do to stay safe while coming forward.

The digital defense tips below are for individuals. They address threats against specific people, not the systemic problem of harassment. There’s an important conversation happening about how institutions — from universities to software platforms to law enforcement — handle online threats. In the meantime, though, these are some concrete things that individuals can do to feel a little safer about speaking out and confronting power.

Much more at the link!

I CANNOT STRESS ENOUGH that you want professionals involved if you are seriously concerned for her safety and well being!!!!! And I can’t stress enough that these discussions should be had with her attorneys and between them and local law enforcement and then whichever professionals are hired.

In the case of Dr. Blasey’s, there are a couple of other items to be considered. The first is that because a lot of the threats that have been made have been made online, and because her email has been hacked and she’s been impersonated online and in social media, her attorney needs to get the local FBI Field Office and the state police/state bureau of investigation involved. The former will also, partially, get around the White House’s refusal to ask the FBI to do a supplementary background check regarding her allegations against Judge Kavanaugh. The second, as I stated in item #11 in the list of suggestions above, is that Dr. Ford, her family, and her attorney should not try to establish their security as a DIY project. Given the political moment we’re living in, this is not the time to wing it. Unfortunately one of the prices of Dr. Blasey’s courage in coming forward is that her life as she and her family know it is now over.


* There was a robust discussion in the comments last night as to whether it is Dr. Blasey, Dr. Ford, or Dr. Blasey Ford. My understanding from the reporting is that she uses Blasey as her professional surname and Ford, which is her married name, as her personal surname. I’m using Dr. Blasey because unless/until it is otherwise reported, this is how she wishes to be professionally known.