Jacques: It’s OK to be skeptical of #MeToo claims

Ingrid Jacques
The Detroit News
Protestors rally against Supreme Court nominee Judge Brett Kavanaugh as they make their way from the Supreme Court to the Hart Senate Office Building on Capitol Hill, September 24, 2018 in Washington, DC. Christine Blasey Ford, who has accused Kavanaugh of sexual assault, has agreed to testify before the Senate Judiciary Committee on Thursday.

This must be playing out better than Democrats had dreamed.

Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh’s reputation has been dragged through the mud, with lurid allegations against him better suited for the National Enquirer than the mainstream press.

Yet this is the new reality, where foggy, decades-old accusations are treated as fact before Kavanaugh has had a chance to give his testimony. (He strongly denies all allegations against him). And now Michael Avenatti, the lawyer who represents porn star Stormy Daniels, says he has a client accusing Kavanaugh and others of spiking drinks so they could assault girls. She claims she was gang raped at a high school party she believes Kavanaugh attended. 

By delaying a confirmation vote, in addition to the hearing (now set for Thursday) where Kavanagh and his first accuser can have their say, Democrats have let the allegations stew among the public.

And stew they have. Discourse is dominated by hashtags, and people are taking sides before they really know any of the facts. Kavanaugh accuser Christine Blasey Ford has a host of support among women’s groups and liberals.

On social media, #IBelieveHer, #BelieveSurvivors and similar sentiments are widespread — even before the hearing.

Ford, who alleges Kavanaugh pinned her down and tried to take off her clothes at a high school party 36 years ago, is scheduled to testify at a Senate hearing Thursday. Now that another accusation surfaced over the weekend in a New Yorker report, Democrats had hoped to further delay any hearing.

These women have every right to come forward. But their stories should be scrutinized carefully, and Kavanaugh deserves the right to defend himself.

There is good reason to be skeptical of the accounts.

In the case of Ford, she’s been unable to recall where the alleged incident took place — or the exact month it happened. She’s also offered conflicting accounts about who was there. In her original letter from July to Sen. Dianne Feinstein, the ranking Democrat on the Judiciary Committee, Ford says that four others were at the party. But all four have denied any involvement.

The most damning denial came over the weekend from Leland Keyser, a longtime friend of Ford, who says she doesn’t know Kavanaugh and doesn’t recall ever being at a party with him.

So Ford is the only one who seems to remember that party ever happened. Ford’s attorney Debra Katz has downplayed the significance of this. It’s worth noting Katz has clear Democratic affiliations and has described herself as part of the resistance against President Donald Trump. She also has ties to leftist mega donor George Soros, who is also said to be funding the protesters disrupting the Kavanugh hearings.

The second allegation has even more holes. A new accuser, Deborah Ramirez, alleges Kavanaugh exposed himself to her at a drunken party during their freshman year at Yale. She admits her memories aren’t very clear.

The New Yorker reports: “After six days of carefully assessing her memories and consulting with her attorney, Ramirez said that she felt confident enough of her recollections to say that she remembers Kavanaugh had exposed himself at a drunken dormitory party.”

Yet the magazine couldn’t confirm with anyone else whether Kavanaugh was actually there, and others outright disputed the claim. 

Apparently allowing these allegations to get out and do their damage is what Democrats wanted. Just in case it wasn’t obvious that’s the goal, Sen. Mazie Hirono, D-Hawaii, and Judiciary Committee member, told CNN’s Jake Tapper on Sunday that her mind is already made up about Kavanaugh.

Tapper asked, “Doesn’t Kavanaugh have the same presumption of innocence as anyone else in America?”

And she answered: “I put his denial in the context of everything that I know about him in terms of how he approaches his cases.”

In other words, she doesn’t like his judicial background so she is willing to assume he’s guilty of sexual assault — even on flimsy evidence. That’s frightening coming from a U.S. senator.

To his credit, Kavanaugh isn’t giving up. But he is losing public support. A recent Fox News poll found that 40 percent of voters would confirm Kavanaugh, while 50 percent oppose him.

In a letter Monday, Kavanaugh told Judiciary Chairman Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa, and Feinstein that he is looking forward to the hearing.

A tentative agreement was reached Saturday for the Senate Judiciary Committee to hear testimony Thursday from Christine Blasey Ford, left, and Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh, according to two people briefed on the matter.

He also offered an insightful warning:

“There is now a frenzy to come up with something — anything — that will block this process and a vote on my confirmation from occurring. These are smears, pure and simple. 

“Such grotesque and obvious character assassination — if allowed to succeed — will dissuade competent and good people of all political persuasions from service.”

That’s worth thinking about. And hopefully after Thursday’s hearing, we’ll all know more.