Published 2:13 PM EDT Oct 1, 2018
The Christine Blasey Ford-Brett Kavanaugh hearing last week was an avalanche of emotion, confusion, uncertainty and frustrating irresolution. Kavanaugh behaved less than admirably, offering evasive responses at some points and hostile ones at others. And Ford's testimony, while raw and affecting, left several big unanswered questions. The FBI, in its investigation this week, should try to resolve at least some of them. Failure to do so could deal a serious blow to Ford’s credibility.
1. What’s in the therapist’s notes? Ford’s account of an alleged sexual assault by Kavanaugh when they were both teens shifted in several notable ways. At various times she has described it as occurring in the mid-1980s, the 1980s and the early 1980s. In its first bombshell report on the accusations, the Washington Post said that it had acquired “portions of” a therapist’s notes in which Ford detailed the crime; in notes from "an individual therapy session the following year," Ford makes the claim that the attack happened in her late teens, which in future claims she brought down to 15. The notes also say that “four boys were involved” in the crime, which Ford (who claims only two boys were involved) said was “an error on the therapist’s part.”
It would be very helpful for the Senate to see the therapist’s notes and compare them to her current claims. Unfortunately, Ford’s lawyers are refusing to release the notes to Congress, calling such a proposal an “unacceptable invasion of privacy.”
Ford said she didn't remember "physically showing" the Post her copy of the notes. But in its original report, the newspaper said Ford herself provided "portions" of the notes for review. If Ford was willing to give the Post some of the critical notes in some form, why not Congress, or at least the Senate Judiciary Committee?
2. How did Ford get home? Ford’s details of the attack are very specific and clear in some cases, very vague in others. She is 100% certain that it was Kavanaugh who sexually assaulted her, and she remembers other little details — that she only had one beer at the party, for instance — but she cannot remember when the attack took place, or at whose house, or how she got there.
Perhaps most strikingly, Ford claims she does not remember how she got home. She says she ran out of the house after Kavanaugh assaulted her; in her testimony she told the Senate: “I do not remember [how I got home] other than I did not drive home.”
This is a significant memory lapse. If a friend gave her a ride, he or she might be an important additional witness who could perhaps corroborate some of Ford’s claims. It's at least possible a friend would remember picking up Ford outside the party, and there’s a chance Ford might have seemed distraught enough to make the event stick out in the driver's mind. Alas, no such witness has come forward, and Ford’s memory is blank on the matter.
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I was falsely accused and my reputation was disparaged. I don't regret fighting back.
This raises another, critical question: If her memory has lapsed so significantly, how reliable is her claim that she didn’t drive? If Ford indeed did not have a driver's license at the time of the assault, as she testified, then a 1982 date does seem likely. But by her own admission her memory of how she got home is incomplete — leaving the year of the assault wide open.
3. Why did Ford talk to Mark Judge after he allegedly participated in an assault on her? Ford said she ran into Judge at a local Safeway around “six to eight weeks” after the attack. Per a book written by Judge, he worked at a grocery store the summer prior to his senior year of 1982-83, which would validate Ford’s claim that the event took place in the summer of 1982.
According to Ford, she and Judge had been friendly when they occasionally saw each other over the previous two years. But when she ran into Judge at the Safeway and said hello, he was white-faced and "very uncomfortable saying ‘Hello’ back,” Ford said. “I wouldn’t characterize him as not friendly. He was just nervous and not really wanting to speak with me.”
This is rather astonishing. Ford has said that she was deeply traumatized by the sexual assault; that the “immediate impact” of the event was when it was the worst for her; that the total impact was so strong that decades later it would factor into how she wanted to remodel her house (she requested a second front door because the alleged incident left her with a sense of claustrophobia); that she has experienced “anxiety, phobia and PTSD-like symptoms” due to the assault; and that in general the alleged incident had an immediate, terrible and lasting effect on her life.
If this is true, why would she say hello to Mark Judge? Indeed, leading up to the hearing last week, Ford’s attorneys demanded that she not even appear in the same room as Kavanaugh at the same time; and this is over 30 years after the alleged assault, not “six to eight weeks.”
Speaking from some limited personal experience, I can say that talking to someone who has targeted you for sexual assault is something you avoid at all costs, whether it’s turning around and walking out of the room, walking quickly by your attacker, or finding some other way to get out of his sight as fast as humanly possible.
I hope the FBI is looking into these questions. Its investigation could yield valuable information for the Senate and the American public. Both deserve answers from everyone involved in this devastating episode.
Daniel Payne is an assistant editor at "The College Fix" and blogs at at TrialoftheCentury.net.