The Insane Theory of Mistaken Identity In The Kavanaugh Sexual Assault Allegation

Ken AshfordCongress, Crime, Republicans, Sex Scandals, Supreme Court, Trump & AdministrationLeave a Comment

I watched this unfold in real time on Twitter.  it was bizarre:

Ed Whelan, a former law clerk to Justice Antonin Scalia and the president of a think tank called the Ethics and Public Policy Center, took this theory to a new, wildly irresponsible place on Thursday night, actually identifying a classmate of Kavanaugh’s at Georgetown Prep, and suggesting that he, not the future judge, might have attempted to rape Ford.

The tweetstorm showed the results of Whelan’s internet sleuthing. The supposed evidence (which we are not embedding because there’s no reason to think the classmate was actually involved) includes:

• A Google map of where Ford, Kavanaugh, and other alleged witnesses lived when they were in high school.
• Real estate photos of the home where Whelan thinks the incident might have occurred, based on Ford saying the house was “not far from” the Columbia Country Club.
• A floor plan that shows that the upstairs bathroom is across from a bedroom in this house, just like Ford described.
• And finally, the big reveal: 35 years ago, this was the home of a Georgetown Prep student who looks kind of like Kavanaugh and was also friends with Mark Judge (who was allegedly present during the assault). Yearbook photos and a current photo of the classmate are provided for comparison to Kavanaugh.
As Twitter users discussed the irony of the head of the Ethics and Public Policy Center possibly being sued for defamation, Whelan added a disclaimer:

To be clear, I have no idea what, if anything, did or did not happen in that bedroom at the top of the stairs, and I therefore do not state, imply or insinuate that Garrett or anyone else committed the sexual assault that Ford alleges.
— Ed Whelan (@EdWhelanEPPC) September 20, 2018

Note: “Garrett” was the last name of the individual fingered by Whelan.

Ford quickly issued a statement dismissing the theory. She said of Kavanaugh and the classmate, “I knew them both, and socialized with” them. She said she’d visited the other classmate in the hospital, so “there is zero chance that I would confuse them.”

So…  based on Ford’s statement that the assault took place “not far” from a particular country club, Whelan found a house only half a mile from the club, where, 36 years ago, a person who looks a bit like Brett Kavanaugh, and who is friends with Kavanaugh’s friends, once lived. What’s more, Whelan pulled some floorplans from Zillow to show that the layout of the house conforms to Ford’s account. Bingo!

And Whelan seemed so SURE.  Politico reported on Tuesday that Whelan had told at least three associates that his confidence in his assertions is “close to 100 percent.” His claims reportedly sparked “intense speculation” among conservatives and even White House aides.

But Whelan’s claim is the only one being taken seriously by conservatives, including several close to Kavanaugh, who were tantalized by his assertions, given his decadeslong friendship with Kavanaugh and close involvement with the nomination process. A graduate of Harvard Law School who served as a law clerk to the late Justice Antonin Scalia, and a blogger on legal issues for National Review Online, he has worked alongside Federalist Society executive director Leonard Leo advising the White House on judicial nominations.

“Ed Whelan is the model of careful, discerning legal analysis and commentary. It’s why all of us who know him take everything he says and writes so seriously,” said Rich Lowry, the editor of National Review, where Whelan writes on judicial issues.

Unfortunately, Whelan’s theory went over like a lead balloon.

Even right-wing outlets from Hot Air to the Washington Examinerdismissed the theory and said Whelan was wrong to identify the classmate. “It is inconceivable that this Whelan defense will help Kavanaugh in any way. In fact, it’s so nasty and desperate-seeming that it taints Kavanaugh, despite that fact that he might have had nothing to do with it,” wrote The American Conservative’s Rod Dreher.

The Post reported that top Republicans tried to distance themselves from Whelan after his tweetstorm flopped:

Republicans on Capitol Hill and White House officials immediately sought to distance themselves from Whelan’s claims and said they were not aware of his plans to identify the former classmate, now a middle school teacher, who could not be reached for comment and did not answer the door at his house Thursday night.

All Whelan did was vividly illustrate why Republicans are wrong to reject Ford’s call for an FBI investigation prior to her testimony.

This morning, Whelan deleted all those tweets, and wrote this:

He didn’t retract his theory; he only apologized for the “mistake” of actually naming the guy.

Whelan’s apology is weak. It wasn’t like he just blurted something out. He spent days constructing this crackpot theory, previewing it to friends and influential activists and then published a long thread detailing it.

The bizarre thing is that this wasn’t a nutjob like Alex Jones or Glenn Beck. This was (supposedly) a former Scalia law clerk and “respectable” conservative thinker coming up with this nonsense.

What is curious to me is that there seemed to be advanced notice of this.  For example, the communications guy for Senator Orrin Hatch specifically tweeted to look for Ed Whalen tweets for some big deal involving Kavanaugh, and tweeted that HOURS before Whalen tweeted anything. 

As part of the team of Republicans working to coach Kavanagh through his Senate hearings, Whelan admits he spent days creating this “theory” before spewing it across Twitter, and he discussed it with others involved in Kavanaugh’s nomination. Unknown at this time:

  • Was Kavanaugh part of creating the plan to escape blame by accusing a middle school teacher of sexual assault?
  • With Kavanaugh at the White House every day this week, was Whelan also working on this scheme inside the White House?
  • Who else was aware of Whelan’s scheme before he went public with it on Thursday?
  • Were Fox and other media outlets prompted that this story was coming?

Whelan certainly wasn’t the only Republican pushing this idea. Senator Orrin Hatch (R-UT) has already suggested that Dr. Blasey Ford might be “mixed-up” in naming Kavanaugh. On Tuesday, the Wall Street Journal ran an editorial calling the accusation against Kavanaugh a “me too ambush” and stating that “mistaken identity is also possible.” Just a day before Whelan went on his Twitter rant, Washington Post columnist Kathleen Parker published a column in which she referenced the WSJ editorial and pondered whether or not there could be “a Kavanaugh doppelganger” saying that “as crazy as that sounds” the idea that Dr. Ford mistook someone else for Kavanaugh “would make the most sense.”

So did Whelan coordinate all of this with Kavanaugh and/or Sen. Orrin Hatch?  If so, it not only makes the nominee look guilty as hell, a conspiracy to cover up the allegations against Kavanaugh is disqualifying in and of itself, not to mention potentially illegal.

But the Senate Judiciary Committee now claims they had no foreknowledge of the Whalen tweetstorm.

But on the other hand….

I suspect that Kavanaugh will be asked about this.  For example, he seemed to know the identities of all the people at the party where the alleged assault took place.  How did he get that information?

Meanwhile, Trump, who even *I* praised yesterday for showing remarkable restraint, has become untethered and started tweeting crazy things about Kavanaugh this morning.

Ironically, at 9:13 a.m. on Friday, Kellyanne Conway told reporters that President Trump didn’t need to be advised not to attack Dr. Christine Blasey Ford — the woman who has accused Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh of sexually assaulting her — because he knew it was the wrong thing to do.

“There’s no reason to attack her,” Conway said. “The president doesn’t need anybody to tell him. He does the right thing.”

One minute later — ONE MINUTE LATER — Trump opened up on Twitter and attacked Ford.  And these are particular stupid tweets.

Yes, WHY didn’t a scared 15 year old teenager call the FBI 36 years ago?

On Sept. 6, speaking about the allegations of sexual abuse of boys by Catholic priests, to the Daily Caller, Trump said the crisis in the Catholic Church is “so sad to watch.”

“The numbers, the length of time, you know, going back 70 years, I think it’s having a really negative impact on the Catholic Church,” Trump said, according to The Daily Caller. “To me it’s one of the sadder stories ’cause I respect so much the Catholic Church. And to me it’s a very sad story.”

Source: USA Today

But apparently, that doesn’t apply to sexual assault of a woman.

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).\

UPDATEWhelan denies that the White House knew about his tweet beforehand

A conservative legal commentator and former clerk to Justice Antonin Scalia on Friday denied communicating with the White House or Judge Brett M. Kavanaugh about his theory that the woman accusing Kavanaugh of sexual assault while they were teenagers was mistaking him for someone else.

Ed Whelan, in a brief interview with The Washington Post, declined to answer further questions about his tweets or views on Kavanaugh’s Supreme Court nomination process, which has been upended by the allegation of an assault decades ago.

“I have not communicated at all with [White House counsel] Don McGahn or anyone at the White House, or Judge Kavanaugh, about the topic of the Twitter thread,” Whelan said when reached by phone.

Whelan’s comment follows his apology on Twitter Friday morning for naming a former classmate of Kavanaugh’s and suggesting the man could be responsible for the assault Ford alleges.