Thursday saw quite the drama as Christine Blasey Ford was questioned by the Senate Judiciary Committee followed by a rather volatile Brett Kavanaugh. Friday, Chuck Grassley felt that both sides were believable, but there was one major problem with one of Kavanaugh’s facts. If he had bothered to watch Ford’s testimony prior to his, he might have tailored his ‘facts’ more.
Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh misrepresented the record Thursday when he stated that three witnesses had refuted Christine Blasey Ford’s allegation that he sexually assaulted her at a party more than 30 years ago.
The three swore they had no recollection of the party — providing no support for Ford’s accusations laid out to the Senate Judiciary Committee. But their statements do not disprove the allegations, either.
KAVANAUGH: “Dr. Ford’s allegations are not merely uncorroborated, it’s refuted by the very people she says were there.”
THE FACTS: The statements in question do not corroborate Ford’s allegations, but they also do not exonerate Kavanaugh. They leave open the possibility that people at the small gathering forgot about it or were not in a position to witness the assault.
Even Mark Judge, who Ford says was in the bedroom when Kavanaugh sexually assaulted her, has not denied that such an episode took place. His sworn statement to the committee says “I have no memory of this alleged incident,” ″do not recall the party” and “never saw Brett act in the manner Dr. Ford describes.”
In another statement, Patrick J. Smyth, identified by Ford as being among those downstairs at the party, says “I have no knowledge of the party in question; nor do I have any knowledge of the allegations of improper conduct she has leveled against Brett Kavanaugh.’”
And the lawyer for Ford’s friend, Leland Ingham Keyser, said in a statement that “Ms. Keyser does not know Mr. Kavanaugh and she has no recollection of ever being at a party or gathering where he was present, with, without, Dr. Ford.”
Kavanaugh accurately summarized those statements when he told senators: “All of the people identified by Dr. Ford as being present at the party have said they do not remember any such party ever happening. Importantly her friend Ms. Keyser has not only denied knowledge of the party. Ms. Keyser said under penalty of felony she does not know me, does not ever recall being at a party with me ever.”
A highly anticipated meeting between President Donald Trump and Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein was postponed until next week to avoid conflicting with a dramatic Senate hearing involving Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh, the White House said Thursday.
The two were set to meet Thursday following news media reports that Rosenstein last year discussed possibly secretly recording the president and using the Constitution’s 25th Amendment to remove him from office.
But White House spokeswoman Sarah Huckabee Sanders said the men agreed to reschedule their meeting because “they do not want to do anything to interfere with the hearing.”
Amid speculation that the meeting could result in Rosenstein’s dismissal or resignation, Trump said Wednesday that he would “certainly prefer not” to fire Rosenstein and that the Justice Department’s No. 2 official had denied making the remarks first attributed to him in a New York Times report.
“I would much prefer keeping Rod Rosenstein,” Trump said at a news conference in New York. “He said he did not say it. He said he does not believe that. He said he has a lot of respect for me, and he was very nice and we’ll see.”
Trump added, “My preference would be to keep him and to let him finish up.”
White House counselor Kellyanne Conway would not say Thursday when the meeting would take place, but stressed that the two will talk and Trump has made clear “he would prefer that the deputy attorney general stay on the job and complete the job.”
Rosenstein is overseeing special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 election, and his dismissal would put that probe in jeopardy and create a political storm.
The meeting delay prolongs the uncertainty of Rosenstein’s status. Rosenstein headed to the White House on Monday morning preparing to be fired and had discussed a possible resignation over the weekend with White House officials. But after meeting with chief of staff John Kelly and speaking by phone with Trump, he got a reprieve with the Trump meeting scheduled for Thursday.
Since then, the White House has sought to tamp down anxiety that Rosenstein would be fired.
White House officials called senators Monday to say Trump had said he wouldn’t be firing Rosenstein at the meeting, according to two people familiar with the conversations who spoke on condition of anonymity to discuss private discussions. Aides have advised Trump against taking any extreme actions ahead of the midterm elections with his party’s majorities in Congress already under threat.
Friends and former colleagues of Rosenstein say they don’t expect him to step aside and give up oversight of the Russia investigation and the enormous swath of Justice Department operations for which he is responsible.
Rosenstein, who has spent his entire career in government, “has tremendous loyalty to the department,” said former Justice Department lawyer and longtime friend James Trusty.
“He’s a very long-run, historical-minded guy in a lot of ways,” Trusty said. “I think he may have some confidence that history will be kinder to him than politicians are.”
Trump’s remarks Wednesday followed a chaotic period that began last Friday with reports that Rosenstein had last year discussed possibly secretly recording the president and invoking the Constitution to remove Trump from office. The Justice Department issued statements aimed at denying the reports, including one that said the wiretap remark was meant sarcastically.
Rosenstein appointed Mueller in May 2017, oversees his work and has repeatedly defended the breadth and scope of the probe. Trump has been critical of Rosenstein’s oversight of the probe, but the two have at times displayed a warm working relationship, and Rosenstein has been spared some of the more personal and antagonistic broadsides leveled against Attorney General Jeff Sessions.
Though Rosenstein appears poised to survive the week, it’s not clear how much longer he’ll be around. Trump has signaled that he may fire Sessions after the November midterms, and Rosenstein could go with him.
But it could be sooner: Some officials around Trump believe Rosenstein’s reported musings about invoking the 25th Amendment could make it defensible for Trump to part with him, even in the final sprint to Election Day.
Rosenstein’s friends and former colleagues describe him as exceptionally committed to the Justice Department — one said he “bleeds” for the agency — and unlikely to leave on his own, though they say he respects the chain of command enough to resign if asked.