Report: Senate Aides Knew of Second Kavanaugh Sexual Assault Claim & Tried to Rush His Confirmation

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Senator Dianne Feinstein is calling for the immediate postponement of the nomination proceedings of Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh after a second woman has come forward alleging sexual misconduct by the judge. Deborah Ramirez, a former classmate of Kavanaugh’s at Yale University, has accused him of exposing himself and thrusting his penis into her face during a college party in a dorm room. Ramirez spoke on the record to The New Yorker and is now calling on the FBI to investigate her allegations. The New Yorker revealed Republican Senate aides learned of Ramirez’s allegations last week and responded by trying to quickly move Kavanaugh’s nomination ahead before the allegations became public. This comes as Dr. Christine Blasey Ford has agreed to testify before the Senate Judiciary Committee on Thursday about her allegations that Kavanaugh attempted to rape her when she was 15 years old and he was 17 years old. Kavanaugh has denied both accusations. We speak with Jodi Jacobson, president and editor-in-chief of Rewire.

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This is a rush transcript. Copy may not be in its final form.

AMY GOODMAN: The top Democrat on the Senate Judiciary Committee, Senator Dianne Feinstein, is calling for the immediate postponement of the nomination proceedings of Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh after a second woman has come forward alleging sexual assault by the judge. The former classmate of Kavanaugh’s at Yale University has accused him of exposing himself and thrusting his penis into her face during a college party in a Yale dorm room. The woman, Deborah Ramirez, spoke on the record to The New Yorker magazine and is now calling on the FBI to investigate her allegations. The New Yorker revealed Republican Senate aides learned of Ramirez’s allegations last week and responded by trying to quickly move Kavanaugh’s nomination ahead, before the allegations became public.

This comes as Dr. Christine Blasey Ford has agreed to testify before the Senate Judiciary Committee, that will be on Thursday, about her allegations that Kavanaugh attempted to rape her when she was 15 years old, and he 17. Kavanaugh has denied both accusations. On Friday, President Trump openly questioned Dr. Christine Blasey Ford’s claim. He tweeted, “[I]f the attack on Dr. Ford was as bad as she says, charges would have been immediately filed with local Law Enforcement Authorities by either her or her loving parents.” That’s the president of the United States, President Trump, who himself has been accused by many women of sexually assaulting or harassing them.

But more than 1,100 alumnae of the Holton-Arms School, the Maryland prep school that Blasey Ford graduated from in 1984, have signed a letter in support of her, saying they’re grateful she came forward to tell her story. In a minute, we’ll go to Washington, D.C., to speak with the person, Alexis Goldstein, a Holton-Arms alum, who spearheaded the letter. But first we’re joined here in New York by Jodi Jacobson, president and editor-in-chief of Rewire. Her latest piece is headlined ”GOP Wants 'Aunt Lydia' and Attack-Dog Staffer to Question Dr. Blasey Ford.”

Welcome to Democracy Now!

JODI JACOBSON: Thank you, Amy.

AMY GOODMAN: It’s great to have you with us, Jodi.

JODI JACOBSON: Thank you for having me.

AMY GOODMAN: So, I mean, these revelations, these exposés, these allegations are coming out one after another. There’s even a third. We’ll talk about that in a moment. But talk about the latest New Yorker piece about the second woman who has come out, after Dr. Blasey Ford accused Judge Kavanaugh of attempting to rape her.

JODI JACOBSON: So, as you mentioned earlier, Deborah Ramirez talked to both Jane Mayer and Ronan Farrow at The New Yorker to tell them her story of having been at a party where there was a lot of drinking and where, during that party, she remembers having someone take down their pants, put their penis in her face and force her to touch it. And she could not remember exactly—she had taken some time to talk with other people before she came forward to make sure that her memories coordinated—or not coordinated, but corroborated with theirs. And when she did come forward, she said that she remembered—one flash of memory was that Brett Kavanaugh was pulling his pants up, as he was laughing at her after having thrust his penis in her face.

So, you know, here’s another person who is coming forward into really a maelstrom of political debate around a man who has credible allegations from Dr. Blasey Ford, and the Senate GOP Judiciary Committee refuses to investigate either of these at this point. And I think it warrants an FBI investigation, because if you really want to know the truth—and I don’t think the GOP does—then you would do an investigation before you seated a man on the highest court. If you made clear that sexual assault and sexual harassment were serious crimes that you took seriously, you would do an FBI investigation.

AMY GOODMAN: So, Deborah Ramirez then went on to spend years working with assault victims—

JODI JACOBSON: Yes.

AMY GOODMAN: —with domestic violence survivors. She lives in Colorado. Also, like Dr. Christine Blasey Ford, very hesitant to come forward.

JODI JACOBSON: Very hesitant to come forward, as would anyone be, right? Because you’re talking about a long time ago, you’re talking about people who are very prominent in Washington circles, and you’re also talking about an attack machine that has millions of dollars to put against you.

We just saw last week that one of the GOP consultants, Garrett Ventry, who is associated with the firm that Ed Whelan is associated with—and he’s the lawyer who last week floated this ridiculous theory that it was a doppelgänger of Kavanaugh who actually attacked Dr. Blasey Ford—he floated that on Twitter and later apologized. This guy Garrett Ventry is associated with Ed Whelan and their firm, and he was found to have sexually harassed someone and was fired from his previous job.

AMY GOODMAN: And explain who he was working for. He was a consultant with the Senate Judiciary Committee.

JODI JACOBSON: He is a consultant with the Senate Judiciary Committee, working with the same PR firm, let’s say, that swift-boated Kerry. And so, there’s a whole interconnected right-wing communications attack machine here. And Garrett Ventry had been himself fired from his previous job due to sexual harassment. So, almost invariably, every time you overturn a rock, there’s some guy associated with the White House, and now with the Kavanaugh hearings, who has been involved in sexual harassment.

AMY GOODMAN: And explain who Mike Davis is.

JODI JACOBSON: So, Mike Davis—and I wrote about this in the piece that you referenced—Mike Davis is the chief counsel for the GOP—the Senate GOP judiciary, for Grassley. And he was the guy who was—there was being floated last week, before a public hearing was agreed to, this idea that Chuck Grassley would have a, quote-unquote, “fair, private” questioning period with Christine Blasey Ford in California. He was going to send staffers, his staffers, out there to interview her in private, and then come back with a judgment on whether or not she was saying something that was—you know, saying whether or not she could be credible.

So what he was doing, effectively, was suggesting he would send his chief counsel out to California to privately interview Dr. Blasey Ford and come back with whatever he decided. This is the guy that last week, at the same time that he was being floated as the person to interview her, tweeted, “Unfazed and determined. We will confirm Kavanaugh.” So, this is not in an impartial person that they were sending out to question Dr. Ford. Again, if you want to know what happened, if you care about sexual assault and sexual harassment, you have an impartial hearing and an impartial investigation. And there’s not a single shred of evidence that the GOP wants that impartial investigation.

AMY GOODMAN: And then Dr. Christine Blasey Ford, what she has agreed to and what the Senate Republican leadership—Senator Chuck Grassley and the other Republican senators—have not yet agreed to? She will be there with security. She doesn’t want the man she alleges attempted to rape her, Brett Kavanaugh, in the room at any point with her. What hasn’t been agreed to is who will question her.

JODI JACOBSON: Right.

AMY GOODMAN: She says she wants the senators to question her. This is a problem for the Republican senators on the Judiciary Committee. They are all male, and they don’t want those optics. It is said that they want a female lawyer to question them.

JODI JACOBSON: Yeah.

AMY GOODMAN: And she is saying she does not accept that.

JODI JACOBSON: Right. Well, it’s the constitutional duty of the senators on the Judiciary Committee to conduct the questioning. And the reason they don’t want to be in front of the camera on this is because a couple of them are holdovers from the Anita Hill hearing, and they treated her very poorly, as you may well remember. And watching those tapes is gut-wrenching. So they don’t want to be the public face. And they want to put what I would call an “Aunt Lydia” there—a woman who is meant to sort of take on another woman in support of the patriarchy. And they think, somehow, in some twisted analysis, that this makes them look better. It doesn’t make them look better. It makes them look afraid.

AMY GOODMAN: We’re going to go to a 30-second break, then come back, and we’ll be joined by Alexis Goldstein. We have to hurry with her; she’s racing to the Supreme Court. There will be major protests around the country today, a kind of walkout, and she will be protesting at the Supreme Court. Jodi Jacobson will stay with us. She’s president and editor-in-chief of Rewire. And we’ll link to her piece, ”GOP Wants 'Aunt Lydia' and Attack-Dog Staffer to Question Dr. Blasey Ford.” Back in 30 seconds.

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