It turns out that the Keystone Cops detective work by conservative legal activist Ed Whelan — which set Washington abuzz with the promise of exonerating Brett Kavanaugh, only to be met by mockery and then partially retracted — was not his handiwork alone.
CRC Public Relations, the prominent Alexandria, Virginia-based P.R. firm, guided Whelan through his roller-coaster week of Twitter pronouncements that ended in embarrassment and a potential setback for Kavanaugh’s hopes of landing on the high court, according to three sources familiar with their dealings.
Steve Schmidt, an outspoken critic of the president who worked for Republicans before leaving the party, said that Mr. Whelan had been the “singularly most important and effective outside adviser involved in the confirmation effort” of two earlier Republican court nominees whom Mr. Schmidt helped lead.
“He is a brilliant, meticulous and serious lawyer,” Mr. Schmidt wrote on Twitter on Friday. “He is not a conspiracy nut. It is inconceivable to me that Whelan published that email without discussions, debate and assistance from the WH and GOP Senators and staff.”
He added, “It is not the isolated musings of one man but rather part of a broader discreditation strategy.”
In a statement through her lawyers, Dr. Blasey flatly rejected the possibility that she had confused Judge Kavanaugh with the classmate identified by Mr. Whelan.
“I knew them both, and socialized with” the classmate, Dr. Blasey said. She noted that she had once even visited the classmate in the hospital. “There is zero chance that I would confuse them.”
[A]s some commentators — including conservative ones — were quick to point out, Kavanaugh needs to clarify whether he had any advance knowledge of this strategy of pinning the blame on someone else.
Senior Democratic aides tell me that, in the upcoming Judiciary Committee hearing, Senate Democrats are likely to pose questions along these lines directly to Kavanaugh, when he is under oath.
Earlier this week, Kavanaugh told Sen. Orrin G. Hatch (R-Utah), one of his most fervent supporters, that Ford has the wrong perpetrator in mind and that he has not attended a party like the one Ford described in an account she gave The Post this week of the alleged assault.
President Trump directly questioned for the first time on Friday the veracity of the accusations levied by a woman who has said Judge Brett M. Kavanaugh sexually assaulted her while they were both teenagers.
Mr. Trump said in a Twitter post that if the alleged attack “was as bad as she says,” charges would have been filed by the woman, Christine Blasey Ford, or her parents.
He asked her to produce contemporaneous law enforcement reports “so that we can learn date, time, and place!”
I have no doubt that, if 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. I ask that she bring those filings forward so that we can learn date, time, and place!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) September 21, 2018
Many women are reluctant to come forward and report sexual assaults to authorities, in part because they fear they will not be believed.
Washington Post reporter, Abigail Hauslohner, tweeted:
I was 17. Raped by a friend. I was confused. In denial. Afraid. His parents were richer & better connected than my parents. He was a "good" student. Ppl liked him. The only friend I told–responded w: "He wld never do that." I didn't think anyone would help me. #WhyIDidntReport https://t.co/YbCuIMg07M
— Abigail Hauslohner (@ahauslohner) September 21, 2018
[B]y Friday morning, Whelan had deleted the tweetstorm and was apologizing—not for the the general claims he had issued out into the atmosphere, but for the specific way they had treated the classmate in question. “I made an appalling and inexcusable mistake of judgment in posting the tweet thread in a way that identified Kavanaugh’s Georgetown Prep classmate,” Whelan tweeted. “I take full responsibility for that mistake, and I deeply apologize for it. I realize that does not undo the mistake.”
In this, he is correct: It does not. Which isn’t to say, however, that Whelan’s “revelations” aren’t, in their own way, revealing—about, in this case, the lengths to which people will go to resist negative assertions made about a powerful man who is currently in the process of seeking more power. About the desperation with which some will find facts that conform to their sense of the world—even when, summoned as arguments, those “facts” are manifestly absurd. About how deeply ingrained the impulse remains, in American culture, to doubt the memories of women, when they conflict with the memories of men.