Senate Republicans Reach a New, Wholly Unsurprising Low


On Tuesday, Republicans on the Senate Judiciary Committee, ever eager to confirm Brett Kavanaugh to a lifetime appointment on the Supreme Court, released a statement filled with lurid personal details from a man who says he is the former boyfriend of Julie Swetnick, the third woman who has publicly come forward alleging Kavanaugh had a history of sexual misconduct while a young man.

Last Wednesday, Swetnick, who is being represented by Michael Avenatti, came forward with allegations that she had personally witnessed Kavanaugh and his friend Mark Judge drink excessively and act verbally and physically aggressive towards girls while at house parties in the early 1980s. She also alleges that they participated in what she describes as “gang rape,” and that they were both present at a party where she says she was drugged and raped. (In an interview with NBC, she walked back some of the claims she made in her previous statement, while other reporting has questioned Swetnick’s credibility based on a history of legal disputes unrelated to her allegations against Kavanaugh.)

The statement eagerly shared by Republicans—it is telling that it appears to have been released on the very same day they received it—is baldly meant to cast doubt not only on her allegations, but to shame and humiliate her. The letter comes from Dennis Ketterer, a former meteorologist who once ran for Congress, who said he briefly dated Swetnick in the early 1990s. In the statement, Ketterer shared details of what he claims are Swetnick’s sexual preferences, writing that she had “never said anything about being sexually assaulted, raped, gang-raped or having sex against her will. She never mentioned Brett Kavanaugh in any capacity.”

I don’t know if what Swetnick has alleged is true. And it’s troubling that she has contradicted some key details in her initial statement. But much of what she describes—the house parties, the drinking—occurred, according to Kavanaugh’s peers. But her allegations should be taken seriously—and carefully investigated—in order to provide her and the entire process the dignity and gravity that the situation demands. This is not what is occurring.

Rather than carefully performing their due diligence—looking for and interviewing witnesses who could either corroborate or deny her allegations and allow her to be interviewed by the FBI, with all the sensitivity that basic human decency should require when handling issues of sexual assault and people who say they have been the victims of assault—the Republican men of the Senate Judiciary Committee have published deeply intimate allegations about the sex life of a woman who says she is the victim of sexual assault. It’s fucking disgusting.

On Tuesday, Avenatti (Swetnick’s attorney who is himself doing a terrible disservice to his client by turning her allegations into a circus) tweeted out a sworn statement from a witness who corroborates some of Swetnick’s claims as well as an email he sent to the Senate Judiciary Committee urging that she be interviewed by the FBI. His account is now protected, so we’ve shared screenshots below:

Here are screenshots of the email and the declaration from the witness Avenatti referenced and included in his tweet:

It’s clear that the FBI investigation is a sham, meant to give the nomination process the sheen of legitimacy. It’s clear, too, that Avenatti, with his hunger for celebrity, should not be representing any of the women involved in this case. Whether or not Kavanaugh is confirmed, the women who stepped forward during this process deserve so much better than the vile bullshit they are being put through right now.

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