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    Friday, October 07, 2022

    A bench, a chair and two front doors

    When Christine Blasey Ford told her husband about being sexually assaulted 30 years earlier, they were in couples therapy over her insistence that the remodeling of their house must include two front doors.

    So she testified under questioning Thursday by the Senate Judiciary Committee about her allegation that Supreme Court nominee and federal Judge Brett Kavanaugh assaulted her when they were teenagers, in 1982. In the witness chair she recalled hearing the laughter of the boys involved. Among the lasting effects of the incident, she said, were anxiety, PTSD, and specifically claustrophobia from having tried several times to escape the assault; and, when she finally did, having to go out the front door past a bunch of teenagers.

    Two front doors: a psychological assist to the persistent fear of being prevented from getting away.

    Late Friday, President Trump, reversing his previous stance, ordered a new FBI probe of Kavanaugh, saying it must be "limited in scope" and last no longer than a week. His decision followed a vote of 11 to 10 along party lines to move Kavanaugh's nomination to the full Senate, despite the members having appeared impressed with Ford's credibility and sympathetic to her suffering.

    Republican Sen. Jeff Flake of Arizona, who had said earlier, "There is doubt. We'll never move beyond that. Have a little humility on that," had said he would not support final confirmation unless the FBI investigated. Flake voted with the majority on the committee but said it would be appropriate to delay the floor vote for up to a week to allow an investigation.

    As Rhode Island Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse, a member of the committee's Democratic minority told Ford, she met all the standards of a credible witness: vivid and detailed recollection, consistency, passing a lie detector test, and being willing to testify with cross examination by a prosecutor. She was composed despite nervousness, and said she had asked for an FBI investigation before the nomination hearings for Judge Kavanaugh.

    An infuriated Kavanaugh took the witness seat but almost rose out of it as he roared his bitter protest over the "circus" that he said has "destroyed" his life and his family's. He categorically and repeatedly denied ever having assaulted the teenaged Christine Blasey or any woman, defended his teenage fondness for drinking beer, said he had never blacked out from alcohol consumption, and blamed Senate Democrats for "a coordinated effort to destroy my good name and my family."

    Pressed repeatedly by Democratic senators to request an FBI investigation that could clear his name, he did not agree to it.

    Americans, millions of whom were riveted by broadcasts and streaming of the daylong hearing, are left with she said, he said, and a damaged nominee whose fury was not tempered by his years of experience on the federal bench. It was a spectacle.

    After Thursday's testimony the American Bar Association president wrote to Grassley and ranking member Sen. Dianne Feinstein that there should not be a vote until the FBI investigates, citing the basic principles of the Senate's constitutional duty of advice and consent on federal judicial nominees. The dean of Yale Law School, Kavanaugh's alma mater, also called for the inquiry.

    The editors of the Catholic periodical "America" went further. The magazine, published by the Jesuit order — the same religious order that operates Georgetown Preparatory School, where Kavanaugh went to high school — said his nomination should be withdrawn.

    Both the ABA and the magazine had previously supported the Kavanaugh nomination.

    Kavanaugh asserted Thursday that he would not withdraw, despite being unwilling to seek exoneration through FBI interviews with potential witnesses to that house party in Maryland. A propensity for drunken blackouts can't be ruled out on his own flat denial; if those never happened, his friends would be able to say under oath that they never witnessed such episodes.

    Both the nominee and the accuser have suffered greatly because of the handling of these charges, but the one who is willing to have her story corroborated is the more credible, and the one who is not appears to have something to hide. The investigation is essential.

    The Day editorial board meets regularly with political, business and community leaders and convenes weekly to formulate editorial viewpoints. It is composed of President and Publisher Tim Dwyer, Managing Editor Izaskun E. Larrañeta, staff writer Erica Moser and retired deputy managing editor Lisa McGinley. However, only the publisher and editorial page editor are responsible for developing the editorial opinions. The board operates independently from the Day newsroom.

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