As Brett Kavanaugh’s Supreme Court nomination wobbles on the edge of collapses amidst a wave of sexual misconduct allegations, Senator Feinstein (D-CA) has stepped forward with an unrelated, though still serious, accusation.
According to POLITICO, Feinstein is alleging that Kavanaugh misled the Senate about the way in which he handled grand jury “secrets” during when he worked for Independent Counsel Kenneth Starr in his investigation into President Bill Clinton.
Feinstein claims that Kavanaugh may have been in violation of grand jury secrecy laws when, during the investigation twenty years ago, he told officials to talk to reporters. Kavanaugh has insisted to Feinstein and Senator Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI) that he didn’t violate the rules in question.
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“According to a memo from the National Archives, Brett Kavanaugh instructed Hickman Ewing, a colleague and deputy independent counsel in the Starr investigation, to ‘call [Chris] Ruddy’ about matters before a grand jury, which would be illegal to disclose,” reads the statement Feinstein sent to POLITICO.
“I asked Judge Kavanaugh in questions for the record whether he had shared ‘information learned through grand jury proceedings.’ His answer, which says that he acted ‘consistent with the law,’ conflicts with the official memo from Mr. Ewing. Disclosing grand jury information is against the law and would be troubling for any lawyer, especially one applying for a promotion to the highest court in the country,” the statement continues.
Feinstein’s accusations center around Kavanaugh’s questioning of Patrick Knowlton, who was a witness for a grand jury in the Starr investigation. Kavanaugh asked him about a man Knowles said he saw in Fort Marcy Park shortly before Vince Foster committed suicide there. Foster was a Clinton White House lawyer, and an entire right-wing conspiracy has sprung up around his death, with more unhinged conservatives claiming the Clinton’s had him killed.
Knowlton later claimed that Kavanaugh asked him questions that implied he was in the park searching for a partner to engage in homosexual activity with. He asked if the man that Knowlton spotted passed him a note and if he touched Knowlton’s genitalia.
Knowlton went on to tell his story of what happened during the grand jury testimony to Christopher Ruddy of the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review, who was looking into the conspiracy theories around Foster’s death. Ruddy went on to become a close associate of President Trump.
When Kavanaugh learned from Ruddy what he had been told by Knowlton, he grew concerned. In turn, told Ewing to inform Ruddy that while he did ask about a possible note in the park, he didn’t ask about genitals touching. A memo penned by Ewing recorded Kavanaugh’s worries that the genitalia questions would go public. It appears he was concerned about the explicit line of questioning would be received poorly.
“I didn’t ask him that. I did ask him about sexual advances by the other man in the park. John Bates and I want you to call Ruddy — at least get him off the genitalia part. I am worried about that,” Kavanaugh said in a message left on Ewing’s voicemail. John Bates was a prosecutor working with Kavanaugh at the time.
Ewing obeyed Kavanaugh and reached out to Ruddy himself. He said that they were unable to comment on grand jury questions or answers because it’s illegal. However, Ewing then contradicted himself by specifically denying the “genital question” in an “off the record” statement.
Feinstein is now indicating that this disclosure, even if it was deep background, was illegal and violated grand jury secrecy. Stephen Gillers, a New York University law professor, explained to POLITICO how deeply, legally problematic the actions of Ewing and Kavanaugh were.
“The information disclosed — that ‘genitalia’ was not used at the grand jury — is trivial and if that were done through a slip of the tongue, it would not be a story. But Ewing made the disclosure after getting an off the record promise and knowing that what he then told Ruddy violated the rule. Kavanaugh asked Ewing to get Ruddy ‘off’ the use of the word and that required Ewing to violate the rule as he realized,” said Gillers.
While it’s as yet unclear what the ramifications of Feinstein’s allegations will be, it’s a disturbing addition to the nation’s growing perception of what kind of man Kavanaugh is.
Regardless of whether or not he’s sexual predator, it seems increasingly likely that he’s at the very least a habitual liar. Such a man has no place on the country’s most powerful court.