Far too often we find ourselves whipped into a national frenzy because of some narrative dominating the news cycle, only to set it aside weeks later and nearly forget about it. Whether it be the separation of families at the border, the opioid epidemic, net neutrality, tensions with North Korea, voter fraud, or any number of other examples, it seems as if there is always some new “national crisis” that demands our full attention, prompting us to forget about the previous emergency. And since one crisis is immediately followed by another, we never seem to stop and process what we should have learned through these nationally shared experiences. What then should we have learned from Dr. Christine Blasey Ford’s accusation that Judge Brett Kavanaugh sexually assaulted her approximately 36 years earlier when they were both in high school?
Dr. Ford’s accusation surfaced hours before the Senate Judiciary Committee’s vote on the Supreme Court nominee Judge Brett Kavanaugh. Judge Kavanaugh denied the charge, stating, “I categorically and unequivocally deny this allegation. I did not do this back in high school or at any time.” He also requested an immediate opportunity to testify before Congress under oath in an effort to clear his name. Instead, Kavanaugh was made to wait 11 days before testifying, during which time the situation grew into what Senator John Kennedy (R-LA) later called an “intergalactic freakshow.”
Not only did the news media breathlessly report an avalanche of unsubstantiated rumors, they also actively sought to find additional witnesses who could testify against Kavanaugh. Despite having passed multiple FBI background checks granting him the highest level of security clearance and his record as a judge, Brett Kavanaugh was presumed guilty until proven innocent by a large portion of the news media and nearly an entire political party. Over the course of approximately two weeks, his reputation was completely destroyed as several additional accusations surfaced:
- Julie Swetnick: In a sworn declaration Tweeted out by her attorney, Michael Avenatti, Julie Swetnick said she witnessed Kavanaugh repeatedly engage in “inappropriate contact of a sexual nature with women during the early 1980s.” She also witnessed Brett Kavanaugh and Mark Judge spike the punch bowl with drugs and then “‘target’ particular girls” so they could be gang raped by a “‘train’ of numerous boys.” This happened at “well over ten house parties.” She herself was eventually gang raped, and Brett Kavanaugh and Mark Judge were said to be present. However, in an interview with MSNBC, Swetnick softened most of these claims, admitting that she never actually witnessed Kavanaugh spike punch bowls or engage in gang rape activity.
For weeks, NBC sat on evidence that exonerated Kavanaugh of these accusations and discredited Michael Avenatti and his clients. Moreover, the Senate Judiciary Committee has referred her lawyer, Michael Avenatti, to the Justice Department for submitting a fraudulent sworn statement to the committee on October 2. It has also referred both Avenatti and Swetnick to the Justice Department for the crimes of conspiracy, providing materially false statements to Congress, and obstructing a Senate investigation.
- Deborah Ramirez: After six days of “carefully assessing her memories and consulting with her attorney,” Deborah Ramirez told The New Yorker that Brett Kavanaugh exposed himself to her at a college party 35 years ago. Ramirez admitted that she has significant memory gaps from excessive drinking during the time of the event, but reporters convinced her to speak publicly. She also contacted classmates asking if they recalled the incident and confessed to some of them that she could not be certain it was Kavanaugh who had exposed himself to her. The New Yorker did not confirm with other witnesses that Kavanaugh was at the party, and The New York Times “interviewed several dozen people … in an attempt to corroborate her story, and could find no one with firsthand knowledge.”
- Jeffrey Catalan: Senator Sheldon Whitehouse’s (D-RI) office received an anonymous call saying that in 1985, a “close acquaintance” of his aboard a boat “was sexually assaulted by two heavily inebriated men” whom she identified as Brett Kavanaugh and Mark Judge. When investigators discovered the identity of the accuser to be Jeffrey Catalan, he retracted his accusation, saying that he had “made a mistake.” He has since been referred by the Senate Judiciary Committee to the Justice Department for knowingly providing false statements and obstructing a Congressional investigation.
- Anonymous: Senator Corey Gardner (D-CO) received an anonymous letter claiming that at a bar in 1998, an inebriated Brett Kavanaugh “shoved her friend up against the wall very aggressively and sexually.” When asked about the allegation, Kavanaugh responded, “We’re dealing with an anonymous letter about an anonymous person and an anonymous friend.”
Ultimately, even Dr. Blasey Ford’s testimony collapsed under its own weight. Special victims prosecutor Rachel Mitchell, who questioned Dr. Ford during the Congressional hearing, noted numerous inconsistencies and determined that “the activities of congressional Democrats and Dr. Ford’s attorneys likely affected Dr. Ford’s account.” Mitchell concluded that there is insufficient evidence to satisfy the preponderance-of-the-evidence standard, noting that her case is “even weaker” than a “he said, she said” case.
Dr. Ford’s testimony lacked any key corroborating details, such as the location, the year of the alleged incident, or how she got home from the party. The only details she seemed to remember were those potentially damaging to Kavanaugh. And everyone she claimed was at the party with her denied any knowledge of the party, including her best friend, LeLand Keyser, who said she has “no recollection of ever being at a party or gathering where [Kavanaugh] was present, with, or without, Dr. Ford.” Nevertheless, numerous senators publicly declared that they believed Dr. Ford, inciting mass protests against Kavanaugh across the country.
Several weeks later, the Senate Judiciary Committee released a 414-page report exonerating Judge Brett Kavanaugh of all wrongdoing:
After an extensive investigation that included the thorough review of all potentially credible evidence submitted and interviews of more than 40 individuals with information relating to the allegations, including classmates and friends of all those involved, Committee investigators found no witness who could provide any verifiable evidence to support any of the allegations brought against Justice Kavanaugh. In other words, following the separate and extensive investigations by both the Committee and the FBI, there was no evidence to substantiate any of the claims of sexual assault made against Justice Kavanaugh. The details of the Committee’s investigation, broken down by claim, are provided below.
So, what can we learn from this debacle? Certainly, we see that even our nation’s most prominent news sources have chosen to allow partisan politics and ratings to influence their reporting. In this case, they led the charge in a public lynching of Brett Kavanaugh based upon nothing more than unsubstantiated rumors, emotional fervor, and a preferred narrative. Surely this qualifies as “fake news”—something that is both destructive and dangerous as it can invoke God’s judgment upon a nation. As such, we are reminded of the need to be discerning and critical of those who would tell us what to believe.
But we can also learn from this the wisdom of God’s Word. A single witness is not sufficient for any crime. When God established a judicial system for the new nation of Israel, He decreed, “A single witness shall not suffice against a person for any crime or for any wrong in connection with any offense that he has committed. Only on the evidence of two witnesses or of three witnesses shall a charge be established” (Deut. 19:15).
Rather than “believe all women without exception,” if our nation had demanded a corroborating witness—whether it be a person, forensic evidence, or a written record—we may have avoided this entire affair. “Believe all women” may sound more compassionate, but in this instance, it proved to be downright cruel to one of our nation’s model citizens—not to mention the emotional turmoil it wreaked upon his family and the nation at large.
Lest we dismiss this wisdom from God because it belongs to the Old Testament Law, keep in mind that it was God’s preferred system of justice for His chosen people. Moreover, it is a principle that is repeated throughout the New Testament (Matt. 18:15–16; 2 Cor. 13:1; 1 Tim. 5:19).
Also, we can learn the truth of God’s Word when it warns, “When the sentence for a crime is not quickly carried out, people’s hearts are filled with schemes to do wrong” (Ecc. 8:11). Had Judge Kavanaugh been permitted to immediately defend his character before Congress, like he requested, much of the salacious reporting may have been averted. More importantly, the anonymous accusers along with Julie Swetnick, Deborah Ramirez, and Jeffrey Catalan would not have been emboldened to fabricate false accusations against Judge Kavanaugh. By delaying justice for Judge Kavanaugh, our Congress invited the vilest of accusations.
Finally, Proverbs 6:16–19 teaches, “The LORD hates … a false witness who breathes out lies, and one who sows discord among brothers.” We may dismiss this incident as typical politics, but God does not proffer any excuse for such behavior. Instead, He hates it. Moreover, the discord sown by Kavanaugh’s false accusers lead our nation’s leaders dangerously close to carrying out an injustice that certainly would have received God’s attention, giving Him yet another reason to remove His hand of blessing and protection from our nation. Thankfully, many of our nation’s leaders had the discernment to see through what was taking place.
God’s Word truly is a treasure trove of wisdom for those who are humble enough to accept it. Let’s not dismiss this national scandal without taking a moment to learn from it. If nothing else, we should be encouraged to seek God’s wisdom in all matters.
1. de Vogue, Ariane and Phil Mattingly. “Democrats Send ‘Information’ Concerning Kavanaugh Nomination to FBI.” CNN, n.d. Last Updated September 13, 2018. Accessed September 24, 2018. https://www.cnn.com/2018/09/13/politics/kavanaugh-feinstein-letter-fbi/index.html.
2. Shabad, Rebecca. “Kavanaugh Denies Allegations by Woman who Says He Tried to Force Himself on Her in the 1980s.” NBC News, September 14, 2018. Accessed November 29, 2018. https://www.nbcnews.com/politics/congress/kavanaugh-denies-allegations-woman-who-says-he-tried-force-himself-n909626.
3. Carlisle, Madeleine and Olivia Paschal. “Brett Kavanaugh’s Prepared Remarks to the Senate Judiciary Committee.” The Atlantic, September 26, 2018. Accessed November 29, 2018. https://www.theatlantic.com/politics/archive/2018/09/read-brett-kavanaughs-opening-statement-christine-blasey-ford/571372/.
4. O’Reilly, Andrew. “Kavanaugh Confirmation Process has been ‘an Intergalactic Freak Show,’ Sen. Kennedy Says.” Fox News, September 16, 2018. Accessed November 29, 2018. https://www.foxnews.com/politics/kavanaugh-confirmation-process-has-been-an-intergalactic-freak-show-sen-kennedy-says.
5. The New York Times. “Watch: Kavanaugh and Blasey Hearing | NYT News.” YouTube video, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HnczBf3DSnk (accessed September 29, 2018).
6. “Declaration of Julie Swetnick.” CNBC, September 26, 2018. Accessed November 29, 2018. https://sc.cnbcfm.com/applications/cnbc.com/resources/editorialfiles/2018/09/26/swetnickstatement.pdf.
7. Breuninger, Kevin. “Read the Full Sworn Statement from Julie Swetnick, the Third Woman to Accuse Supreme Court Nominee Brett Kavanaugh of Sexual Misconduct.” CNBC, September 26, 2018. Last Updated September 26, 2018. Accessed November 29, 2018. https://www.cnbc.com/2018/09/26/read-full-sworn-statement-from-brett-kavanaugh-accuser-julie-swetnick.html.
8. “Julie Swetnick Speaks about Alleged Behavior by Judge Kavanaugh.” Kate Snow and Julie Swetnick Interview. MSNBC video, October 1, 2018. Accessed November 29, 2018. https://www.msnbc.com/msnbc/watch/julie-swetnick-speaks-about-alleged-behavior-by-judge-kavanaugh-1334265923929.
9. Adams, Becket. “NBC Sat on Evidence Exonerating Justice Kavanaugh, Discrediting Michael Avenatti and His Clients’ Accusations.” Washington Examiner, October 26, 2018. Accessed November 29, 2018. https://www.washingtonexaminer.com/opinion/nbc-sat-on-evidence-exonerating-justice-kavanaugh-discrediting-michael-avenatti-and-his-clients-accusations.
10. Adams, Becket. “NBC Reporter Tries, Fails to Explain Why She Sat on Exculpatory Kavanaugh Evidence.” Washington Examiner, October 30, 2018. Accessed November 29, 2018. https://www.washingtonexaminer.com/opinion/nbc-reporter-tries-fails-to-explain-why-she-sat-on-exculpatory-kavanaugh-evidence.
11. Snow, Kate and Anna Schecter. “New Questions Raised about Avenatti Claims Regarding Kavanaugh.” NBC News, October 25, 2018. Accessed November 29, 2018. https://www.nbcnews.com/politics/justice-department/new-questions-raised-about-avenatti-claims-regarding-kavanaugh-n924596.
12. Segers, Grace. “Grassley Refers Avenatti to Justice Department for Second Criminal Investigation.” CBS News, October 26, 2018. Accessed November 29, 2018. https://www.cbsnews.com/news/michael-avenatti-chuck-grassley-justice-department-criminal-investigation-julie-swetnick-today-2018-10-26/.
14. “Second Avenatti Referral with Enclosures, Redacted.” Senate Judiciary Committee, October 26, 2018. Accessed November 29, 2018. https://www.judiciary.senate.gov/imo/media/doc/2018-10-26%20CEG%20to%20DOJ%20FBI%20(Second%20Avenatti%20Referral)%20-%20with%20enclosures_Redacted.pdf.
15. Farrow, Ronan and Jane Mayer. “Senate Democrats Investigate a New Allegation of Sexual Misconduct from Brett Kavanaugh’s College Years.” The New Yorker, September 23, 2018. Last Updated n.d. Accessed November 29, 2018. https://www.newyorker.com/news/news-desk/senate-democrats-investigate-a-new-allegation-of-sexual-misconduct-from-the-supreme-court-nominee-brett-kavanaughs-college-years-deborah-ramirez.
17. Stoleberg, Sheryl and Nicholas Fandos. “Christine Blasey Ford Reaches Deal to Testify at Kavanaugh Hearing.” The New York Times, September 23, 2018. Accessed November 29, 2018. https://www.nytimes.com/2018/09/23/us/politics/brett-kavanaugh-christine-blasey-ford-testify.html.
19. Carney, Jordain. “Kavanaugh Questioned about Rhode Island Sexual Assault Allegation.” The Hill, September 26, 2018. Last Updated September 26, 2018. Accessed November 29, 2018. https://thehill.com/homenews/senate/408666-kavanaugh-questioned-about-rhode-island-sexual-assault-allegation.
20. “BMK Transcript, Redacted.” Senate Judiciary Committee, September 25, 2018. Accessed November 29, 2018. https://www.judiciary.senate.gov/imo/media/doc/09.25.18%20BMK%20Interview%20Transcript%20(Redacted).pdf.
21. Hayes, Christal. “Kavanaugh Questioned about, Denies 2 Additional Accusations of Assault.” USA Today, September 26, 2018. Last Updated 27, 2018. Accessed November 29, 2018. https://www.usatoday.com/story/news/politics/2018/09/26/brett-kavanaugh-questioned-alleged-physical-sexual-assault/1437715002/.
22. Hasson, Peter. “Man Apologizes for Claiming Kavanaugh Sexually Assaulted His Friend, Says He ‘Made a Mistake.’” Daily Caller, September 26, 2018. Accessed September 29, 2018. https://dailycaller.com/2018/09/26/rhode-island-kavanaugh-made-a-mistake/.
23. Wong, Kristina. “Senate Report Reveals Christine Blasey Ford had an Encounter Similar to Her Kavanaugh Claim.” Breitbart, November 4, 2018. Accessed November 29, 2018. https://www.breitbart.com/politics/2018/11/04/senate-kavanaugh-ford-encounter-similar-claim/.
24. “Kavanaugh Report.” Senate Judiciary Committee, November 2, 2018. Accessed November 29, 2018. https://www.judiciary.senate.gov/imo/media/doc/2018-11-02%20Kavanaugh%20Report.pdf.
25. “Hunt, Kasie, Leigh Caldwell, Heidi Przybyla and Frank Thorp V. “Senate Probe New Allegation of Misconduct Against Kavanaugh.” NBC News, September 26, 2018. Accessed November 29, 2018. Last Updated September 26, 2018. https://www.nbcnews.com/politics/supreme-court/senate-probing-new-allegation-misconduct-against-kavanaugh-n913581.
27. “Read Prosecutor Rachel Mitchell’s Memo about the Kavanaugh-Ford Hearing.” Axios, October 1, 2018. Accessed November 29, 2018. https://www.axios.com/brett-kavanaugh-rachel-mitchell-prosecutor-memo-2c3233cc-1d42-416b-af04-02700aa9a711.html.
29. Boothe, Lisa. “Christine Blasey Ford Has a credibility Problem.” The Hill, October 3, 2018. Accessed November 29, 2018. https://thehill.com/opinion/judiciary/409651-dr-fords-credibility-problem.
31. “ICYMI – Schumer on ABC’s The View: ‘I Believe Professor Ford’; Schumer Urges Republicans Not to Rush through Nominee and Says FBI Should Complete Full Investigation before Both Judge Kavanaugh and Prof. Ford Testify before Senate Judiciary Committee.” Senate Democrats, September 17, 2018. Accessed September 24, 2018. https://www.democrats.senate.gov/newsroom/press-releases/icymi_schumer-on-abcs-the-view-i-believe-professor-ford-schumer-urges-republicans-not-to-rush-through-nominee-and-says-fbi-should-complete-full-investigation-before-both-judge-kavanaugh-and-prof-ford-testify-before-senate-judiciary-committee.
32. Morin, Rebecca. “Kamala Harris on Kavanaugh Accuser: ‘I Believe Her.’” Politico, September 18, 2018. Last Updated September 18, 2018. Accessed September 24, 2018. https://www.politico.com/story/2018/09/18/kamala-harris-kavanaugh-accuser-827907.
33. “Kavanaugh Accuser Wants FBI Investigation. TRANSCRIPT: 9/18/2018, All In w Chris Hayes.” MSNBC, September 18, 2018. Accessed September 25, 2018. http://www.msnbc.com/transcripts/all-in/2018-09-18.
34. “Senate Democratic Agenda.” C-Span, video, September 18, 2018. Accessed September 24, 2018. https://www.c-span.org/video/?451642-101/senator-murray-warns-gop-smearing-kavanaugh-accuser&start=509.
35. “Kavanaugh Report,” 3.
36. Hollander, Jenny. “Why ‘Believe Women’ Means Believing Women Without Exception.” Bustle, November 21, 2017. Accessed September 24, 2018. https://www.bustle.com/p/why-believe-women-means-believing-women-without-exception-5532903.