Kavanaugh, Ford hit with attacks over credibility

Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh and Christine Blasey Ford, who has accused him of sexual assault, have both seen their credibility come under attack as a handful of senators decide whether President TrumpDonald John TrumpFacebook releases audit on conservative bias claims Harry Reid: 'Decriminalizing border crossings is not something that should be at the top of the list' Recessions happen when presidents overlook key problems MORE’s nominee will be confirmed.

The attacks have grown increasingly ugly as the stakes have risen, with a Senate vote on Kavanaugh’s lifetime appointment possible by the end of this week.

Republicans have released a flurry of new letters and statements that appear to be aimed at undercutting Ford’s credibility, as well as that of two other women who have made accusations against the nominee.

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A friend of Ford’s, Monica McLean, rejected the latest accusation on Wednesday, saying Ford did not help prepare her for a polygraph exam. The accusation was made by a man who said he was Ford’s former boyfriend, and appeared aimed at undercutting Ford’s use of a polygraph test to back up her claims against Kavanaugh.

“I have NEVER had Christine Blasey Ford, or anybody else, prepare me, or provide any other type of assistance whatsoever in connection with any polygraph exam I have taken at anytime,” McLean said in a statement released by Ford’s legal team.

Kavanaugh, for his part, has seen a storm of stories unearthed about his behavior in high school and college, including his rental of a beach house and entries in his yearbook.

Republicans have been outraged over a number of the stories, and have accused the left and the media of deeply unfair treatment of the nominee.

Trump, perhaps seeking to channel some of that anger on Tuesday night, added to the unrest with remarks during a rally in Mississippi in which he mocked Ford for not being able to remember all of the details about the alleged assault.

“How did you get home?” Trump said. “‘I don't remember.’ How'd you get there? ‘I don't remember.’ Where is the place? ‘I don't remember.’ How many years ago was it? ‘I don't know.’”

All three GOP senators who are swing votes on Kavanaugh’s confirmation criticized the president’s remarks.

Democrats say Kavanaugh’s credibility should be at the center of a vote on his confirmation to the Supreme Court, where he would replace Justice Anthony Kennedy, for years a pivotal vote.

Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Chuck GrassleyCharles (Chuck) Ernest GrassleyWhite House denies exploring payroll tax cut to offset worsening economy Schumer joins Pelosi in opposition to post-Brexit trade deal that risks Northern Ireland accord GOP senators call for Barr to release full results of Epstein investigation MORE (R-Iowa) appeared to try to defuse the tension in a tweet on Wednesday.

“I hve long history of respecting ppl w courage to step fwd. JudiciaryCmte gave Dr Ford serious consideration she deservd as soon as I learnd abt her-Ppl can decide who to believe,” he said.

Grassley added: “But I plead w all: stop personal attacks &destruction of Dr Ford &her family or Jdg Kavanaugh &family.”

Spokespeople for Grassley didn’t immediately respond to a request from The Hill for a copy of the letter accusing Ford of helping McLean prepare for a polygraph test.

The letter, which also included other, more personal accusations against Ford and was first reported by Fox News, was seized on by conservative media outlets and pundits as evidence that Ford misled the Judiciary Committee during her testimony last week.

Grassley, in a letter to Ford’s legal team, asked for details of Ford’s polygraph, saying the committee had gotten a “sworn statement” from a long-time boyfriend saying Ford coached a friend.

A member of Ford’s legal team said she stood by her statement. A source close to Ford said she is not going to get into “tit-for-tat.”

Sen. Dianne FeinsteinDianne Emiel FeinsteinTrump administration urges Congress to reauthorize NSA surveillance program The Hill's Morning Report - More talk on guns; many questions on Epstein's death Juan Williams: We need a backlash against Big Tech MORE (D-Calif.) appeared to accuse Republicans of violating a law. 

“Now, in the midst of an FBI investigation, Republicans are interviewing former boyfriends of both Dr. Ford and Deborah Ramirez in a transparent attempt to discredit them. Rape shield laws and the federal rules of evidence are designed precisely to stop this sort of attack. The Judiciary Committee in 1994 expressly prohibited these abuses in the Violence Against Women Act,” she said. 

Ramirez has accused Kavanaugh of exposing himself to her when the two were at Yale. Kavanaugh has denied her charges.

In another move that raised eyebrows, Republicans on the Judiciary Committee released a letter from Dennis Ketterer, a former D.C. weatherman, describing a relationship he says he had with Julie Swetnick, who has alleged that Kavanaugh was present at a party where she was gang raped. Swetnick is represented by Michael Avenatti, the attorney for Stormy Daniels who is now mulling a presidential bid. He called the Ketterer letter “garbage.”

Senate GOP leadership aides also circulated an email of compiled press clips on Swetnick’s “credibility issues.”

Republicans have largely dismissed Swetnick’s allegation and she was initially not expected to be included in the FBI’s investigation unless leadership got pushback from key swing-vote senators.