One way to tell whom you should and shouldn’t trust among reporters on social media is to look at how they’re summarizing this letter, sent today to Chuck Grassley by Mark Judge’s lawyer. Are they emphasizing the part where Judge says he has “no memory” of the incident, which might sound like a weaselly non-denial if it were offered in isolation? Or are they including the part where he says flatly that he never saw Kavanaugh act in the way Ford alleges?

If that’s not clear enough for you, Judge told the Weekly Standard last Friday (before he learned the name of his accuser but after he’d been told the substance of the accusation) that “it’s just absolutely nuts.” In an interview later with the NYT, he was emphatic that it was completely out of character for Kavanaugh:

“I never saw anything like what was described,” he said in an interview after being informed that he was named in the letter.

Further, he said, it did not match Mr. Kavanaugh’s character: “It is not who he is.” He said that the two were around each other constantly in high school, and recalled him as a “brilliant student,” who was very into sports, and was not “into anything crazy or illegal.”

Mr. Judge, an author, filmmaker and journalist who has written for the conservative Daily Caller and The Weekly Standard, said that the students were raised in Catholic homes and taught that the kind of behavior as described in the letter would not be tolerated. “Something like that would stick out,” he said, “which is why I don’t think it would happen.”

Pretty clear, yet lefties who’ve discovered Judge’s memoir about drinking heavily in his youth have spent the last few days drilling down on him telling the Standard that he has “no recollection” of the incident, conveniently omitting all of Judge’s assurances that Kavanaugh wouldn’t have behaved this way. What if Judge was blacked out from drinking when it happened? Fair enough, but then all of us who have ever imbibed to the point of passing out are possible eyewitnesses to rape. We just don’t remember it because, well, how would we?

To me, the “no recollection” phrasing smells like lawyer-ese imposed on Judge by his attorney to soften his assertions a tiny bit just in case it can be proved that he, Ford, and Kavanaugh were in fact all at a party together in or around 1982. That wouldn’t be that remarkable — what are the odds prep-school teens who lived in the same area would end up drinking together? — but the more Judge stakes his credibility on the fact that it never happened and never would have happened, the more his credibility will be damaged if it can at least be proved that all three were in the same place at the same time. Better to say that he simply can’t remember anything like this. If you had a habit of partying 35 years ago, how solid would your memory be of any particular party? “No memory” is the safer, lawyerly option.

All of that said, Judge’s inclusion in Ford’s narrative is paradoxically one of the strongest reasons to believe her. That’s counterintuitive since having a second person in the room, an alleged eyewitness to the whole thing, deny that it happened turns it into a “she said, they said.” Not good for Ford. Look at it this way, though: If she were fabricating the incident whole cloth, why on earth would she claim that a third person was there and saw it with his own eyes? (And not just saw it but actually helped prevent the rape from happening because he kept laughing and jumping on Kavanaugh and Ford while the assault was unfolding.) That third person is guaranteed to deny it, if only to protect himself from potential criminal liability and the complete ruin of his reputation. Someone who was out to smear Kavanaugh and willing to tell any lie to do so would have made this story short and not-sweet: We were at a party, we were alone in a room talking, and he raped me. No one else saw it. No one else was in the room. Mentioning that Judge was there smacks of someone telling the whole truth even when it’s against her interest to do so.

Although of course there’ll be an answer to that. If this is an orchestrated hit, naturally Ford and her Democratic friends would have thought through clever ways to add details that seem to bolster her credibility. Normally it would be highly risky to say a third person was present for a fictional event since it’s possible that records would show that person was out of town at the time. But since Ford can’t provide a date or a place that this happened, there’s really no harm in including Judge in her story even if she’s making it up. Of course he’ll deny he was there and of course he won’t be believed given his own incentive to deny it. Why not add him to the narrative?

By the way, Senate Republicans seem willing, if not enthusiastic, to give Judge a pass on testifying. When asked if the only non-participant eyewitness to the incident should be compelled to speak at Monday’s hearing, Lindsey Graham said, “No reason to. He’s already said what he’s going to say.” Um, what? We “know” what Ford and Kavanaugh will say too, by and large, and they’re not getting a pass. Judge isn’t some character witness for the nominee. He allegedly saw the assault happen with his own eyes. Of course it’s important that he testify. What Graham’s worried about, I assume, is that Democrats will rake Judge over the coals for his youthful partying and get him to admit that his buddy Brett was known to show up and knock a few back too. The “logic” will proceed thusly: Was Kavanaugh ever drunk? “Sure.” Was he ever reeeeeally drunk? “Probably.” Well, then he must have tried to rape Ford. QED.

Here’s a new smear on Kavanaugh that’s being advanced by one of the frontrunners for the 2020 Democratic nomination. Watch him admit that he followed a code of silence about wrongdoing! (Then go watch the fuller speech on YouTube and you’ll see that he was joking.) Surely this proves that he’s a rapist, no?