Who needs the FBI? According to The Sentinel’s Brian Karem, “investgators in Montgomery County” have opened an investigation into an allegation of sexual assault involving Brett Kavanaugh. Or at least that’s what the story originally reported:
Investigators in Montgomery County confirmed Monday they’re aware of a potential second sexual assault complaint in the county against former Georgetown Prep student and Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh.
While investigators weren’t specific and spoke on background, they said they are looking at allegations against Kavanaugh during his senior year in high school after an anonymous witness came forward this weekend.
This would potentially bring the number to four women accusing Kavanaugh of wrongdoing and comes after Deborah Ramirez, a former Yale college student, stepped forward this weekend to accuse Kavanaugh of exposing himself to her in college, and after attorney Michael Avenatti tweeted out a message saying he represents a woman with “credible information regarding Judge Kavanaugh and Mark Judge.”
On Friday, Karem reported that the Montgomery County police chief said they would investigate any complaint filed. Looks like someone took them up on the offer. Or did they? Not according to the police department itself:
The chief of police in Montgomery County, Maryland, says his officers are not looking into sexual misconduct allegations against Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh, appearing to contradict a local news report that “investigators” were looking at a potential second high school misconduct allegation.
“I have spoken with my chief of detectives, and neither of us have any knowledge of anyone coming forward to us to report any allegations involving Judge Kavanaugh,” police chief J. Thomas Manger told the Washington Examiner in an email.
The Washington Examiner’s Steven Nelson suggests that this might be a bit of rhetorical bait-and-switch by Karem, a White House correspondent known for grandstanding:
The local publication did not identify the “investigators” as police, but ordinarily police would investigate an alleged crime before a decision on whether to prosecute.
The police issued a statement denying that “investigators in Montgomery County” had anything to do with the police department:
At this time, the Montgomery County Police Department has not received a request by any alleged victim nor a victim’s attorney to initiate a police report or a criminal investigation regarding Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh.
Later in the day, Karem updated his story to remove the “Investigators in Montgomery County” phrase, but replaced it with this: “Government investigators confirmed Monday they’re aware of a potential second sexual assault complaint in the county against former Georgetown Prep student and Supreme Court nominee Kavanaugh.” Government, eh? He had framed this story with earlier offers to check out any complaints filed regardless of the passage of time, coming from Manger and the local prosecutor:
President Trump refused to direct the FBI to investigate the allegations, but Montgomery County’s Prosecuting Attorney John McCarthy confirmed this weekend he would direct the Montgomery County Police Department to investigate any complaint brought against Kavanaugh, “But no complaint has been filed or forwarded to this office,” he explained.
Montgomery County Police Chief Tom Manger said, “We are prepared to investigate if the victim wants to report to us, and we can determine it occurred in the county.”
A very careful parsing of Karem’s original report shows that, while he uses the earlier Manger and McCarthy comments as context, the report never actually identifies the “investigators” as associated with law enforcement. The use of the phrase “government investigators,” however, is suspicious as well. The MCPD would be the law enforcement agency with jurisdiction, and they’re denying it. Is he talking about the FBI? If so, why not report that, which would also be big news? Do these investigators people who work for the Judiciary Committee — and if so, which side? Or are these people who used to be “government investigators” but who work on their own now?
Karem had also noted that “police investigators” have spoken on background discussing the difficulties in investigating such claims:
Police investigators, speaking on background, said Ford’s accusations – occurring approximately 36 years ago presented other difficulties to investigators. “There is no forensic evidence, there is a question of where it occurred and when and who was around. But we will do what we can if we are called upon to do it.”
This seems to be a deceptive attempt to paint Kavanaugh as a target of a criminal probe. Between Manger’s denial and Karem’s parsing, it appears that someone (in government?) may have sent private investigators to Montgomery County to dig up dirt on Kavanaugh anywhere they can find it. Now that would be news, which Karem seems unwilling to report directly.
Who might be sending PIs to Maryland to dig up dirt based on an “anonymous witness,” apart from the “government”? It might be a media outlet, perhaps even the Sentinel itself, as a means to get a new Kavanaugh scoop. It might have been one or more members of the Senate Judiciary Committee. It could be Michael Avenatti, attempting to corroborate a client’s claims. Avenatti is certainly pushing the narrative today:
Warning: My client re Kavanaugh has previously done work within the State Dept, U.S. Mint, & DOJ. She has been granted multiple security clearances in the past including Public Trust & Secret. The GOP and others better be very careful in trying to suggest that she is not credible
— Michael Avenatti (@MichaelAvenatti) September 24, 2018
Whatevs. Credibility does not come from security clearances, as numerous people have proven over the years. It comes from having evidence to back up claims, whether that be political, legal, or moral claims, which is why Avenatti might have sent a few people to poke around. Still, the hand behind the PIs (assuming that’s what they are and that Karem’s report has any connection to reality) might be others with a political axe to grind against Kavanaugh, Republicans, and/or Donald Trump, a category with potentially millions of suspects. Avenatti’s hardly alone, and he’s hardly the one with the deepest pockets either.
It seems unlikely that, even with a complaint, the police would send detectives out to canvass neighborhoods. If it’s about the Ford allegations, she failed to offer key details necessary for a local investigation — the place of the alleged assault and any specific day, month, or even year. That would make any investigation all but impossible. An “anonymous witness” without those specifics wouldn’t improve matters, and even with more specifics in a separate allegation, there might not be much for detectives to do in the local jurisdiction after 35+ years.
Speaking of which, it’s not even clear whether MCPD would have jurisdiction for the investigation:
One issue police will have to determine is whether the alleged assault described by Ford occurred in Chevy Chase, Maryland or in Washington D.C. “If it is in D.C. we would not have jurisdiction,” Manger said.
That assumes someone files a complaint. Thus far, it appears no one has.