Jay Bookman

Opinion columnist and blogger with The Atlanta Journal-Constitution, specializing in foreign relations, environmental and technology-related issues

Opinion: Please, please give us facts


I have no idea whether the horrific allegations involving Judge Brett Kavanaugh are true. I very much hope that they are not.

However, the charges are grave, and a woman named Julie Swetnick has now come forward to swear, under oath and under possible penalty of perjury, that during the early ‘80s she witnessed Kavanaugh repeatedly drink excessively, refuse to take “no” for an answer from girls, “pressing girls against him without their consent, ‘grinding’ against girls and attempting to remove or shift girls’ clothing to expose private body parts.” 

These statements would be consistent with those made previously by Christine Blasey Ford regarding her own interactions with Kavanaugh.

In her sworn affidavit, Swetnick goes on:

“I have reviewed Brett Kavanaugh’s recent claim on Fox News regarding his alleged innocence during his high school years and lack of sexual activity. This claim is absolutely false and a lie. I witnessed Brett Kavanaugh consistently engage in excessive drinking and inappropriate contact of a sexual nature with women during the early 1980s....

“I also witnessed efforts by Mark Judge, Brett Kavanaugh and others to cause girls to become inebriated and disoriented so they could then be ‘gang raped’ in a side room or bedroom by a “train” of numerous boys. I have a firm recollection of seeing boys lined up outside rooms at many of these parties waiting for their ‘turn’ with a girl inside the room. These boys included Mark Judge and Brett Kavanaugh...."

“In approximately 1982, I became the victim of one of these ‘gang’ or ‘train’ rapes where Mark Judge and Brett Kavanaugh were present.”

As I noted when these allegations were first announced in general form by attorney Michael Avenatti, it is or ought to be inconceivable for Senate Republicans to proceed with Kavanaugh’s confirmation without a full investigation by the FBI. Swetnick claims to have corroborating witnesses; they should be interviewed, as should Kavanaugh’s friend Mark Judge, who figures prominently in these allegations.

The role of the FBI would not be to reach a conclusion about the allegations against Kavanaugh -- as conservatives have correctly pointed out, that is not the FBI’s role. Its role is to gather testimony and documents, put witnesses on the record, attempt to reconcile contradictions and provide the Senate and the American people with the facts and statements that would inform a conclusion. 

In response to today’s news, President Trump took to Twitter:


Avenatti is a divisive, combative figure who has entertained delusions about running for president. (No, no, not in a million years, no.) As an attorney, however, he has proved himself shrewd, disciplined and effective in high-profile cases, particularly in his representation of porn actress Stormy Daniels in her legal fight with Trump. And as much as Trump, Kavanaugh and even Avenatti himself might like it, he is not the issue.

At the moment, the immediate issue isn’t even whether Kavanaugh behaved as three women have now alleged, although the time for that discussion must come. The issue, right now, is whether their stories will be given a thorough, respectful hearing in an effort to get at the truth, or whether they will be brushed aside without serious consideration because it is deemed politically advantageous to do so. It would be disastrous for Republicans to push this through, only to discover after Kavanaugh was seated that some or all of this was true.

Nonetheless, Sen. Lindsey Graham and others are already attempting to dismiss and undermine Swetnick’s claim, as if to suggest that either she is to blame for the horrors she may have experienced as a teenage girl, or that she is basically making it up and exposing herself to a potential prison sentence, death threats and harassment just for the thrills.

That is deeply irresponsible and disrespectful not just to Swetnick, but to all who dare to step forward and seek justice.


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About the Author

Jay Bookman writes about government and politics, with an occasional foray into other aspects of life as time, space and opportunity allow.