[Rushtalk] My sinister battle with Brett Kavanaugh

Carl Spitzer cwsiv at juno.com
Wed Oct 3 09:25:11 MDT 2018


If even a smiggen of this is true Trump has been badly deceived and so
have we.
Forget the source look at the argument its damming.

Source: The Telegraph
URL Source: https://www.yahoo.com/news/sinister-battle-brett-kavanaugh-o
ver-202425923.html
Published: Oct 3, 2018
Author: Ambrose Evans-Pritchard


Ambrose Evans-Pritchard is International Business Editor of The Daily
Telegraph. He has covered world politics and economics for 30 years,
based in Europe, the US, and Latin America. He joined the Telegraph in
1991, serving as Washington correspondent and later Europe correspondent
in Brussels.

Twenty-three years ago I crossed swords with a younger Brett Kavanaugh
in one of the weirdest and most disturbing episodes of my career as a
journalist.

What happened leaves me in no doubt that he lacks judicial character and
is unfit to serve on the US Supreme Court for the next thirty years or
more, whatever his political ideology.

He was not a teenager. It related to his duties in the mid-1990s as
Assistant Independent Council for the Starr investigation, then probing
Bill and Hillary Clinton in the most sensitive case in the country.

Brett Kavanaugh sits behind Kenneth Starr during his testimony before
the House Judiciary Committee regarding the possible impeachment of
President Bill Clinton in 1998 Credit: David Hume Kennerly/Getty Images

To my surprise, the incident has suddenly become a second front in his
nomination saga on Capitol Hill. Senator Dianne Feinstein, the top
Democrat on the Senate Judiciary Committee, has accused him of violating
secrecy laws by revealing the details of a federal grand jury.

"Disclosing grand jury information is against the law," she told
Politico. She said it also showed he had misled the Senate by assuring
categorically that he had never leaked grand jury material to
journalists.

Sen Feinstein released a 'smoking gun' document from the archive files
of the Starr investigation. It shows Mr Kavanaugh's efforts to suppress
a news story about his wild cross-examination of a witness, including a
wayward discussion of "genitalia" that particularly worried him.

This piqued my interest since I am named in the document and the witness
– Patrick Knowlton – was in a sense 'my witness'.

Sen Feinstein is doubtless unaware of the larger, surreal story behind
that week, and what it might suggest about rogue operations at the heart
of the US federal system.

Brett Kavanaugh shakes hands with President Bill Clinton on board Air
Force One Source: White House

The document is one of hundreds of papers released by the US National
Archives this year. For me it has been a strange journey back in time,
like reading your old STASI file in East Berlin. There is one
handwritten note by a Starr prosecutor stating – obliquely – "Ambrose
about to go off the deep end". OK, nobody is perfect.

There were debriefing memos of clandestine meetings I had with federal
agents and prosecutors. One from Shoney's restaurant in Little Rock,
Arkansas; another from a dinner at the Occidental Grill in Washington
(my old haunt).

Mr Knowlton had been called to the grand jury because of a story in the
Telegraph. Little did I know then that I was about to turn this brave
man's life upside down.

He was a crime scene witness in the death of Vincent Foster, the White
House aide and ex-law partner of Hillary Clinton. At the time this was a
mystery case, a big story during my tenure as the Sunday Telegraph's
bureau chief in Washington.

I had tracked down Mr Knowlton and discovered that the Starr probe had
never spoken to him, even though he had been the first person at the
Fort Marcy death location and had highly-relevant information.

I showed him his FBI '302' witness statement from the earlier,
superficial Fiske probe. He had never seen the words attributed to him
before.

Mr Knowlton was stunned. It contradicted his express assertions. He said
the FBI had tried repeatedly to badger him into changing his story on
key facts. Each time he refused. Now it appeared they had written in
what they wanted to hear. He agreed to go public and accused the FBI of
falsifying his witness statement. This was to court trouble.

Key witness Patrick Knowlton

As soon as the print edition of the Telegraph reached Washington, the
Starr investigation issued a subpoena calling Mr Knowlton to the grand
jury. He was to face questioning by Brett Kavanaugh.

Mr Kavanaugh was then a cocky 30 year-old from the affluent WASP suburbs
of Northwest Washington, very much the country club boy with a high
sense of his status, and Georgetown Prep and Yale Law School behind him,
though only with a humdrum Cum Laude. If anybody was going to wind up my
hard-scrabble, salt-of-America witness, it was this child of privilege.

What happened first was an eye-opener. Before testifying, he suffered
two days of what appeared to be systematic intimidation by a large
surveillance team. This was observed by two other witnesses, including
Chris Ruddy, now the powerful chief executive of NewsMax.

Mr Ruddy called me in shock from Dupont Circle to recount what he saw. A
deeply-shaken Mr Knowlton contacted me from his home several times,
until his phone was cut off.

Mr Kavanaugh, as aide to Independent Counsel Kenneth Starr, during a
meeting in the Office of the Solicitor General in November 1996 Source:
David Hume Kennerly/Getty Images

Veteran intelligence agents might recognise a method. It had the
hallmarks of a boilerplate softening-up operation. In my view –
unprovable – the objective was to frighten him before his grand jury
appearance. It smacked of police state behaviour on the streets of
Washington DC.

I informed Mr Starr's office that their grand jury witness was being
intimidated. So did Mr Knowlton's lawyer, who asked for witness
protection. Nothing was done. Mr Kavanaugh brushed it off, saying the
Telegraph was behind all this mischief in order to "sell newspapers".

When Mr Knowlton appeared at the grand jury – thinking he was doing his
civic duty – he says he was subjected to two and a half hours of
character assassination by Mr Kavanaugh. There was little attempt to
find out what he knew about the Foster death scene.

Could it be that the witness was distraught and imagined much of this?
Possibly. But Mr Knowlton and his lawyer later filed a federal lawsuit
against FBI agents he claimed were working for Brett Kavanaugh, alleging
witness tampering and a conspiracy to violate his civil rights. This
eventually reached the US District Court in Washington DC. The quixotic
case was impossible to prove. Yet it was the action of a man who clearly
felt wronged. To this day he blames Mr Kavanaugh personally.

Thousands of documents from the Starr probe are still secret. Others are
redacted. It is impossible to know whether Mr Kavanaugh was linked to
any intimidation or obstruction of justice, but there is no doubt in my
mind that he failed to protect the rights of his own grand jury witness.

This is not the place to revisit the Foster case, the electric third
rail of US politics. But it is worth noting two points that touch on Mr
Kavanaugh.

Few people are aware that the US federal prosecutor handling the death
investigation at the outset, Miquel Rodriguez, had resigned earlier from
the Starr investigation after a bitter dispute.

His resignation letter – later leaked – said he was prevented from
pursuing investigative leads, that FBI witness statements did not
reflect what witnesses had said, that the suicide verdict was premature,
and that his grand jury probe was shut down just as he was beginning to
uncover evidence. An informed source told me his work had been sabotaged
by his own FBI agents.

US federal prosecutor Miquel Rodriguez

The nub of the dispute was over compelling evidence of a wound in
Foster's neck, which contradicted the official version that Foster shot
himself in the mouth and had essentially been suppressed. The key crime
scene photos had vanished and the FBI labs said others were over-exposed
and useless.

Mr Rodriguez, by then suspicious, slipped them to the Smithsonian
Institution and had them enhanced. One showed a black stippled ring like
a gunshot wound in the side of Foster's neck. This remains secret but I
have seen it.

The photo was pivotal. It confirmed what several people who handled the
body had originally stated. I interviewed the first rescue worker on the
scene and when I asked him about the mouth wound, he grabbed me, and
said with frightening intensity: "listen to me buddy, Foster was shot
right here," jabbing his finger into my neck. He said the FBI had
pressured him too into changing his story and that official narrative
was a pack of lies.

Mr Kavanaugh's reaction to the findings of his colleague can be found in
the stash of released documents from the Starr inquiry. One says in his
hand-written notes: "startling discovery", "blew up portions of photo –
trauma to the neck on rt side", "appears to be bullet hole".

He was presented with a long analysis by Rodriguez that ripped apart the
earlier Fiske report and called for an open homicide investigation. This
had huge implications for the Clinton presidency and caused an internal
crisis in the Starr office. A decision was made to shut down that part
of probe. Miquel Rodriguez said he was "forced out". It was the end of
the only genuine probe of the Foster death – conducted under oath – that
had ever occurred.

Mr Kavanaugh faced a choice. He chose to go with the establishment
rather than stick up for his colleague. This proved good for his career.
He took over the grand jury, by then a legacy showpiece. His treatment
of my witness revealed his colours.

Mr Kavanaugh went on to write the Starr Report on the Foster death. But
Mr Knowlton got the last word, literally. He filed a 511-page report at
the US Federal Court with evidence alleging a pattern of skullduggery,
and asked that it be attached to the Starr Report.

The three top judges did not agree but they ordered that a shorter
20-page version be attached at the end, despite vehement protest from
the Starr office. This had never happened before in the history of the
office of the independent council.

This summary asserts that the FBI had "concealed the true facts", that
there had been witness tampering, and that the report had wilfully
ignored facts that refuted its own conclusions. There it sits in
perpetuity, a strange rebuke for Mr Kavanaugh by his own fellow judges
on the federal bench.

Ambrose Evans-Pritchard was the Sunday Telegraph's Washington Bureau
Chief from 1992 to 1997 Read more by Ambrose Evans-Pritchard


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