Christine Blasey Ford’s Credibility Under New Attack by Senate Republicans – New York Times

WASHINGTON — Senate Republicans are stepping up efforts to challenge Christine Blasey Ford’s credibility by confronting her with a sworn statement from a former boyfriend who took issue with a number of assertions she made during testimony before the Judiciary Committee last week.

Senator Charles E. Grassley, Republican of Iowa and the committee chairman, cited the former boyfriend’s statement in a letter sent Tuesday night to Dr. Blasey’s lawyers demanding that they turn over material that could be used to assess her veracity.

President Trump mocked Dr. Blasey during a campaign rally on Tuesday night, mimicking her inability to remember some details from her account of being sexually assaulted by Judge Brett M. Kavanaugh when they were teenagers.

The former boyfriend told the Judiciary Committee that he witnessed Dr. Blasey helping a friend prepare for a possible polygraph examination, contradicting her testimony under oath. Dr. Blasey, a psychology professor from California who also goes by her married name Ford, was asked during the hearing whether she had “ever given tips or advice to somebody who was looking to take a polygraph test.” She answered, “Never.”

But the former boyfriend, whose name was redacted from a copy of the sworn statement provided by a person supporting Judge Kavanaugh’s confirmation to the Supreme Court, said that when they were together in the 1990s he saw Dr. Blasey use her understanding of psychology to assist her roommate of the time, Monica L. McLean, before interviews for possible positions with the F.B.I. or the United States Attorney’s office that might require her to take a lie-detector test.

“I witnessed Dr. Ford help McLean prepare for a potential polygraph exam,” the man said in the statement. “Dr. Ford explained in detail what to expect, how polygraphs worked and helped McLean become familiar and less nervous about the exam.”

Ms. McLean, a former F.B.I. agent, denied the assertion on Wednesday. “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 any time,” she said in a statement.

Dr. Blasey’s camp also rejected the account. “She stands by her testimony,” a member of her legal team said in a statement.

Although the man’s name and hometown were redacted from the copy of the statement, which was dated Tuesday, a person informed about the matter identified him as Brian Merrick. A profile of Dr. Blasey in The Wall Street Journal last month said she met Mr. Merrick while pursuing a master’s degree at Pepperdine University. She was “sweet, cute and with a good attitude,” he told the newspaper.

He added that she never told him about a violent encounter with Judge Kavanaugh. “It strikes me as odd it never came up in our relationship,” Mr. Merrick told the newspaper. “But I would never try to discredit what she says or what she believes.”

Still, Rachel Mitchell, the Arizona sex crimes prosecutor who questioned Dr. Blasey at last week’s hearing, seemed to know to ask her about whether she had ever advised anyone about taking a polygraph test.

In his letter on Tuesday night, Mr. Grassley confronted Dr. Blasey’s lawyers about the contradiction between Mr. Merrick’s statement and her testimony. “This statement raises specific concerns about the reliability of her polygraph examination results,” he wrote, requesting her lawyers turn over any audio or video recordings of the polygraph that Dr. Blasey took about her allegation against Judge Kavanaugh in August. “The Senate therefore needs this information.”

Dr. Blasey, 51, who has positions at Stanford University and Palo Alto University, told the committee last week that during a small house party probably in the summer of 1982, a drunken Mr. Kavanaugh pinned her to a bed, groped her, tried to remove her clothing and covered her mouth when she tried to scream. He would have been 17 at the time and she would have been 15. He has adamantly denied her account.

Ms. McLean joined a group of classmates from Holton-Arms School, the all-girls academy in suburban Maryland that Dr. Blasey attended at the time of the alleged incident, in coming out in support of her in a letter to the committee last month.

The letter said that the classmates wanted “to attest to her honesty, integrity, and intelligence; and to contend that her decision to provide information pertaining to a sexual assault is not a partisan act. It is an act of civic duty and the experience she described in her letter needs to be seriously considered.”

In his statement, Mr. Merrick said that he first met Dr. Blasey in 1989 or 1990 in California and after a period of friendship they dated from 1992 to 1998. “I found her truthful and maintain no animus toward her,” he wrote.

But he did not corroborate her account of an assault by Judge Kavanaugh and challenged other elements of her testimony. “During our time dating, Dr. Ford never brought up anything regarding her experience as a victim of sexual assault, harassment, or misconduct,” he wrote. “Dr. Ford never mentioned Brett Kavanaugh.”

Dr. Blasey has already said that she did not tell anyone about the experience until discussing it with the man who is now her husband in 2002 and later talking about it in more detail with a therapist in 2012. Many victims of sexual assault do not bring up their experiences for years after the events.

[Why women can take years to reveal sexual assault allegations.]

Mr. Merrick took issue with Dr. Blasey’s professed fear of flying and of confined spaces, noting that they once traveled around the Hawaiian islands in a propeller plane. “Dr. Ford never indicated a fear of flying,” he wrote. “To the best of my recollection Dr. Ford never expressed a fear of closed quarters, tight spaces, or places with only one exit.”

While she testified that she once insisted on building a second front door in her house because of the trauma of her encounter with Judge Kavanaugh, Mr. Merrick said he helped her find a place to live in California “in a very small, 500 sq. ft. house with one door.”

He also wrote that they broke up “once I discovered that Dr. Ford was unfaithful” and that she continued to use a credit card they shared nearly a year before he took her off the account. “When confronted, Dr. Ford said she did not use the card, but later admitted to the use after I threatened to involve fraud protection,” he said.

In his letter to Dr. Blasey’s lawyers, Mr. Grassley also demanded copies of notes taken by her therapist, portions of which The Washington Post reported that she had provided one of its reporters. And he asked for any other records of her communications with the Post reporter who first interviewed her. “Your failure to provide the entirety of Dr. Ford’s correspondence with The Post again suggests a lack of candor,” he wrote.

Follow Peter Baker on Twitter: @peterbakernyt.

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