Christine Blasey Ford is adamantly denying a prominent Brett Kavanaugh ally’s Twitter implication that Ford might be confusing Kavanaugh with a former high school classmate who looks like him.
The bizarre, purely speculative theory of a supposed Brett Kavanaugh mistaken identity went viral on Twitter after Ed Whelan, a prominent blogger, think tank president, and former general counsel to the U.S. Senate Judiciary Committee, named the other man, who went to Georgetown Prep high school with Kavanaugh, in a series of tweets that backed the theory up with only floor plans and sheer conjecture.
It wasn’t long before Blasey Ford’s lawyer released a statement to NBC News, after the Whelan tweets started to go viral, denying that she could be mistaken or confusing Kavanaugh with the other man. That man is a social studies teacher at a middle school in another state and has not made any public comment on the fact his name is now all over Twitter linked to one of the most controversial stories of the year simply because he went to high school with a guy he kind of looks like and lived in the area. Some people said on Twitter that dragging the man, a private citizen, into the debate was extremely wrong and had brought the Kavanaugh nomination process to a new low.
Whelan later apologized on Twitter, writing, “I made an appalling and inexcusable mistake of judgment in posting the tweet thread in a way that identified Kavanaugh’s Georgetown Prep classmate. I take full responsibility for that mistake, and I deeply apologize for it. I realize that does not undo the mistake.” The Washington Post reported that Ford has evidence Whelan looked at her LinkedIn page before she went public; Whelan told the Post that he had not communicated with Kavanaugh or anyone at the White House about the Twitter thread’s topic.
The Washington Post wrote, “Republicans on Capitol Hill and White House officials immediately sought to distance themselves from Whelan’s claims and said they were not aware of his plans to identify the former classmate, now a middle school teacher, who could not be reached for comment and did not answer the door at his house Thursday night.”
Here’s what you need to know:
Christine Blasey Ford Says There Is ‘Zero Chance’ She Would Confuse Kavanaugh With the Man
NBC News correspondent Peter Alexander tweeted on September 20, 2018, “Dr. Ford dismisses mistaken identity theory: ‘I knew them both, and socialized with (name redacted by Heavy). I even visited (name redacted by Heavy) when he was in the hospital. There is zero chance that I would confuse them.” The tweet named the high school classmate in question.
Heavy is not naming the man because he is a private citizen who doesn’t deserve to have his name thrust into one of the most intensely controversial stories of the year, although other news outlets have tweeted out his name as part of Blasey Ford’s mistaken identity denial or shared Whelan’s original tweet thread that contained the man’s name. Some conservative publications published stories or tweets that contained photos of Kavanaugh and the man side-by-side from their Georgetown Prep yearbook to show their resemblance. Ed Whelan’s tweet thread also contained a current photo from the man’s Facebook page and floor plans of the house where Whelan said he lived in high school.
Ed Whelan’s tweets promised vindication for Brett Kavanaugh. “Bottom line: I believe that a fair assessment of this evidence powerfully supports Judge Kavanaugh’s categorical denial,” Whelan wrote, detailing a theory that critics have called a reckless conspiracy theory.
Whelan, after detailing his theory, including the man’s name, did write, “To be clear, I have no idea what, if anything, did or did not happen in that bedroom at the top of the stairs, and I therefore do not state, imply or insinuate that (name redacted by Heavy) or anyone else committed the sexual assault that Ford alleges.”
One person wrote that if the man Whelan named in his speculative theory “isn’t on the phone with a lawyer right at this very second, he’s a fool…” echoing the sentiments of others who wrote that the man should sue.
The theory was mentioned on Fox and Friends:
Maggie Haberman of The New York Times retweeted a tweet that passed on Whelan’s tweet thread (a Whelan thread that named the man), herself writing, “Pushing into public view what Kavanaugh supporters had privately suggested could be a case of mistaken identity,” and causing some to also criticize her for sharing the information. “unbelievably irresponsible to be sharing this. said as an admirer of your work. delete this nonsense. please,” wrote one Twitter user to Haberman. Brit Hume, of Fox News, also shared Whelan’s thread on Twitter, writing, “There is a person named in this speculative theory. Utterly improper to name that person.”
Ed Whelan Has Been Friends With Brett Kavanaugh for Decades, Reports Say
Ed Whelan and Brett Kavanaugh go way back, which is perhaps not surprising considering the number of years both men have spent in conservative and government legal circles in Washington D.C. Politico reports that Ed Whelan and Brett Kavanaugh have a “decades-long friendship,” adding that Whelan also has “close involvement with the nomination process,” leading people close to Kavanaugh to pay attention to Whelan.
Whelan “has worked alongside Federalist Society executive director Leonard Leo advising the White House on judicial nominations,” Politico reported.
However, some conservatives have questioned Whelan’s theories. For example, writer Ben Shapiro tweeted that if Whelan “doesn’t have anything but Zillow links and Google maps…he’s going to end up in court for defaming a private figure.” Republican Senator Orrin Hatch of Utah had previously questioned whether Christine Ford might be “mixed up” and confusing Kavanaugh for someone else
Haberman later retweeted a tweet from CNN’s Jake Tapper, who wrote, “A prominent DC conservative, trying to promote an alternate theory that someone else (and not Kavanaugh) may have sexually assaulted Professor Ford, named that person, showed photographs suggesting Ford confused the two and more. This is stunningly irresponsible.” Haberman indicated she had deleted her own tweet, saying, “Deleting tweets of my own that included his thread for that reason. This is something Kavanaugh allies had privately said could be the case for days but doing it this way, as an apparent reaction to Ford likely testifying, suggests a level of panic.”
Ed Whelan also wrote on Twitter, “By one week from today, I expect that Judge Kavanaugh will have been clearly vindicated on this matter. Specifically, I expect that compelling evidence will show his categorical denial to be truthful. There will be no cloud over him.”
According to Politico, “his tweet, along with the perception that he is a sober-minded straight shooter, triggered intense speculation among conservatives and even White House aides about whether he had information that could acquit Kavanaugh.”
Whelan has written many commentaries supporting Kavanaugh’s nomination to the U.S. Supreme Court. The think tank where Whelan works has a page that announces, “EPPC President Ed Whelan is offering running commentary in support of the confirmation of Judge Brett Kavanaugh to replace retiring Justice Anthony Kennedy on the U.S. Supreme Court.”
In July 2018, Whelan wrote, “Congratulations to President Trump on his decision to nominate D.C. Circuit judge Brett M. Kavanaugh to the Supreme Court. I very much look forward to Justice Kavanaugh. Judge Kavanaugh, 53 years old, has compiled an outstanding record during his twelve years on the federal court of appeals in D.C. On what is commonly regarded as the second-most-important court in the country, he has confronted a vast array of consequential constitutional and statutory issues and has written strong, influential opinions.”
It’s not the first time that Whelan’s online tactics have caused controversy. In 2009, Whelan apologized for identifying an anonymous blogger.
Edward Whelan once served as a law clerk for former conservative Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia.
Ed Whelan is the president of the Ethics and Public Policy Center. “He directs EPPC’s program on The Constitution, the Courts, and the Culture. His areas of expertise include constitutional law and the judicial confirmation process,” Whelan’s bio at the center’s website reads.
The about me section for the EPPC describes it as follows:
Founded in 1976 by Dr. Ernest W. Lefever, the Ethics and Public Policy Center is Washington, D.C.’s premier institute dedicated to applying the Judeo-Christian moral tradition to critical issues of public policy. From the Cold War to the war on terrorism, from disputes over the role of religion in public life to battles over the nature of the family, EPPC and its scholars have consistently sought to defend and promote our nation’s founding principles—respect for the inherent dignity of the human person, individual freedom and responsibility, justice, the rule of law, and limited government.
According to his bio, Whelan “has served in positions of responsibility in all three branches of the federal government. From just before the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001, until joining EPPC in 2004, Mr. Whelan was the Principal Deputy Assistant Attorney General for the Office of Legal Counsel in the U.S. Department of Justice.”
The bio says he “advised the White House Counsel’s Office, the Attorney General and other senior DOJ officials, and departments and agencies throughout the executive branch on difficult and sensitive legal questions. Mr. Whelan previously served on Capitol Hill as General Counsel to the U.S. Senate Committee on the Judiciary.”
According to his bio, Whelan has blogged on legal issues for National Review, a conservative news outlet. On Twitter, Whelan describes himself as, “President, Ethics and Public Policy Center; blogger on NRO’s Bench Memos; recovering lawyer; Nats and Caps fan; co-editor of SCALIA SPEAKS.”