Conservative activist Ed Whelan apologizes for insinuating a Kavanaugh doppelgänger assaulted Ford
On Friday morning, conservative activist Ed Whelan shared the following tweet apologizing for the tweets he posted on Thursday evening questioning Christine Blasey Ford’s allegation of sexual assault against Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh, saying, “I made an appalling and inexcusable mistake of judgment.”
But on Thursday evening, Whelan, seeemed to truly believe he had found the real person who assaulted , Christine Blasey Ford in 1982. And suggested it wasn’t Brett Kavanaugh.
Whelan, an attorney and president of the conservative Ethics and Public Policy Center set Twitter on fire by arguing in favor of Supreme Court nominee Kavanaugh’s innocence against Ford’s accusation that he sexually assaulted her and he also accused someone else of being the culprit — by name, home address, floor plan, and yearbook photo.
Ford herself responded to Whelan’s tweet thread in a statement, saying, “I knew them both,” and added she visited the other classmate in the hospital. “There is zero chance that I would confuse them,” she told the Washington Post.
Whelan has become one of Kavanaugh’s most prominent defenders. He became friends with Kavanaugh when Whelan served as principal deputy in the Justice Department’s Office of Legal Counsel and Kavanaugh was working in the White House counsel’s office during the George W. Bush administration, Vox reported.
On Tuesday, Whelan tweeted a promise: “By one week from today, I expect that Judge Kavanaugh will have been clearly vindicated on this matter. ... There will be no cloud over him.” He added in another tweet: “Senator Feinstein will soon be apologizing to Judge Kavanaugh.”
The tweets caused a stir, particularly among conservatives, and even reached the White House. According to Politico, Whelan was so sure of his ability to prove Kavanaugh’s innocence that he “told at least three associates that his confidence level in his assertions is “close to 100 percent.”
But then came the Twitter thread that Whelan shared on Thursday evening. In short, using a map of homes surrounding the Columbia Country Club (near where both Ford and Kavanaugh attended high school) and floor maps available on the real estate website Zillow, Whelan argued that based on Ford’s statements of what happened that night back in 1982, the perpetrator was likely not Kavanaugh. Instead, he pointed to a classmate of Kavanaugh’s at Georgetown Prep who, in Whelan’s view, looked a lot like Kavanaugh.
In doing so, he shared the address and room layout of the classmate’s childhood home, photographs of the classmate, and the classmate’s full name. I reached out to the classmate — he is not involved in politics and signed a letter in support of Kavanaugh’s nomination in July. I will update if and when he responds. The Washington Post also reached out to the classmate, even visiting his home.
Whelan’s tweetstorm (which he has since deleted) was the rare set of missives that veered so close to defamation it included, at its end, a tweet specifically meant to protect Whelan from charges of defamation by suggesting Whelan was not saying what he was obviously, clearly, saying.
The response to the unsubstantiated assertions was immediate, as journalists and legal observers decried Whelan for committing what some were calling defamation, and many of Whelan’s conservative allies who had been awaiting the information Whelan promised to reveal backed away from his accusation.
A conservative writer told me that though the tweetstorm might not result in legal action, “its legality doesn’t make it proper. A private citizen simply shouldn’t be identified under those circumstances.”
CNN’s Jake Tapper and the New York Times’s Maggie Haberman both deleted tweets sharing the thread and apologized for doing so. Tapper then called Whelan’s tweets “stunningly irresponsible”, Vox reported.
Culled from Vox