Brett Kavanaugh Once Praised Polygraph Tests, Despite Republicans Now Using Them to Question Christine Blasey Ford

Prior to testifying before the Senate Judiciary Committee, Christine Blasey Ford took a polygraph test about her allegations that Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh sexually assaulted her in high school. The test showed that the probability of deception was less than 0.02.

The polygraph test became a focus point of her testimony in front of the senators on Thursday, many of which questioned the science of the forensic test and its legitimacy.

When asked why she chose to take the test, Ford said that she was asked by many attorneys if she would be willing to do a polygraph and she replied “absolutely.”

“That said it was almost as anxiety provoking as an airplane flight,” she added, referencing her fear of flying. She had never taken a polygraph test before.

Senator Amy Klobuchar asked for the test results to be entered into the record. Ford’s attorney then stepped in, saying that they had requested the polygraph examiner be present at the testimony on Thursday, but Grassley had denied the proposal. 

Before Ford's testimony, Grassley said that he questioned the "reliability" of her polygraph test. According to correspondence obtained by Politico on Wednesday, the senator sought "all audio and video recordings" and data from the test. In his letter to Ford's attorneys, the senator wrote that the information was needed to "assess the reliability" of the test results.

Had the polygraph examiner been able to testify, all of his records supporting his examination would have been provided, Ford’s attorney explained during the testimony on Thursday.

Klobuchar then tweeted during the hearing: “To quote a judge: ‘law enforcement agencies use polygraphs to test the credibility of witnesses’ & the tests ‘serve law enforcement purposes.’ That judge was Brett Kavanaugh in 2016 case.”

 

In 2016, Kavanaugh wrote in an opinion for a unanimous three-judge panel of his court that polygraphs were an important “law enforcement tool.” He then ruled that the Department of Defense was able to withhold reports concerning the effectiveness of polygraph tests in response to request under the Freedom of Information Act.

“The government has satisfactorily explained how polygraph examinations serve law enforcement purposes. It has also explained how the reports assessing the efficacy of those examinations and identifying needed fixes likewise serve law enforcement purposes. Put simply, the reports help ensure that law enforcement officers optimally use an important law enforcement tool,” Kavanaugh wrote at the time.

RTS233UM Christine Blasey Ford is sworn in to testify at a Senate Judiciary Committee hearing about her sexual assault allegations against Supreme Court nominee Judge Brett M. Kavanaugh, on Capitol Hill, on September 27. Ford’s polygraph test became a point of debate during her testimony. Erin Schaff/Reuters

Republican-hired attorney Rachel Mitchell pressed Ford on the polygraph, asking when and where the test took place. Mitchell asked why the test was not conducted in the examiner’s office in Virginia but instead in a hotel next to the airport in Baltimore, Maryland.

Ford answered that she had left her grandmother’s funeral and was on a tight schedule to fly to New Hampshire, and the examiner was willing to meet her at the hotel.

“So he administered a polygraph on the day that you attended your grandmother’s funeral,” Mitchell asked.

“Yes, correct,” Ford replied.

Join the Discussion