The revelation that Christine Blasey Ford’s high school friend and onetime adult roommate, Monica McLean, happens to be a former FBI agent may have raised so few eyebrows because we’ve grown accustomed to finding the FBI lurking in the background of major news stories. First of two parts.
First of two parts.
The father of Parkland High School student David Hogg, the media’s go-to expert on gun control, is a retired special agent. The 2016 Pulse nightclub mass murderer’s father was a long-time FBI informant. In 2015, an FBI agent was photographing two ISIS-affiliated men just before an off-duty cop moonlighting as a security guard narrowly prevented them from turning a Garland, Texas “Draw Mohammed” contest into a massacre. Going back a bit further, it turned out that two of the 9/11 hijackers were actually rooming with an FBI informant.
The latter case, like the others involving Islamic terrorism, can be chalked up either to the agency’s bad luck or incompetence at preventing the attacks rather than to any sinister malfeasance on the part of its employees. David Hogg’s FBI connection, on the other hand, is surely just coincidental, and it’s natural to be inclined to say the same of Ford’s relationship to McLean. The FBI does, after all, employ over 35,000 people, so such coincidences are bound to happen.
Further, McLean, a high-school classmate of Ford’s who is also a lawyer, first became part of the story when an ex-boyfriend of Ford’s released a letter identifying her as Ford’s “life-long best friend”—a description neither woman has denied. He went on to claim that when he was dating Ford sometime in the 1990s, Ford coached her then-roommate on how to take a polygraph while McLean was looking for jobs with the FBI and the U.S. Attorney’s office.
So when the ex-federal agent’s name first appeared, there was no reason at all to suspect that she had any involvement in Ford’s present-day attempt to block Brett Kavanaugh’s nomination to the Supreme Court, (which, regardless of whether Ford is acting in good faith, is what she attempted) and, hence, no reason to think that McLean’s FBI background was in any way relevant.
Recently, however, we found out that Ford’s longtime close friend—who resigned in 2016 after 24 years with the Bureau—is involved in another part of the story. And this time, her role can’t be described as merely background or coincidental.
According to the Wall Street Journal, Leland Keyser, one of the four witnesses Ford named who has no memory of the events she claims happened who denies even knowing Brett Kavanaugh, told Senate investigators that McLean had pressured her into making her statement less unfavorable to Ford.
As much as some of Judge Kavanaugh’s supporters would like to suggest it, it’s very doubtful the actions described by the Wall Street Journal rise to the level of witness tampering. If the Journal’s report is accurate, however, it shows that McLean took an active present-day role in Ford’s effort to block Kavanaugh’s nomination.
Thanks to some top-notch sleuthing by someone calling himself Sundance at the website Conservative Treehouse, we now know more about McLean’s background that ought to raise plenty of eyebrows.
For example, in a 2009 press release, Monica McLean is identified as an FBI public information officer working alongside then-U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of New York, Preet Bharara.
If that name sounds familiar, it’s probably because Bharara raised a big stink last year after being fired by incoming Attorney General Jeff Sessions. Bharara implied corrupt motives were behind his dismissal, though there was nothing surprising or unusual about the move. New administrations commonly replace U.S. attorneys brought in by their predecessors. In fact, that’s how Bharara got the job from Barack Obama, after spending four years as chief counsel to Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.), the man who recommended him to the former president. If you’re wondering what Bharara has been doing since he lost his job, New York did a profile in October 2017 headlined, “Preet Bharara is now in the Trump-opposition business.”
Moreover, the FBI press release which tells us that McLean worked with this leading figure in the so-called resistance against President Trump, identifies one Jim Margolin as working alongside her in the public information office. Margolin’s LinkedIn page says that in 2013 he switched jobs and started working directly under Bharara as his chief public information officer. Unlike Monica McLean, Margolin didn’t resign when Trump took office, nor was he fired like Bharara. And, since the U.S. Attorney’s Southern District, New York office is prosecuting Trump’s onetime lawyer Michael Cohen, you’ll find Monica McLean’s ex-partner’s name in any number of stories explaining the details of Cohen’s legal travails.
So, if the relationship between Christine Blasey Ford and Monica McLean is mere coincidence, it runs much deeper than McLean’s past work for the FBI. The lifelong friend of the woman at the center of the Democrats’ attempt to block President Trump’s most recent Supreme Court pick spent years working closely with someone who was Chuck Schumer’s right-hand man until Barack Obama made him U.S. attorney in one of the nation’s most high-profile divisions and is now a leading figure in the “resistance” against Trump. During much of that time, Ford’s schoolmate and former adult roommate was partnered with another man who is now intimately involved in Independent Counsel Robert Mueller’s attempt to pressure Michael Cohen into providing him with something that can be used against the president.
Besides discovering links between McLean and some of Trump’s prominent enemies formerly and currently collecting a federal paycheck, Sundance turned up other evidence that strongly suggests, in addition to pressuring Leland Keyser to change her statement, McLean played yet another even more active role in Ford’s attempt to block Kavanaugh.
In her testimony to the Senate Judiciary Committee, Ford said that she flew to Rehoboth, Delaware on July 26, composing her famous letter to Senator Dianne Feinstein accusing Kavanaugh of sexual misconduct on July 30 while still there. It turns out that Rehoboth is McLean’s current hometown. Sundance used one of those people-finder websites to discover McLean’s domicile, and her page on the California Bar Association’s website tells the same story.
Sundance, however, is a little too quick to conclude that Ford and McLean were “together for the four days leading up to the actual writing of the letter.” In her testimony, Ford also said she was in Rehoboth on a yearly visit to her parents, who, according to the website Delaware Online, have a “vacation home they’ve owned in southern Delaware for at least 20 years.” So contrary to what the anonymous sleuth seems to be assuming, Ford’s traveling all the way to Rehoboth from her home in Palo Alto can be explained without supposing she was there to get McLean’s help in composing her crucial letter to Feinstein.
Though her parents’ Delaware vacation home amply explains Ford’s presence in Rehoboth, it doesn’t explain why she chose to write the pivotal letter describing her allegations against Kavanaugh there. And, there are good reasons to think that her dear friend Monica McLean’s proximity likely played a role in that decision.
Mr. and Mrs. Blasey’s Startling Lack of Support
Apart from pressuring Ford’s other high school friend, Leland Keyser, to amend her statement, Monica McLean also played another less active role in the story. She’s one of the 24 women from Ford’s high school graduating class who signed a letter supporting Ford. Keyser’s name, however, is absent from the letter, and it turns out that McLean also did more than Ford’s own immediate family were willing to do.
Ford’s parents have been surprisingly unsupportive of their daughter; and likewise, for her two brothers. None of Ford’s immediate family even signed the letter of support from “members of Christine Blasey Ford’s family” that the Senate Judiciary Committee received; indeed, no blood relatives’ names appear on it. Every single one of the 12 signatories is related to Ford only through her husband, Russell Ford. Moreover, the letter of support itself is so weak that it’s hard to understand what objections Ford’s biological kin could have had if they believed her accusations against Kavanaugh were made in good faith.
The first two paragraphs attribute various commendable character traits to Ford, and the next describes her professional competence. And, it’s only in the fourth paragraph that her husband’s blood relations say anything at all relevant to Ford’s allegations against Kavanaugh. In that final paragraph, they attest to her “honesty” being “above reproach,” and say they “believe that Chrissy has acted bravely in voicing her experiences from the past.”
In short, insofar as the letter gives any indication that its signers believe Kavanaugh to be guilty, it goes no further than the Republican members of the Senate Judiciary Committee did in their praise of Blasey Ford! So the unwillingness of Blasey Ford’s parents to sign a letter that Chuck Grassley and Lindsey Graham could have written indicates a significant lack of support, at the very least. Perhaps that’s why, in her testimony, Ford described making crucial decisions about how to proceed with her allegations against Kavanaugh while in Rehoboth, “sitting in the car in the driveway” (presumably of her parents’ home) and “in the Walgreens parking lot.”
Moreover, a couple days after Ford and Kavanaugh’s testimony, the Washington Post ran a story headlined, “Christine Blasey Ford’s family has been nearly silent amid outpouring of support,” in which they report having briefly by phone managed to contact her father. The expression of confidence in his daughter that the Post managed to squeeze out of the elder Blasey was so lukewarm that it inspired the following paragraph in New York Magazine:
It chilled me to read what her father, Ralph Blasey, wrung from himself to offer the Washington Post, in the conditional tense: “I think all of the Blasey family would support her. I think her record stands for itself. Her schooling, her jobs, and so on.” Then he hung up. A second call yielded this hypothetical: “I think any father would have love for his daughter.”
That same Washington Post story quotes Ford’s husband:
“She didn’t always get along with her parents because of differing political views,” Russell Ford said. “It was a very male-dominated environment. Everyone was interested in what’s going on with the men, and the women are sidelined, and she didn’t get the attention or respect she felt she deserved.”
But, while Russell Ford’s comment may explain his in-laws’ unwillingness to sign a letter of support that contained nothing that wasn’t echoed by the GOP members of the Senate Judiciary Committee and the extraordinarily ambivalent remarks her own father made to the Post, it goes no way towards explaining why his wife would choose to compose the pivotal letter to her California congresswoman on her trip to such an unsupportive environment; where it appears she felt compelled to make many crucial decisions from the confines of whoever’s car she was using.
So it would make a lot of sense if Ford only wrote the letter while visiting her parents because her old friend and roommate Monica McLean was in Rehoboth to help.
Indeed, even if Ford hadn’t been in McLean’s hometown when she composed the letter, it would still be strange if McLean didn’t give her some advice on it. Besides being a close friend since at least high school and their history as roommates, Monica McLean is, after all, also an attorney who worked as an FBI agent and spokesperson. Just as it would be odd if McLean didn’t consult her roommate’s psychological expertise a few decades back, when she was looking for jobs requiring a polygraph exam.
When we add that Ford chose to write the letter while visiting her unsupportive parents with whom, according to her husband, she has a troubled history, and that she also happened to be in McLean’s hometown, it becomes very hard to believe that McLean’s presence had nothing to do with her decision to write the pivotal letter while visiting Rehoboth.
Two Photos, One Woman
But there’s even more reason to think Monica McLean was involved in writing Ford’s letter. Sundance also managed to find a photo from an April 2016 Delaware Cape Gazette, in which someone identified as Monica McLean is pictured enjoying herself at a Rehoboth wine tasting. As you can see from the caption, she’s the woman to the far left with the large pink handbag.
And, besides providing further confirmation that McLean does indeed reside at her legal address in Rehoboth, the photograph, along with another unearthed by Sundance, also reveals yet another role McLean played in her best friend’s failed attempt to block Judge Kavanaugh’s nomination. For, someone who surely must be the very same woman pictured at the 2016 Rehoboth wine tasting can be seen literally lurking behind Christine Blasey Ford in the video of her testimony to the Senate Judiciary Committee. The image below is a screenshot of the 28-second mark of a C-SPAN video of the event.
Given that (i) McLean tried to get one of Ford’s witnesses to soften her damning testimony and (ii) accompanied Ford to the hearing; together with (iii) McLean’s investigative, legal, and public relations professional expertise and (iv) likely proximity to Ford while the crucial letter to Feinstein was being composed in (v) the home of parents with whom she has a troubled history and who supported her story even less than her enemies on the Senate Judiciary Committee, it beggars belief that her (vi) longtime close friend and onetime roommate, who an ex-boyfriend has described as her “lifelong best friend,” didn’t play yet another role in the story by helping Ford compose the crucial letter that ended up in Dianne Feinstein’s hands.
But, believe it or not, we aren’t quite finished. Blasey Ford’s testimony to the Senate Judiciary Committee suggests that Monica McLean played yet another very important and direct role. Moreover, McLean’s likely fourth role in Ford’s project also reveals further connections to highly-placed federal employees belonging to the anti-Trump “resistance,” some of whose names will be quite familiar.
Two Lawyers, One Party
In response to questioning from Rachel Mitchell, the prosecutor GOP members of the Judiciary Committee brought in, Ford testified that, during her stay in Rehoboth, “[v]arious people referred me to lawyers they knew in the Washington, D.C. area,” and that she wound up interviewing and retaining legal counsel while there.
And, of course, their longtime close friendship and McLean’s accompanying Ford to the Senate hearing alone make it overwhelmingly likely that Monica McLean was one of the friends who referred Ford to her attorney. But, since Ford was also in her friend’s hometown, it’s all but certain that she’s one of the people from whom Ford testified to getting recommendations. All the more so, since her family’s evident unwillingness to sign a letter of support that merely lauded her honesty and bravery, makes the utility of any advice they might have given doubtful.
Hence, in addition to signing the letter of support from her high school classmates, helping Ford write the crucial accusatory letter, and accompanying her to the hearing, it’s hard also not to believe that Monica McLean played a fourth role by referring Ford to her attorney.
Ford, however, was flanked by two Washington-based attorneys when she appeared before the Senate Judiciary committee, Debra Katz and Michael Bromwich. And, when Mitchell later asked if anyone else besides the previously mentioned folks in Rehoboth had recommended any lawyers, Ford responded that Dianne Feinstein’s office recommended Katz but, in response to further questioning, said they weren’t responsible for suggesting anyone else. This would imply that Bromwich was recommended by one of her previously mentioned advisors from Rehoboth. And, indeed, given Bromwich’s stature in Washington, someone with connections to an important political figure like Preet Bharara must have given Ford an introduction.
Bromwich has a very long history of working for the federal government in Democratic administrations and projects, going all the way back to the 1980s when he assisted Independent Counsel Lawrence Walsh in his investigation of the Reagan Administration’s involvement in the Iran-Contra affair. In fact, Bromwich was part of the three-person team that successfully prosecuted Oliver North, only to have his conviction overturned on appeal. The man destined to become Christine Blasey Ford’s lawyer later became the Justice Department’s Inspector General under Bill Clinton, and President Obama’s pick as the first director of his newly created Bureau of Ocean Energy Management.
Before joining Ford’s legal team, Bromwich worked for the anti-Trump resistance on the sidelines, as is amply demonstrated by his Twitter feed. In one post, he reprehensibly suggested that Rudy Giuliani’s criticism of Mueller arose from senility and, to reinforce his libel, posted a New York Times article with a picture of Giuliani that makes the ex-New York City mayor look like he got lost after wandering away from an assisted-living facility to attend the funeral of a friend who died 10 years ago.
Needless to say, no one calling on the phone gets to chat with an important man like Bromwich absent contacts in very high places. So some person must have referred Ford to him, and McLean’s years spent working alongside Preet Bharara, a big player himself, who was once Chuck Schumer’s right-hand man, could have provided the necessary opening. All the more so, given that Ford’s allegations had the potential to derail Trump’s bid to place Brett Kavanaugh on the Supreme Court.
Here it’s worth noting that along with Ford, Bromwich also represents that other would-be wrench in the Trump Administration’s machine, disgraced and fired former deputy director of the FBI, Andrew McCabe, whose name seems to pop up whenever some deep state plot against Trump is uncovered. Perhaps the fact that Bromwich was already representing McCabe was the reason his law firm asked him to resign when he added Ford to his legal purview, figuring that things were getting a little too obvious.
Of course, when she first appeared on the public stage as someone Ford may have once coached to pass a lie detector test, Monica McLean needed an attorney of her own, and she . . . well, we can’t say “hired” since there’s no reason to think she’s paying him, given that Ford isn’t paying Bromwich. So, let’s say that McLean acquired, David Laufman as her lawyer. And, though Laufman isn’t as well-known as Andrew McCabe, he is another entry in the long list of FBI agents and high-level Justice officials who’ve either resigned, retired, been demoted, or, like McCabe, fired since Trump moved into the White House. Laufman resigned from the Justice Department in February.
Moreover, Laufman’s relative anonymity when compared to McCabe looks like it might be undeserved. According to a source of Hugh Hewitt’s, Laufman’s position as, (take a deep breath if you’re reading aloud) chief of the counterintelligence and export control section in the National Security Division at the U.S. Department of Justice, means he “would have had a hand in the approval of” the FISA application to spy on Trump’s hapless campaign advisor, Carter Page.
And Hewitt’s source is supported by some of the infamous text messages between two other entries on the list of high-ranking federal employees who’ve had career trouble since Trump took office: onetime FBI lawyer Lisa Page and her married boyfriend, disgraced FBI counterespionage chief Peter Stzrok. The relevant text messages are discussed by independent journalist Sara Carter in an article headlined, “New Documents Show Obama Officials, FBI Coordinated in Anti-Trump Probe.” And, McLean’s lawyer, David Laufman, is one of the Obama officials to which the headline refers.
According to the Washington Post, Laufman’s decision to start seriously enforcing the Foreign Agents Registration Act (FARA), a 1938 law enacted to combat Nazi propaganda, also played an important role in the eventual prosecution of both Paul Manafort and General Michael Flynn. According to the Post, the Justice Department’s FARA unit, led by the man who would later become Monica McLean’s attorney, pushed Manafort belatedly to register his consulting work on behalf of a pro-Kremlin political party in Ukraine, resulting in two of the charges in Robert Mueller’s indictment: being an unregistered agent of a foreign principal and issuing false and misleading FARA statements.
General Flynn avoided an indictment by accepting a plea agreement from Mueller, but the special counsel wrote in a court filing that Flynn had “made materially false statements and omissions” in his FARA registration. And, independent journalist Mike Cernovich claims that sources in the FBI told him that the man who Monica McLean managed to snag as her lawyer was responsible for leaking information about Flynn to the press.
But it gets better. Laufman also ran the investigation into Hillary’s Clinton’s private email server. Indeed, Laufman even interviewed Clinton herself together with, wait for it, Peter Stzrok! And, the two also teamed up to interview Cheryl Mills, Huma Abedin, and even two other lesser-known Clinton aides.
And, for some reason, most media accounts of Laufman’s resignation fail to mention that it occurred exactly one day after the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee issued a less than flattering report on the investigation of Clinton’s private email server he led. The committee concluded that “a number of actions by high-level FBI officials have legitimately called . . . into question” the FBI’s “integrity and impartiality.”
Though Laufman isn’t nearly as well-known as McCabe, Stzrok, Page, or Bruce Ohr, it seems like maybe he should be. Monica McLean’s attorney was a busy man when he worked for the Justice Department and seems to have played a prominent role in the failed efforts to make sure Hillary Clinton and not Donald Trump succeeded Barack Obama in the White House. And, Christine Ford’s good friend Monica McLean must be even more well connected than her time working with Preet Bharara suggests to even get a few minutes of Laufman’s time, let alone to score such a huge player as her legal counsel.
Among the many puzzles emerging from Christine Blasey Ford’s testimony to the Senate Judiciary Committee is how she could have had the presence of mind to take all the necessary steps in her quest to stop Kavanaugh from taking a seat on the Supreme Court. Ford seemed sincerely ignorant of even the most basic details about her relationship to her lawyers and claimed to not even realize the obvious necessity of obtaining legal counsel until others pointed it out. For example, it’s impossible to imagine the woman we saw testifying, who claims she couldn’t figure out how to contact the Senate, having the presence of mind to scrub her high school yearbook and social media profile from the internet before going public with her accusations. Yet someone did, just as someone must have arranged and kept track of her relations to her legal counsel.
Unless she was putting on a virtuoso performance, “Chrissy,” as her husband’s relatives call her in their letter of support, must have had someone who arranged all the necessary details. She must have had what I believe her ex-FBI agent and longtime close friend, Monica McLean would call a “handler.”
Unless Christine Blasey Ford is a phenomenal actress, she would have needed one even if her accusations against Kavanaugh were made in good faith. But, despite the Republican members of the Judiciary Committee’s attempt to walk the fine line of believing Kavanaugh and Ford are both victims, the idea is preposterous. One of them must be lying, and a careful look at her testimony shows that it’s obviously Christine Blasey Ford.
Photo credit: Michael Reynolds-Pool/Getty Images