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Ed Whelan takes leave of absence from Ethics and Public Policy Center following Kavanaugh tweets

Ed Whelan is taking a leave of absence from his position as president of the Ethics and Public Policy Center, after tweeting a controversial theory about the accusations against Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh. (Image source: YouTube screenshot)

Ed Whelan "will take a leave of absence" from his role as president of the Ethics and Public Policy Center, a Washington, D.C., think tank, the organization announced Sunday.

EPPC's board is set to reconvene in a month while it reviews the situation surrounding a series of tweets by Whelan last week. In the Twitter thread, Whelan alleged that Christine Blasey Ford, who has accused Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh of sexual assault, had mistaken Kavanaugh for someone else during the alleged attack.

What happened?

In the tweets, which Whelan has since deleted, he first promised, "By one week from today, I expect that Judge Kavanaugh will have been clearly vindicated in this matter. Specifically, I expect that compelling evidence will show his categorical denial to be truthful."

He then followed up by tweeting, "Okay, I'll begin laying out some information concerning Christine Blasey Ford's allegations against Judge Kavanaugh."

Whelan went on to post floor plans of a house that corresponds to descriptions Ford gave of the night of the alleged attack. Whelan said it might have been the location where Kavanaugh reportedly assaulted her during a party 35 years ago.

Whelan also tweeted the name and photo of one of Kavanaugh's high school classmates — posting side-by-side photos of the two to show their resemblance — while alleging that the man was a possible suspect and that Ford has mistakenly recalled Kavanaugh as the perpetrator.

He concluded, "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 [Kavanaugh's classmate] or anyone else committed the sexual assault that Ford alleges."

What are others saying?

In response to the tweets, Daily Wire editor Ben Shapiro summed up the reaction of many others when he posted simply, "Dude what are you doing?"

Rod Dreher of The American Conservative wrote in a piece titled, "Ed Whelan's Crackpot Theory," that "It is inconceivable that this Whelan defense will help Kavanaugh in any way. In fact, it's so nasty and desperate-seeming that it taints Kavanaugh, despite the fact that he might have had nothing to do with it."

Dreher went on to echo the sentiments of other critics who slammed Whelan for posting the "poor man's name and photos," referring to Kavanaugh's classmate.

Ford issued a statement responding to Whelan's theory to the Washington Post, saying, "I knew them both, and socialized with [the other classmate]. ... There is zero chance that I would confuse them."

What's with the leave of absence?

In a statement released Sunday, EPPC's board of directors said:

The board of the Ethics and Public Policy Center convened a special telephonic meeting on Friday, September 21, 2018. After the meeting, Edward Whelan, who has led EPPC with integrity and excellence for many years, offered his resignation in light of what he described as an 'appalling and inexcusable' error in posting online a series of comments that he has now deleted and for which he promptly apologized.

After deliberation, the board declined to accept Mr. Whelan's resignation, but determined that he will take a leave of absence from the organization during which time Yuval Levin, EPPC's Vice President and Hertog Fellow, will be in charge. The board will meet in a month to review the situation.

What did Whelan say?

Whelan also released a statement on Sunday, saying:

I apologize deeply and sincerely to all those whom I have harmed by my appalling and inexcusable tweet thread last week — above all, the person whose name I wrongly made public.

I also apologize to the victims of sexual assault and to Dr. Ford for these and other tweets that did not address with respectful consideration the difficult question of how to assess allegations of sexual assault.

I do not believe that all such allegations must be accepted as true, and I believe further that the usual inquiries into motivation, cognition, memory and other matters that apply to other charges properly apply to these as well. But my tweets did not advance the discussion in a constructive way.

One last thing…
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