Ed Whelan, the influential legal commenter who runs the Ethics & Public Policy Center, blew up Twitter tonight with a bizarre series of tweets naming a high school classmate of Brett Kavanaugh’s as the potential attacker of Christine Ford. I’m not going to link to any of them, because they included the poor man’s name and photos of him. The Washington Post summarizes the thing:

Ed Whelan, a former clerk to the late justice Antonin Scalia and president of the Ethics and Public Policy Center, pointed to floor plans, online photographs and other information to suggest a location for the house party in suburban Maryland that Ford described. He also named and posted photographs of the classmate he suggested could be responsible.

Ford dismissed Whelan’s theory in a statement late Thursday: “I knew them both, and socialized with” them, Ford said, adding that she had once visited the other classmate in the hospital. “There is zero chance that I would confuse them.”

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.

Whelan did not respond to requests for comment. He had told people around him that he had spent several days putting together the theory and thought it was more convincing than her story, according to two friends who had talked to him.

Whelan has been involved in helping to advise Kavanaugh’s confirmation effort and is close friends with both Kavanaugh and Leonard Leo, the head of the Federalist Society who has been helping to spearhead the nomination.

Kavanaugh and his allies have been privately discussing a defense that would not question whether an incident involving Ford happened, but instead would raise doubts that the attacker was Kavanaugh, according to a person familiar with the discussions.

You have to read the thread to grasp just how weird it is. It would be merely strange if it weren’t for the fact that Whelan has probably ruined a man’s life. I will be shocked if Whelan is not sued for defamation, even though he puts a line in saying that he’s not accusing the man of attacking Kavanaugh.

Tom Nichols is right:

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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 that fact that he might have had nothing to do with it.

This is what our politics have come down to. Many Democrats will say and do anything, however unjust, to bring Kavanaugh down. And now it’s clear that a top GOP activist and close Kavanaugh friend will risk destroying the life of a private citizen — about whom there is not a shred of evidence that he did anything wrong — for the sake of getting Kavanaugh on the Court.

How on earth did Whelan convince himself that it was okay to put that man’s name and face out there under these circumstances? Whelan is not a hack. He’s a former Supreme Court clerk and a very smart man.

UPDATE: So now this:

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Well, I’m glad he recognizes this, but what about the poor middle-school teacher who was held up by Ed Whelan as a possible attempted rapist — this, to protect Whelan’s friend Brett Kavanaugh? It is an utter disgrace, what Whelan did. These two tweets, back to back on my feed, sum it up: