After California psychology professor Christine Blasey Ford stepped forward in September 2018 to accuse Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh of sexual assault, conspiracy theorists spun yarns aimed at implicating her in a supposed plot by Democratic Party elites to smear Kavanaugh's reputation.
Conspiracy mongers circulated miscaptioned photographs allegedly linking Dr. Ford to prominent liberals. They also asserted, falsely, that Ford had filed similar sexual misconduct accusations against a previous Trump appointee, Neil Gorsuch. They shared images that supposedly showed Ford attending an anti-Trump rally and exhibiting drunken behavior at parties.
During the week of her scheduled testimony before the Senate Judiciary Committee, they made a concerted effort to demonstrate so-called "close family ties" between Ford and former FBI agent Peter Strzok, who was fired in mid-2018 for sending anti-Trump text messages. Far-right bloggers have portrayed Strzok as a "deep state" operative "planted" in the FBI to undermine Trump's presidency.
One version of the family-ties scenario held that Strzok's sister-in-law (identified in the video below as "Jill Strzok") works with, or used to work with, Christine Blasey Ford's brother, Thomas Blasey:
Should we even be surprised anymore? Peter Strzok's sister-in-law works with Christine Blasey Ford's brother.
(Corrected version with Jill Strzok) pic.twitter.com/9mzFzXbPVi
— PaleoHorse (@PaleoHorse) September 26, 2018
Other versions identified Jill Strzok as Peter Strzok's wife:
So Christine Blasey Ford’s brother, Thomas Blasey, worked with Jill Strzok who happens to be married to Peter Strzok??? REALLY? I dont know why this didn't come up yesterday but if true as it's been reported the case close - Confirm Brett Kavanaugh
— Queen to His King (@CutlerCM) September 28, 2018
How are Peter Strzok and Dr.Blasey-Ford connected?
* Peter Strzok married Jill Strzok
* Jill Strzok worked for Exelis Inc.
*Exelis is owned by Thomas Blasey
* Thomas Blasey married Christine Ford#WeSeeYou #IStandWithBrett #VoteRed #QAnon #WWG1WGA #NeverDem #ConfirmKavanaugh pic.twitter.com/oP0U2RI0G3
— Imma Censored Baught ??? (@bot_imma) September 25, 2018
Elsewhere, Jill was identified as Peter Strzok's sister:
Christine Blasey Ford's brother, Tom Blasey, worked at Exelis Inc. & so did Peter Strzok's sister, Jill Strzok.
Coincidence Ford's attorney is requesting an FBI investigation? pic.twitter.com/1d4NvBVFhF
— @REALcnaegely (@realcnaegely) September 26, 2018
Christine blasey ford"s Brother , Tom Blasey worked with Jill Strzok. jill is peter Strzok sister ?
— MAGA REPORTER - THE DREGE (@WALKAWAY2018) September 29, 2018
The notion that Peter Strzok and Jill Strzok are spouses appears to have originated with a 26 September post on a blog called "Common Sense Evaluation":
Oh what a tangled web we weave…
Christine Blasey Ford’s brother, Thomas Blasey, worked with Jill Strzok who is married to Peter Strzok.
Isn’t it interesting how all these scumbags know each other? Almost like a little club.
For the record, Jill Strzok is not Peter Strzok's wife. Peter is married to Melissa Hodgman, an attorney who works, as of this writing, at the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission in Washington, D.C. As will be confirmed shortly, Jill isn't Peter Strzok's sister or sister-in-law, either.
Interestingly, all these variants based their claims on the same documentation, a patchwork genealogical chart supposedly connecting the dots between the Strzok and Blasey families:
Took a while but its now fully sauced
— Cyrus Leone (@OnlyCyrusReport) September 25, 2018
One needn't confirm the accuracy of the chart to see that it doesn't prove what it's supposed to prove. According to the diagram, Peter Strzok's grandfather and the grandfather of Jill Strzok's husband (Sidney Strzok) were siblings, which, if true, would mean that Sidney and Peter are second cousins, and Jill Strzok would be Peter's second cousin-in-law:
But the chart has a crucial detail wrong: Peter and Sidney Strzok's grandfathers were not, in fact, siblings. According to published obituaries, Sidney's grandfather (Thomas Charles Strzok) was the son of Charles and Frances Mary Strzok. Peter's grandfather (Michael John Strzok) was the son of John and MaryAnne Strzok. We can't tell, based on the information at hand, what familial connection (if any) the grandfathers may have had, nor how far back one has to trace these separate branches of the Strzok family tree to find a point of intersection. At best, Peter and Sidney Strzok could be distant cousins, which would make Jill Strzok Peter's distant cousin by marriage.
Another area of the chart indicates, correctly, that Christine Blasey Ford has a brother named Thomas Blasey, whom the Washington Post confirmed is a Washington-area lawyer. According to his LinkedIn profile, Blasey currently holds the position of assistant general counsel at Northrop Grumman Corporation in Falls Church, Virginia.
It's alleged that Thomas Blasey and Jill Strzok currently or formerly worked for the same company, Exelis Inc., an aerospace and defense contractor. Blasey's LinkedIn profile confirms he was employed by Exelis Inc. from 2011 to 2015. Although Jill Strzok's LinkedIn profile doesn't list Exelis by name, it does list ITT Corporation as one of her ongoing employers from 2005 to the present. Exelis Inc. was a division of ITT until it was spun off as a separate company (still branded "ITT Exelis) in 2011. We found evidence that Strzok was an employee of Exelis Inc. in the form of an undated document naming ITT Exelis as the prime contractor for a military software design project and Jill Strzok as the "procuring contract officer" on behalf of Exelis.
We have not been able to determine the exact period of time during which Strzok worked specifically for Exelis, however. A popular "people search" website, Radaris.com, says she worked there between 2005 and 2007, though that information is unvetted and possibly unreliable.
In any case, it scarcely matters whether Strzok and Blasey worked for the company at the same time. Strzok is a subcontracts manager who worked out of Exelis's Colorado offices; Blasey is an intellectual property lawyer who worked out of the company's office in McLean, Virginia. It's unlikely their paths ever crossed.
More to the point, the notion that Jill Strzok and Thomas Blasey (who conceivably have never met one another) represent "three degrees of separation" between alleged "deep state" conspirator Peter Strzok and Christine Blasey Ford depends on Jill and Peter Strzok being close relatives, which they demonstrably are not.