During last week’s hearing on allegations that he sexually assaulted Dr. Christine Blasey Ford in the 1980s, U.S. Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh talked a lot about his life and what he has accomplished.
The only problem is that not all of what he said was true.
Here is a brief list of things — big and small — that Kavanaugh mischaracterized, exaggerated, and simply lied about.
His connections to Yale University
“I have no connections there. I got there by busting my tail,” Kavanaugh said of getting into Yale University.
Two days later, The Intercept reported that Kavanaugh lied about not having connections to the university. In fact, he was a legacy student. Everett Edward Kavanaugh, his grandfather, went to Yale for his undergraduate years. Kavanaugh, who did have an advantage for getting into Yale, has shown he is not enthusiastic about the value of race conscious programs. It is possible then that a former legacy student could rule against affirmative action at universities.
It is also of great importance, however, that Kavanaugh continues to lie about a detail of his life that reporters and senators can easily fact-check.
The facts surrounding the allegations
Ford, who goes by Dr. Blasey professionally, has said there were a number of other people at the gathering where she said Kavanaugh sexually assaulted her in the 1980s.
During the hearing last week, Kavanaugh repeatedly misrepresented statements from four of those people.
“And you know, yeah, and it’s been investigated and all four witnesses say it didn’t happen,” Kavanaugh said.
At another point in the hearing, Kavanaugh claimed, “Dr. Ford’s allegation is not merely uncorroborated, it is refuted by the very people she says were there, including by a longtime friend of hers. Refuted.”
But that clearly isn’t true. Being unable to corroborate Ford’s accusation is not the same thing as saying it didn’t happen.
Ford’s high school friend, Leland Keyser, didn’t see the assault happen, doesn’t remember if she was at the gathering, and wasn’t informed of it by Ford. But she has never said it didn’t happen. Keyser told the Senate Judiciary Committee through her lawyer, “Notably, Ms. Keyser does not refute Dr. Ford’s account, and she has already told the press that she believes Dr. Ford’s account.“
When Kavanaugh said, “It’s been investigated,” that’s also incorrect. None of the witnesses other than Ford and Kavanaugh have been interviewed. Kavanaugh’s friend Mark Judge, who Ford said was at the party and watched the assault happen, sent a letter to Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-IA) and Dianne Feinstein (D-CA) in which he said did not recall the events Dr. Ford described at the hearing and did not want to speak publicly about the issue. When asked by Sen. Richard Blumenthal (D-CT) whether Judge’s letter is a substitute for an investigation or FBI interview, Kavanaugh held fast to the idea that this “testimony” was enough.
Claims about his high school life
Kavanaugh made a number of claims about his high school and college years that are, at best, very difficult to believe. His statements about his drinking, his socializing, and his attitudes toward women just don’t hold up to further scrutiny.
Kavanaugh characterized his social circle as not including girls from Ford’s private school, Holton-Arms.
“When my friends and I spent time together at parties on weekends, it was usually with friends from nearby Catholic all-girls high schools — Stone Ridge, Holy Child, Visitation, Immaculata, Holy Cross,” he said. “Dr. Blasey did not attend one of those schools. She attended an independent private school named Holton-Arms, and she was a year behind me.”
But people in Kavanaugh’s class say that boys from his school frequently spent time with girls from Holton-Arms, making it hard to believe that Kavanaugh wasn’t familiar with any of the girls who attended the school.
Kavanaugh, who said he has always been respectful to women, became particularly angry at the hearing when senators mentioned his yearbook’s repeated references to “Renate alumni.”
In the yearbook, Kavanaugh, Judge, and members of the football team called themselves “Renate Alumni.” One person who also referred to Renate called himself a “Renate Alumnus” and wrote, “You need a date / and it’s getting late / so don’t hesitate / to call Renate.”
As the New York Times reported, they were referring to Renate Schroeder Dolphin, a girl who went to a school near Georgetown Prep. A former Georgetown Prep student, Sean Hagan, said of Kavanaugh and his teammates, “They were very disrespectful, at least verbally, with Renate” and “I can’t express how disgusted I am with them, then and now.”
The students who referred to Renate denied that they were implying that they had sex with her, and said they were only claiming to have gone on dates with her. But whether they were referring to sex or simply dates, it doesn’t appear to be respectful of Renate or women in general, and the woman in question certainly doesn’t think so. Dolphin told the Times that the yearbook reference is “horrible, hurtful and simply untrue” and that she hopes the daughters of the men who wrote it are never treated the same way.
Still, during his opening statement Kavanaugh claimed it was innocent and said, “One thing in particular we were sad about, one of our good—one of our good female friends who we would admire and went to dances with had her name used on the yearbook page with the term alumnus. That term was clumsily used to show affection, to show she was one of us.”
Kavanaugh has also claimed he kissed Dolphin once. Dolphin said this did not happen.
It is also seems highly implausible that the yearbook mentions of “boofing” and devil’s triangle” aren’t their commonly understood meanings — anal sex and two men having sex with one woman, respectively. Kavanaugh claims that the first just means flatulence and the second is a drinking game.
But that seems unlikely particularly in the context in which Kavanaugh uses the words. On Kavanaugh’s yearbook page, you can see the phrase “Judge, have you boofed yet?” and a common theme of phrases that relate to drinking and sex.
Kavanaugh could have simply told senators that he was a different person then and has since learned to be more respectful of women, but instead, he is denying so many details about his youth that it’s hard to believe anything he says is true.
How much he drank alcohol
When it comes to Kavanaugh’s drinking habits, he said at the hearing, “I drank beer with my friends. Almost everyone did. Sometimes I had too many beers. Sometimes others did. I liked beer. I still like beer. But I did not drink beer to the point of blacking out.”
It seems highly unlikely that, with the number of college friends who said he was a very heavy drinker, that Kavanaugh never blacked out, and his inability to answer prosecutor Rachel Mitchell’s question about how many beers he drank does not help his case.
On Thursday, Sen. Richard Blumenthal (D-CT) asked Kavanaugh about a speech he gave at a Yale. Blumenthal said, ” … you described, quote, falling out of the bus onto the front steps of the Yale law school at 4:45 a.m. … The quote ends that you ‘tried to piece things back together’ to recall what happened that night.”
Kavanaugh responded that he knew what happened that night, despite the implications of his speech. During another exchange, he said that he never passed out from drinking, but “only fell asleep.”
A college friend of Kavanaugh’s, Liz Swisher, said to the Washington Post, “There’s no medical way I can say that he was blacked out. . . . But it’s not credible for him to say that he has had no memory lapses in the nights that he drank to excess.”
During the hearing, Kavanaugh could have admitted to drinking heavily and being disrespectful toward women and still claim that he did not assault Ford. Instead he chose to tell blatant lies, tried to mislead senators on the facts, and make claims about his high school and college life that strain credulity. His willingness to, at the very least, stretch the truth should make senators call into question whether he is being truthful when he says he did not assault Ford.