To: Interested Parties
From: People For the American Way
Date: September 27, 2018
Re: Brett Kavanaugh Further Damages His Own Credibility
Even before the troubling sexual assault charges against Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh, there were serious concerns about his honesty and trustworthiness:
- Kavanaugh’s testimony at his initial hearings was full of misrepresentations and what many have called outright lies.
- As selective aspects of his record during the Bush Administration came to light during the hearings, it has become clear that he lied or misrepresented about a number of subjects, including his knowledge and use of documents stolen by a former Republican staff member, the degree of his involvement in several controversial Bush judicial nominations, his involvement in warrantless wiretapping and other questionable conduct by the Bush Administration, and his views on Roe v. Wade.
- In fact, he even misrepresented or distorted his own judicial opinions to the Senate Judiciary Committee in an effort to make his record appear more acceptable for elevation to the Supreme Court.
- In denying the sexual assault allegations against him on Fox TV, however, Kavanaugh has further undermined his own honesty and credibility.
“Choir Boy” Routine Shows a Willingness to Seriously Mislead the Public
Specifically, Kavanaugh did not simply deny the contentions of Dr. Christine Blasey Ford and Deborah Ramirez. Instead, as commentators have noted, he attempted to portray himself as what some have described as a “choir boy” who was focused on academics, sports, and going to church, and who “always” treated women with “dignity and respect.” With respect to the conduct concerning Ms. Ramirez, Kavanaugh asserted that the women and men he knew in college have said that it’s “unconceivable that I could’ve done such a thing.” To counter the suggestion that he may have been so drunk that he may not recall the assaults, he claimed that while he did do some drinking, he did not regularly drink to excess, pass out when drinking, or drink so much that he could not recall specifics the next day, acknowledging only that “people” at parties “had beer” and “might have had too many beers on occasion.”.
As discussed in detail below, these claims are demonstrably false. By making them, he has put at issue his behavior during his entire life in high school, college, and beyond. The confirmation process and today’s hearing are all part of Judge Kavanaugh’s job interview for a lifetime seat on the country’s highest court. His testimony today, as well as that of his accuser, Dr. Christine Blasey Ford, must be viewed in the context of all the testimony and interviews Kavanaugh has provided and whether it comports with the documented record. The fact is the image that he has sought to construct does not match the evidence that exists, and that raises serious questions about whether he can be believed and is fit for the Supreme Court. A review of the available record shows a pattern of questionable behavior and association by Kavanaugh that, once again, shows he does not have the honesty and credibility to become a Supreme Court justice.
Kavanaugh’s Classmates in College Contradict His Denials of Excessive Drinking
One of Kavanaugh’s Yale classmates, Deborah Ramirez, has accused Kavanaugh of “expos[ing] himself at a drunken dormitory party, thrust[ing] his penis in her face, and caus[ing] her to touch it without her consent as she pushed him away.” Kavanaugh’s claims that he did not disrespect or attempt to abuse women or drink heavily while in college and law school, and that those in college who knew him think it is “unconceivable” that he could have done what Ms. Ramirez has alleged, are squarely contradicted by the facts, including at least one fact known to Kavanaugh before he even made his Fox appearance.
Specifically, Kavanaugh’s freshman college roommate, James Roche, released a statement after Ms. Ramirez’s allegations and Kavanaugh’s initial denial. “Although Brett was normally reserved,” Roche explained, “he was a notably heavy drinker” and was “frequently drinking excessively and becoming incoherently drunk,” and that Kavanaugh “became aggressive and belligerent when he was very drunk.” While Roche did not observe this specific conduct in question, he concluded that “he [Kavanaugh] and his social circle were capable of the actions that Debbie [Ramirez] described.” Kavanaugh was clearly aware of Roche’s statement before he made his claim that people who knew him though it “unconceivable” that he “could’ve done such a thing,” and provided no explanation for the statement when he was asked about it by the Fox interviewer.
The day after the Fox interview, a news story reported that more Yale classmates who knew Kavanaugh contradicted his assertions. Liz Swisher, a college friend of Kavanaugh who drank with him, explained that,” Brett was a sloppy drunk,” he drank “more than a lot of people,” and he would “end up slurring his words, stumbling.” She concluded that “it’s not credible for him to say that he has had no memory lapses in the nights that he drank to excess” or that he never drank to the point of blacking out.
Lynne Brookes, another Yale classmate and a self-described Republican, recalled seeing a drunken Kavanaugh at an event for his fraternity. She said that there was “no way” he could have recalled all the behavior she saw, when fraternity members pushed pledges to get “ridiculously drunk,” and do “ridiculous things.”
Kavanaugh Was a Member of Several Wild, Party-Oriented Clubs in College
Statements from Kavanaugh’s classmates challenging his narrative align with the social circle Kavanaugh was part of. During his time at Yale, Kavanaugh was in fact a member of the “Truth and Courage” secret society, and the Delta Kappa Epsilon (DKE) fraternity, both of which had reputations for heavy drinking and poor treatment of women. According to the Yale Daily News, the “Truth and Courage” secret society was “an all-male club popular among athletes and known to some by the nickname ‘Tit and Clit.’” One woman who graduated from Yale explained that while “[o]ther societies were looking for a prestigious family background, or your GPA,” Truth and Courage was “organized around having sex with coeds.”
Kavanaugh was also a member of the DKE fraternity. The image below ran on the front page of the Yale Daily News on January 18, 1985, during his sophomore year. It shows members of Kavanaugh’s fraternity initiating their new pledges—whom they called “buttholes”—while waving a flag made of women’s underwear.
Three days after this image was published, a student wrote a letter to the editor about it titled “Fraternity initiation antics demean women.” In the letter, the author described witnessing the DKE pledge parade firsthand. She explained “I went up to the front of the line and asked one marcher who was quite near the flag whether there were any briefs or jockstraps in it, or just ‘girls stuff?’ He replied, ‘There might be guys stuff. I doubt it.’ ‘But hey,’ he said, by way of consolation, ‘your panties might be here!’ Whose bras were they? Anonymous ones from basement laundry rooms? Momentos from loving girlfriends? A more sobering thought. Spoils from private panty raids I’ve been missing? They reminded me of the scalps that warriors attach to their belts, relics that advertise conquest and ward off the enemy as they swing in the breeze, or more literally, the snow.”
Nevetheless, Kavanaugh’s fraternity organized the exact same parade around campus—initiating “buttholes” and waving their women’s-underwear-flag—the following year, when Kavanaugh was a junior. The picture below ran on the front page of the Yale Daily News on January 17, 1986, during Kavanaugh’s junior year.
Behavior Continues in Law School
Although less is known about Kavanaugh’s years at Yale Law School in 1987-90, there is evidence that at least the drunken behavior continued. In 2014 remarks to the Yale Law School Federalist Society Banquet, Kavanaugh stated: “I am approaching the 24th anniversary of my organizing 30 classmates in a bus to go to Boston for a Red Sox game and a night of Boston bar-hopping, only for us to return falling out of the bus onto the front steps of Yale Law School at about 4:45 a.m. One friend of mine, Steve Hartmann, actually had a Labor Law final the next morning. (I checked with him just yesterday to confirm that it was Labor Law.) True story. On the bus, he actually had his book out and was reading his notes while people were doing group chugs from a keg. He got a P. I think the people doing the group chugs got H’s. Fortunately for all of us, we had a motto, what happens on the bus stays on the bus.”1
Later in those remarks, Kavanaugh stated that as a third-year law student, he chose to neglect required school work in favor of drinking, explaining that, “but we didn’t care that night. We had a memorable evening. It is fair to say that we had a few drinks. Indeed, as a classmate of mine and I were reminiscing and piecing things together the other day, we think we had more than a few beers before the banquet.” Kavanaugh then described a friend who became so drunk at this event that he broke a table, before persuading the bartender to serve him additional drinks.1
Charges Against Kavanaugh even Earlier, in High School
Several serious charges have been leveled against Brett Kavanaugh concerning his years in high school from 1979-83 at Georgetown Preparatory School, which have also given rise to significant evidence that belies the honesty and credibility of his “good boy” claims. Dr. Christine Blasey Ford, who attended the nearby Holton-Arms School, has accused Kavanaugh of sexually assaulting her at a party in 1982 when she was 15 and he was 17. According to Ford, Kavanaugh and his friend Mark Judge, “both ‘stumbling drunk,’ . . . corralled her into a bedroom during a gathering of teenagers at a house in Montgomery County. While his friend watched, she said, Kavanaugh pinned her to a bed on her back and groped her over her clothes, grinding his body against hers and clumsily attempting to pull off her one-piece bathing suit and the clothing she wore over it. When she tried to scream, she said, he put his hand over her mouth. ‘I thought he might inadvertently kill me,’ said Ford.” On Fox and elsewhere, Kavanaugh has denied these allegations.
Even more recently, Julie Swetnick, who also grew up in the DC suburbs and is around Kavanaugh’s age, executed a sworn statement claiming that she observed Kavanaugh participating in misconduct at parties where young women were abused verbally, touched inappropriately, made “disoriented” with drugs or alcohol, and “gang raped.” She specifically stated that Kavanaugh participated in the violence that she witnessed. That included his lining up outside a bedroom where “numerous boys” were “waiting for their ‘turn’ with a girl inside the room.” Kavanaugh has denied these claims as well.
Kavanaugh and Mark Judge
Swetnick’s affidavit also describes Kavanaugh’s close friend Mark Judge as a participant in the misconduct she recounted. Judge has written that Georgetown Prep was “positively swimming in alcohol, and [his] class partied with gusto.” Judge’s books suggest that Kavanaugh, contrary to the image he has tried to portray of himself, was a frequent attendee at those parties.
Judge’s memoirs, God and Man at Georgetown Prep and Wasted: Tales of a Gen X Drunk, are rife with stories of heavy underage drinking and chasing women. For example, in God and Man at Georgetown Prep, Judge describes his fellow Georgetown Prep students throwing a bachelor party for a teacher:
Senior year, we threw Mr. Maud a bachelor party when he announced he was getting married. A guy whose parents were away volunteered his house, and we got a keg of beer and hired a stripper. We took pictures—of guys throwing up, drunkenly jumping into the swimming pool, mooning the camera.3
Wasted: Tales of a Gen X Drunk also details a scene that appears to describe Kavanaugh drunk to the point of throwing up during “Beach Week” in Ocean City, Maryland:
“So how do you like Prep?” Mary asked.“It’s cool.”“Do you know Bart O’Kavanaugh?”“Yeah, he’s around here somewhere.”“I heard he puked in someone’s car the other night.”“Yeah. He passed out on his way back from a party.”4
Judge’s book God and Man at Georgetown Prep further describes Beach Week: “Every summer the Catholic kids would go to the Eastern Shore of Maryland for a week in June. . . . In 1980, my sophomore year at Georgetown Prep, a group of us got a place in Ocean City, Maryland. We also managed to hoodwink our parents—our chaperone could not have been more than thirty. . . . [The chaperone] . . . would buy us as much beer as we could drink. . . . Without parents, without even a serious chaperone, we were allowed to enter into a different reality. We . . . got drunk at night and in the middle of the day, and chased girls without fear of a curfew or punishment.”5
Kavanaugh’s Yearbook Page
In addition to Judge’s statements, ,Kavanaugh’s senior page from the Georgetown Prep yearbook lists a number of likely references to alcohol that contradict his claims about his behavior in high school. For example, Kavanaugh’s yearbook references “Keg City Club (Treasurer) – 100 Kegs or Bust.” As Mark Judge described in his book, “Senior year, my class of eighty decided that by the end of the year we would drink a hundred kegs of beer. . . . I’m sorry to say that we succeeded. . . . For most of the year we had our parties at houses where the parents were away—including a disastrous one at my house where the place was trashed.”6
Kavanaugh’s page includes several other likely references to drinking to excess, including “Beach Week Ralph Club – Biggest Contributor”; “Orioles vs. Red Sox – Who Won, Anyway?”; “Georgetown or Louisville – Who Won That Game Anyway?”; and “Rehobeth [sic] Police Fan Club (with Shorty).”
Erosion of High School Support for Kavanaugh and Corroboration of Misconduct
During his Fox interview, Kavanaugh proudly referred to the 65 women he knew in high school who signed a statement of support after sexual assault allegations were first raised. But that support has clearly eroded. Of those 65, only eight responded to media inquiries after the identification of Dr. Catherine Blasey Ford to confirm that they still support Kavanaugh. One of the 65, Renate Schroeder Dolphin, did not yet know that Kavanaugh had described himself as a “Renate alumnus” in his high school yearbook, another apparent reference to sex and women. Another yearbook page has Kavanaugh with eight other male students, with the caption “Renate Alumni.” When she learned of those references, she described the conduct as “horrible” and “hurtful.”
In addition, Mark Judge’s former girlfriend Elisabeth Rasor has corroborated part of what Ms. Swetnick has stated, and is prepared to talk to the FBI and the Senate Judiciary Committee. Her lawyer has recently corroborated a statement she made to the New Yorker that Judge had told her of “an incident that involved him and other boys taking turns having sex with a drunk woman.” Dr. Blasey Ford has stated that Rasor was present during the sex assault incident concerning Kavanaugh and Judge that she will testify about today. Although Rasor has not specifically named Kavanaugh in public statements as of now, her lawyer made clear that she would be willing to be interviewed by the FBI or speak to the Committee.
Kavanaugh in the Bush White House
There is even evidence contradicting Kavanaugh’s claims about his drinking and respect towards women from the fragmentary documents made available so far from his time in the Bush White House. Publicly released emails, in which Kavanaugh and his friends discuss plans for a September 2001 sailing trip, contain sexist and racist language. For instance, Kavanaugh’s friend who was planning the trip wrote, “Boys, Although you may be hoping that I’ve lined up a hostess for a rub-n-tug massage session, ‘Su Ching’ actually is the sailboat.” The emails do not show a response from Kavanaugh.
In an exchange after the sailing trip occurred, Kavanaugh wrote, “Excellent time, Apologies to all for missing Friday (good excuse), arriving late Saturday (weak excuse), and growing aggressive after blowing still another game of dice (don’t recall).”
In most controversies concerning Supreme Court nominations, there would be no good reason to discuss a nominee’s drinking habits or behavior towards the opposite sex. But those subjects are all too relevant to the Kavanaugh nomination. In large part, this is because of the very serious allegations of sexual assault against him. But it is also because Kavanaugh has put those subjects directly at issue by deciding, for the first time in Supreme Court nominations history, to go on national television and to make representations to the American people about those precise subjects. As shown above, those representations are clearly false, and are contradicted by classmates and others. Kavanaugh’s misrepresentations are part of a pattern that clearly disqualifies him from becoming a Supreme Court justice.
- Brett Kavanaugh, Remarks at Yale Law School Federalist Society Banquet (Apr. 23, 2014). ↩
- Brett Kavanaugh, Remarks at Yale Law School Federalist Society Banquet (Apr. 23, 2014). ↩
- Mark Judge, God and Man at Georgetown Prep, at 91 (Crossroad Publishing, 2005). ↩
- Mark Judge, Wasted: Tales of a Gen X Alcoholic, at 52 (Hazeldon, 1997). ↩
- Judge, God and Man at Georgetown Prep, at 68-69. ↩
- Judge, God and Man at Georgetown Prep, at 90, 98-99. ↩