Multiple reports on Monday evening shed light on Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh’s recent efforts to rein in his friends’ comments about his behavior as a student at Yale University.
NBC News reported that Kavanaugh and his legal team had been texting with the judge’s college friends to undercut classmate Deborah Ramirez’s allegations of sexual misconduct before she went public in The New Yorker. The messages, summarized in a memo obtained by NBC, suggest that Kavanaugh’s relationship to Ramirez was closer than he let on and that she was uncomfortable around him when they were both at a wedding 10 years after they graduated.
Ramirez was the second woman to accuse Kavanaugh of sexual misconduct, saying he exposed himself at a gathering when they were both in college and thrust his penis in her face. She said she was inebriated but confident enough in her recollection to go public and ask the FBI to investigate the claims.
Kavanaugh has vehemently denied the allegation and told the Senate Judiciary Committee last week that he first heard about Ramirez’s claim in the New Yorker article. The text messages, however, indicate that his team had been working to refute Ramirez’s accusation long beforehand.
A New York Times report on Monday also seemed to further the narrative that Kavanaugh was known during his Yale days as a heavy drinker.
The Times, citing a police report from 1985, reported that officers questioned Kavanaugh after a bar fight while he was a junior at Yale. Kavanaugh was accused of throwing ice at a patron at the bar, and one of his friends, Chris Dudley, was accused of hitting the man with a glass on the side of the head.
Kavanaugh was not arrested, but another Yale classmate who said he was at the bar that night issued a statement providing other details of the encounter.
“On one of the last occasions I purposely socialized with Brett, I witnessed him respond to a semi-hostile remark, not by defusing the situation, but by throwing his beer in the man’s face,” the classmate, Chad Ludington, said in the statement on Sunday, noting he had been in contact with the FBI.
Ludington expanded on his statement during an interview with CNN’s Chris Cuomo later on Monday, telling the host he believed Kavanaugh lied to Congress about his past behavior with alcohol.
“I believe that he lied, distorted and dissembled to the Senate Judiciary Committee,” Ludington said of the judge. “He never acknowledged that he got to the point that he might not actually remember something. And I find that very hard to believe, actually. I find that impossible to believe, actually.”
While Ludington said he doesn’t think there’s anything inappropriate about drinking in college, he noted that he thought it was “fundamentally wrong” to lie to lawmakers.
Several of Kavanaugh’s other acquaintances have been in touch with or working to contact the Justice Department in recent days after the White House gave the FBI authority to investigate claims by Ramirez and Christine Blasey Ford, who said Kavanaugh sexually assaulted her when she was 15.
A Yale classmate of Kavanaugh’s, Kerry Berchem, told NBC that she had emailed an FBI agent about the text messages and sent a follow-up note, but had not heard back.
Berchem said in a statement to the outlet that she had “no direct or indirect knowledge about any of the allegations” against Kavanaugh.
“However, I am in receipt of text messages from a mutual friend of both Debbie and mine that raise questions related to the allegations,” Berchem said. “I have not drawn any conclusions as to what the texts may mean or may not mean but I do believe they merit investigation by the FBI and the Senate.”
CNN also reported that Ramirez had supplied the FBI with an “extensive” list of names to investigate in relation to her allegations.
Carla Baranauckas contributed to this report.
This story has been updated with additional comment from Chad Ludington.