The FBI investigation into Brett Kavanaugh has turned out to be a fig leaf. Multiple reports tell the same story: The White House has controlled the probe, ignoring the attempts by multiple witnesses to reach investigators and wrapping up its work well before its already-tight deadline.
In the meantime, however, significant new evidence has appeared from the news media. It demonstrates beyond a doubt that Kavanaugh’s emotional testimony was a farrago of evasions and outright lies.
Tuesday, the New York Times delved into Kavanaugh’s high-school culture. It turned up several details casting serious doubt on the ancillary claims the prospective justice made. Kavanaugh wrote a letter describing himself and his friends as “prolific pukers,” undercutting his assurance to the Senate that his inclusion in the the “Beach Week Ralph Club” was a reference to a weak stomach for spicy food. His yearbook described girls from Holton-Arms — the alma mater of Christine Blasey Ford — as easy sexual conquests, contradicting Kavanaugh’s insistence that she would not have entered his social circle. (“My friends and I spent time together at parties on weekends, it was usually the — with friends from nearby Catholic all-girls high schools, Stone Ridge, Holy Child, Visitation, Immaculata, Holy Cross. Dr. Ford did not attend one of those schools. She attended an independent private school named Holton-Arms and she was a year behind me.”)
Also in his testimony, Kavanaugh evasively refused to even concede that the “Bart O’Kavanaugh” described by his best friend, Mark Judge, was a fictionalized reference to himself. “I’m trying to get a straight answer from you under oath. Are you Bart Kavanaugh that he’s referring to, yes or no?” asked Senator Patrick Leahy. “You’d have to ask him.” The Times found a letter written by Kavanaugh, signed “Bart.”
Wednesday, James Roche, a former college roommate of Kavanaugh’s, wrote a column for Slate expressing his incredulity at the self-portrait the judge presented before the Senate. Roche noted that Kavanaugh’s drinking was far more serious than he had allowed. More specifically, he contradicted Kavanaugh’s dubious claims that his reference to “boofing” meant flatulence, and “Devil’s Triangle” a drinking game. “Boofing” and “Devil’s Triangle” are sexual references,” write Roche. “I know this because I heard Brett and his friends using these terms on multiple occasions.”
During his testimony, Kavanaugh piously insisted his description as a “Renate Alumnius” was a term of affection for a friend they regarded as one of their own, devoid of any sexual connotation. Last night, The New Yorker reported one of Kavanaugh’s high-school friends’ detailed recollections that this was a complete lie. His recollections are worth reading in detail:
But the classmate who submitted the statement said that he heard Kavanaugh “talk about Renate many times,” and that “the impression I formed at the time from listening to these conversations where Brett Kavanaugh was present was that Renate was the girl that everyone passed around for sex.” The classmate said that “Brett Kavanaugh had made up a rhyme using the REE NATE pronunciation of Renate’s name” and sang it in the hallways on the way to class. He recalled the rhyme going, “REE NATE, REE NATE, if you want a date, can’t get one until late, and you wanna get laid, you can make it with REE NATE.” He said that, while he might not be remembering the rhyme word-for-word, “the substance is 100 percent accurate.” He added, “I thought that this was sickening at the time I heard it, and it left an indelible mark in my memory.”
Kavanaugh’s testimony accomplished its intended effect of forming an emotional bond between him and the Republican Party, elevating him to the status of martyr. Every conservative seems to see in Kavanaugh a reflection of the pain they have suffered from the sneering liberal elite. But we now know for certain that that testimony, all delivered in the same earnest pitch of an innocent man pleading for his good name, was filled with demonstrable lies. Many of these lies were already apparent at the beginning of the week. Now the evidence is even more damning.
To the extent conservatives have acknowledged this at all, they have processed it as somehow confirming that Kavanaugh is being persecuted. Proof that he told repeated lies about his youthful drinking and treatment of girls does not suggest to them that his other claims about his youthful drinking and treatment of girls are probably wrong. Instead they have concluded he is being subjected to some new and irrelevant test of purity. “Will a full-bore investigation of adolescent behavior now become a standard part of the ‘job interview’ for all senior office holders?” asks Bret Stephens. What a bizarre description of reporters fact-checking Kavanaugh’s own testimony.
At the beginning of this process, I was willing to entertain the possibility Kavanaugh might be innocent. People can change. I believe he has grown into a better and more responsible adult than the drunken bully he was as a young man. He could have acknowledged and apologized for his misbehavior. Instead, he denied everything. Like Trump, he found a way to manipulate and exploit the emotional core of the American right, from the voters to the elites, almost all of whom now ignore or justify his lies in the greater cause of service to their party.