During Brett Kavanaugh’s Senate testimony last week, Orrin Hatch asked the prospective Supreme Court justice, “When did you first hear of Ms. Ramirez’s allegations against you?” Kavanaugh replied, “In the last — in the period since then, the New Yorker story.” Hatch was referring to Deborah Ramirez’s charge that Kavanaugh humiliated her by waving his penis in her face while she was intoxicated. Kavanaugh appeared to be saying he heard of the charges after they appeared in The New Yorker in September.
NBC reports that this, like many things Kavanaugh said in his testimony, is false. Kavanaugh’s friends gathered testimony attempting to refute Ramirez’s allegations weeks before The New Yorker’s story was published. Some of the witnesses were contacted by people working on Kavanaugh’s behalf as early as July, according to text messages one witness has shared with the FBI.
This demonstrates to a near-certainty that Kavanaugh knew about the incident weeks before the story came to light. It is possible he had somehow heard about false charges being circulated in advance, worked to refute them, and then misled the Senate about when he heard about them. An alternative, more direct explanation would be that he worked to refute the charge because he knew about it from having actually done what he was accused of.
There is no doubt, however, that Kavanaugh intentionally misled the Senate. In a transcribed interview with the Senate Judiciary Committee, he very clearly stated that he had no advance knowledge of Ramirez’s allegations until The New Yorker’s story was published:
On the other hand, as Charles Cooke points out, later in the interview, Kavanaugh tells the committee that he “heard” about Ramirez’s charges:
This answer by Kavanaugh does not specifically state that he was aware of Ramirez’s allegations before the article came out. Kavanaugh is merely following the cue of a friendly Republican questioner, who is bringing up a party talking point that the New York Times “passed up” the Ramirez story. (In fact, it was simply unable to reach the source who spoke with The New Yorker.) Kavanaugh then proceeds to say Ramirez was shopping around recollections of the incident to classmates, but does not clarify when this information became known to him. And then, in any case, his public statement to Hatch two days later left the impression the allegations were a complete shock when they appeared in The New Yorker.
In any case, the FBI investigation is still in its early stages, it has now been freed from the shackles Trump had initially placed on it, and Kavanaugh is defending an account that does not add up.