Another Allegation

I spoke too soon...

This time via Ronan Farrow and Jane Mayer in The New Yoker:  Senate Democrats Investigate a New Allegation of Sexual Misconduct, from Brett Kavanaugh’s College Years.

The woman at the center of the story, Deborah Ramirez, who is fifty-three, attended Yale with Kavanaugh, where she studied sociology and psychology. Later, she spent years working for an organization that supports victims of domestic violence. The New Yorker contacted Ramirez after learning of her possible involvement in an incident involving Kavanaugh. The allegation was conveyed to Democratic senators by a civil-rights lawyer. For Ramirez, the sudden attention has been unwelcome, and prompted difficult choices. She was at first hesitant to speak publicly, partly because her memories contained gaps because she had been drinking at the time of the alleged incident. In her initial conversations with The New Yorker, she was reluctant to characterize Kavanaugh’s role in the alleged incident with certainty. After six days of carefully assessing her memories and consulting with her attorney, Ramirez said that she felt confident enough of her recollections to say that she remembers Kavanaugh had exposed himself at a drunken dormitory party, thrust his penis in her face, and caused her to touch it without her consent as she pushed him away. Ramirez is now calling for the F.B.I. to investigate Kavanaugh’s role in the incident. “I would think an F.B.I. investigation would be warranted,” she said.

In a statement, Kavanaugh wrote, “This alleged event from 35 years ago did not happen. The people who knew me then know that this did not happen, and have said so. This is a smear, plain and simple. I look forward to testifying on Thursday about the truth, and defending my good name–and the reputation for character and integrity I have spent a lifetime building–against these last-minute allegations.”

Emphasis mine–and more details in the piece.

There will be much made, and rightly so, of the fact that Ms. Ramirez had to think about her memories.  However, there are more than enough details provided to allow for further investigation.  This only strengthens the position I took in my previous post:  thoroughly investigate, or withdraw and nominate someone else.

FILED UNDER: Supreme Court, US Politics, , , , , , ,
Steven L. Taylor
About Steven L. Taylor
Steven L. Taylor is a Professor of Political Science and a College of Arts and Sciences Dean. His main areas of expertise include parties, elections, and the institutional design of democracies. His most recent book is the co-authored A Different Democracy: American Government in a 31-Country Perspective. He earned his Ph.D. from the University of Texas and his BA from the University of California, Irvine. He has been blogging since 2003 (originally at the now defunct Poliblog). Follow Steven on Twitter


  1. Kari Q says:

    According to the article, at least one classmate remembered the incident from the time and independently verified some of the details that she reported.

    And Republicans knew about this allegation last week. This explains why they were pushing so hard to hold a vote as soon as possible; as soon as the second allegation became public, confirmation becomes impossible.

    What it doesn’t explain is why they didn’t tell him “withdraw now.”

    Edited to add: I don’t know how much trust to put in Michael Avenatti, but he claims to be working with a third woman who will also accuse Kavanaugh of sexual misconduct.

  2. Kari Q says:

    I don’t know how much trust to put in Michael Avenatti, but he claims to be working with a third woman.

  3. Moosebreath says:

    From the cited article:

    “Senior Republican staffers also learned of the allegation last week and, in conversations with The New Yorker, expressed concern about its potential impact on Kavanaugh’s nomination. Soon after, Senate Republicans issued renewed calls to accelerate the timing of a committee vote.”

    Ladies and gentlemen, your party of family values.

  4. Michael Reynolds says:

    Ronan Farrow’s going to need a new shelf for his Pulitzers.

    My first thought was it might be a right wing provocation, but their stories are never this detailed or subtle. I believe this is going to be bye bye to Brett.

  5. Kathy says:

    Whether Kavanaugh withdraws or not, the matter should still be investigated. If nothing else, he may have been lying under oath about it at the confirmation hearings. Perjury about such things is a serious matter for an appellate judge.

  6. Tyrell says:

    “after consulting with her attorney” : that says it all right there.
    What happened to “innocent until proven guilty”? Some Democrats say that Judge Kavanaugh should not be allowed to say anything in his own defense! I am glad they are telling me ahead of time their attitude about legal rights. I certainly don’t want them running things.
    Just which of the justices on Trump’s short list would the Democrats approve? Anyone? The point is the whole process has become a sham.
    Some Democrats have said if Judge Kavanaugh gets approved, they will try to umpeach him later. I have been saying that they should be doing that all along on these soft on crime judges who let vicious criminals out to roam the streets. “Impeach Earl Warren” – popular bumper sticker of the 1960’s.
    If Trump nominated Judge Oliver Wendell Holmes, some of the Democrats would even oppose him and try to dredge up old stuff.
    My personal choices would be Judge Kennesaw Landis and Judge Proctor. Two tough judges.
    ” How ’bout them Cowboys!”
    “Innocent until proven guilty”

  7. Michael Reynolds says:


    “after consulting with her attorney” : that says it all right there.

    Oh? Then what does it say that Trump has a dozen criminal defense attorneys who he consults daily?

    What happened to “innocent until proven guilty”?

    It’s right where it always dude, in the criminal courts. Which is not this.

  8. merl says:

    No one is saying he shouldn’t defend himself you moron.

  9. Kari Q says:


    What happened to “innocent until proven guilty”?

    I completely agree that Kavanaugh should not go to jail unless he is found guilty by a jury. Supreme Court? Whole different thing.

  10. Michael Reynolds says:

    And the hits just keep on coming. Avenatti now is saying he has more waiting in the wings, having to do with pulling trains. And not when he was 17, when he was in college.

  11. Andre Kenji de Sousa says:


    Just which of the justices on Trump’s short list would the Democrats approve?

    Chuck Schumer famously sent a letter to Bush in 2003 listing five people that he thought would get consensus support in the Senate for the SC. And that included Michael Mukasey, that would be chosen as Bush’s Attorney General.

    So, the idea that the Democrats would reject any Republican nominee is bull.

  12. HarvardLaw92 says:

    @Michael Reynolds:

    I’d go ahead and start planning for his nomination to be withdrawn. Frankly, I wouldn’t entirely be surprised if this wasn’t leaked by the Republicans in order to open the door to throwing him under the bus.

  13. Hal_10000 says:

    It’s a serious allegation and she should talk to Congress. But, even as a Kavanaugh skeptic, I’m not that impressed. There was very little of the story they could confirm.

    The New Yorker has not confirmed with other eyewitnesses that Kavanaugh was present at the party. The magazine contacted several dozen classmates of Ramirez and Kavanaugh regarding the incident. Many did not respond to interview requests; others declined to comment, or said they did not attend or remember the party. A classmate of Ramirez’s, who declined to be identified because of the partisan battle over Kavanaugh’s nomination, said that another student told him about the incident either on the night of the party or in the next day or two. The classmate said that he is “one-hundred-per-cent sure” that he was told at the time that Kavanaugh was the student who exposed himself to Ramirez.

    So, a third-hand confirmation.

    One of the male classmates who Ramirez said egged on Kavanaugh denied any memory of the party … In a statement, two of those male classmates who Ramirez alleged were involved in the incident, the wife of a third male student she said was involved, and three other classmates, Dino Ewing, Louisa Garry, and Dan Murphy, disputed Ramirez’s account of events:

    That includes roommates of Kavanaugh and Ramirez’s best friend. Others only confirm that Kavanaugh drank or that the environment at Yale was bad.

    So, not nothing, certainly. But not a lot either.

  14. Modulo Myself says:

    The GOP might keep on trying. This is Trump’s party. He’s fuming right now. Absolutely livid. One thing he knows is pay women off to keep them silent. Not this. Wonder if he fires McGahn. If Kavanaugh goes away, it’s because Trump is furious about how he didn’t keep his past covered-up. But I’m wondering if they might keep on going.

    The article absolutely destroys Kavanaugh, obviously.

  15. Michael Reynolds says:

    Yeah, the GOP committee members evidently have had it for a week. They knew even as they demanded a rush vote and rejected an FBI investigation. Honest to God, some of these people should be receiving the French solution, circa 1793. What scumbags.

  16. HarvardLaw92 says:


    Honestly, it’s enough. Whether it happened or not isn’t the issue. This is about perception. The issue will be how Senate Republicans address multiple accusers five weeks before a midterm election in which the GOP already has a staggering problem with women voters. At this point of the game, this is entirely about optics, and the optics for continuing to back Kavanaugh stink for Senate Republicans.

    IMO they are clearly looking for a back door to throw him out of in order to rid themselves of a problem that should have been discovered and addressed in vetting. Frankly, he never should have been nominated. A less chaotic (read: actually functioning) White House would never have put his name up for the nomination in the first place.

  17. Andre Kenji de Sousa says:

    @Michael Reynolds: Conn Carroll, Communications Director for Mike Lee and former staffer for Heritage said that Grassley did not know about the New Yorker article.

  18. Hal_10000 says:


    Yeah, that’s kind of where my thinking is headed too. I think the GOP should be encouraging him to withdraw. He can say he wants to spare his reputation and his family and make the Democrats look bad into the bargain. But at this point, fair of unfair, he’s damaged goods. Any decision he makes is going to be blasted by the Democrats as the “work of a rapist”. It’s not fair but then again, what happened to Garland wasn’t fair either. Give the Democrats their scalp, nominate Barrett.

  19. Kari Q says:


    As HarvardLaw92 said, this is about optics and the optics are: “Republicans don’t care if a man commits attempted rape or sexual assault. They don’t care. A man can assault all the women he wants, and they don’t care. They won’t even bother to find out if it’s true because they don’t care.”

  20. Michael Reynolds says:

    @Kari Q:
    Yep. And the bulk of them call themselves Christians.

  21. Kari Q says:

    @Andre Kenji de Sousa:

    Grassley did not know about the New Yorker article.

    But did he know about the allegation? Or did he just not know that it was about to become public?

  22. Hal_10000 says:

    PS – The Republican *won’t* give in, of course. Because sunk costs. Because it would mean giving the Democrats a win. And mostly because of the President, who might sulk for three months. But that’s stupid. Kavanaugh is not once-in-a-generation genius legal mind. He’s a federalist drone and there’s plenty more where he came from. And there’s nothing the Democrats would be able to do to stop the ramming Barrett through a lame-duck session.

    Someone on the GOP needs to approach him and say, “It’s not fair, but you’re still a judge. Let’s end this before your name gets dragged even further through the mud.”

  23. Andre Kenji de Sousa says:


    IMO they are clearly looking for a back door to throw him out of in order to rid themselves of a problem that should have been discovered and addressed in vetting. Frankly, he never should have been nominated.

    Have you heard something about these allegations before? Or anything else that would make him a bad nominee?

  24. Just nutha ignint cracker says:

    comment withdrawn by me.

  25. HarvardLaw92 says:


    From a legal perspective, Barrett is a far more distasteful option than Kavanaugh is. She would be difficult to attack in confirmation hearings, however, I agree.

  26. Michael Reynolds says:

    Oh, no, we definitely don’t want Dear Leader cutting and running, we want a toilet twitter tantrum. There’s no great fun in just watching Trump back down – OK it’s a little bit fun – it’s much more entertaining watching him dig the hole deeper. Maybe he could hold a rally and stick ‘toad’ into various women’s faces, that might do it.

    I have to tell you, after many false starts, I believe the Year of the Woman is actually here. I think this time it’s not just PR. It’s finally occurred to them that they aren’t a minority, they’re a majority, and they have all the raw power they need. If they want to, they run this country. Kavanaugh is gone or the GOP is a fringe party composed of guys who hate bitchez.

  27. HarvardLaw92 says:

    @Andre Kenji de Sousa:

    Have you heard something about these allegations before? Or anything else that would make him a bad nominee?

    For better or worse, in the court of public opinion he has been convicted as an attempted rapist, in a climate where empowered women are toppling titans right & left and the GOP has a staggering unfavorable rating among likely women voters. They’re even losing registered Republican women at this point.

    Nothing else needs to be said. He’s poisonous for the party going into an election in which they already stand to be slaughtered even without the baggage he brings to the table.

    Legally speaking, he’s a relatively less objectionable option for me, as he’s essentially much more moderate from the perspective of what his likely votes on the court would be. That having been said, none of that matters. He has become the cudgel Democrats are (rightfully, in my opinion) using to extract their pound of flesh in payback for Garland. In short, he’s now being used as a weapon in a political battle that is, at best, only tangentially related to his suitability for the court. Republicans will lose that battle, they know it, and whatever else might be said about them, they aren’t stupid. They know that the best course of action here is to rid themselves of the problem, and do so in a way that draws a nice, bright line between themselves and Kavanaugh the Rapist, before the midterms.

    It is now entirely about politics.

  28. Michael Reynolds says:

    @Andre Kenji de Sousa:
    Unimpeachable sources. If you can’t trust Republicans. . . well, you can’t.

  29. Modulo Myself says:

    What’s incontrovertible about the article is that the Republicans knew last week and only tried to hurry the nomination up. And if Kavanaugh was aware of these allegations last week and was then content to let them be ignored, what was he going to do if they were revealed after he was confirmed? To me, he fits the profile of a high-functioning alcoholic who takes bad risks. You can argue that he wasn’t who he was at 18, but you can’t argue about that who he was last week.

  30. Michael Reynolds says:

    @Modulo Myself:
    That is an excellent point. So excellent I will probably pretend I came up with it.

  31. Modulo Myself says:

    @Michael Reynolds:
    If this point makes it into a long-lasting YA series full of endless royalties, I’m contacting my lawyer, Michael Avenatti.

  32. Lit3Bolt says:

    What are the odds this was leaked by anti-Kavanaugh forces in the Federalist Society?

    If I were a competing candidate, I’d look for ways to kneecap the competition.

    I’ve heard there have been lots of behind the scenes maneuvering to nominate someone new before time runs out. Except now you have to convince Mitch, Trump, and Kavanaugh himself.

  33. Kathy says:

    Given it’s El Cheeto Loco and his team of wannabe Keystone Cops, they can still manage to make things worse. Much worse.

  34. Gustopher says:

    Can we just all agree that being an entitled drunken frat boy (or a entitled drunken frat boy wannabe, in high school) should disqualify everyone from high office, elected or appointed?

    Also, Georgetown Prep really just prepares boys to be sex offenders.

  35. Andre Kenji de Sousa says:

    @Michael Reynolds: I would not trust them. But if Carroll is saying that then this is the official position of the GOP in the Senate.

  36. Andre Kenji de Sousa says:


    What are the odds this was leaked by anti-Kavanaugh forces in the Federalist Society?

    Little. Basically because I don’t think that there are anti-Kavanaugh forces in the Federalist Society. They seem to be pretty cohesive, everyone that has some relation to them seems to be supporting Kavanaugh to larger point than it would be necessary.
    @Kari Q:

    But did he know about the allegation?

    They are saying both about the allegation and the article:

  37. Franklin says:


    Everyone who could verify her story said that it didn’t happen.

    Well you’re wrong about “everyone” and you’re wrong about what they said.

  38. Andre Kenji de Sousa says:

    @Kari Q:

    But did he know about the allegation?

    They are saying both about the allegation and the article:

    But Yashar Ali from New York magazine said that other outlets(Including NBC, Washington Post and New York Times) knew about the allegations.

  39. JKB says:

    @Hal_10000: I think the GOP should be encouraging him to withdraw.

    Kavanaugh has no option but to continue. Whether the White House pulls his nomination is another thing. But Kavanaugh has to see this through given the damage Democrats have done to him. That and he will be issuing decisions on appeals over Democrat big government initiatives for decades in his current job.

    As for Trump, he knows that Democrats will do this to any nominee. Lies and rumors is the Democrat way. So if Kavanaugh really is clean, Trump is right to run this out in a total reveal of Democrat perfidy.

    Most of the complaints are about how the nomination should be pulled due to the chaos it is causing. But Trump thrives on chaos. And this one has Democrats and their media operatives exposing the filthy underbelly of DC Society and the prep school debauchery of the “elite’s” kids.

  40. Michael Reynolds says:


    As for Trump, he knows that Democrats will do this to any nominee. Lies and rumors is the Democrat way. So if Kavanaugh really is clean, Trump is right to run this out in a total reveal of Democrat perfidy.

    That is just precious. I’m going to have to bookmark that.

  41. Kari Q says:


    Well, that’s Conn reporting what someone else says that Grassley’s spokesman said. I’m still taking it with a grain of salt.

    According to Yashir Ali, NBC, the New York Times, and the Washington Post were all working the story as well. If so, and Grassley still didn’t know, it’s because he didn’t want to.

    The whole story still makes far more sense if at least some Republicans knew and wanted to vote before the story came out.

    For the record: I have no idea if Kavanaugh did or didn’t. This morning I was leaning toward probably not. Now? I really don’t know. And yes, that is sufficient reason to deny someone a seat on the Supreme Court.

  42. Mikey says:

    @TM01: A Trumpist–a supporter of the least honest man to ever hold the Presidency–whining about how others don’t care about facts? Bahahahahaha…irony is well and truly dead.

  43. Hal_10000 says:

    What’s incontrovertible about the article is that the Republicans knew last week and only tried to hurry the nomination up

    No, that’s not incontrovertible. Farrow puts two statement of fact together to imply that. But there’s no connective tissue between them. Anonymous sources claim Republicans knew. Then Republicans tried to get the nomination through, which they’ve been doing for weeks. And the fact is that the GOP agreed to push the nomination back to hear out the Ford matter, which they didn’t have to do and pushed it back to the end of the week after she claimed to be afraid of flying. So this seems weak to me.

    In fact, the entire piece is extremely weak. I’ve been thinking about this over night and while it’s not nothing it’s next to nothing. Take a step back, take a deep breath, put aside your reflexive hatred of Republicans and assumption that everything they do is evil. Distill this down to the facts:

    A woman Kavanaugh knew in college, after thinking about it and consulting with her attorney, is pretty sure it was him who waved his penis in her face at a drunken frat party. Granted, she didn’t actually see his face; she remembers him pulling up his pants afterward and someone saying he did it. And the one corroborating witness heard about it third hand. And everyone else involved either has no recollection or denies it. But … she’s pretty certain.

    That’s it? No wonder other outlets didn’t run the story. If these allegations were made about a Democrat, every single person on this board would be deeply skeptical.

    I’m still half-convinced the GOP should just ditch Kavanaugh and ram Barrett through. But let’s not pretend this a bombshell.

  44. george says:

    In this case I’m quite happy to say “I told you so”, that if the first accusation was true further ones would appear.

    One accusation without evidence doesn’t hold much weight – memory is just too faulty to rely on it. But multiple accusations do – multiple false memory concerning the same person is extremely improbable.

  45. steve says:

    “And still no one takes my assault allegation against Doug seriously”

    Please post your therapist’s notes.

  46. MarkedMan says:

    “She didn’t come forward with it,” Mayer said Monday on NBC’s “Today.” “What happened was, the classmates at Yale were talking to each other about it, they were emailing about it. We’ve seen the emails, back in July before Christine Blasey Ford came forward, and eventually the word of it spread.”

    “It spread to the Senate. It spread to the media,” she continued. “And [we] reached out to her. After giving it really careful consideration for six days, she decided to talk to [Ronan Farrow].”

    Multiple people exchanging emails about the same story and then the New Yorker reaches out to her and she confirms it. Doesn’t seem like something that can be simply swept aside.

    Look, unlike others, even if he had done this I wouldn’t say it was fatal. (I would vote against him for other reasons though.) But you have to look at how he reacts. Is he sorry? Does he apologize? I’m skeptical of apologies that come out only after someone is caught, but did he ever confide to someone that he felt remorse for his crude behavior? If, instead, he calls this entire emailing group of people liars or delusional like he did with Ford, if he starts manufacturing some crazy conspiracy theory like he did with Ford, then it just reinforces… well, it reinforces he is the type of person who lies and obfuscates if he thinks he can keep it to a “he said/she said”.

  47. Just nutha ignint cracker says:

    @Gustopher: Well, I’d go with that, but I do need to note that it really restricts the pool of people government usually goes to for leadership people.