One Year Later, There’s New Evidence Against Brett Kavanaugh

A new look at the allegations against Justice Brett Kavanaugh uncovers some new evidence.

New York Times reporters Robin Pogrebin and Kate Kelly are out with a new book titled The Education of Brett Kavanaugh which, obviously, concentrates primarily on the sexual assault allegations against Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh and the hearings that gripped Washington and the nation last year at about this time. In today’s Times, part of that book is excerpted and it discusses new allegations or at least new details about one of the allegations that was made against Kavanaugh but which was not brought up during the hearings.

Specifically, I am referring to allegations made by Deborah Ramirez that were first brought to light by a piece in The New Yorker by Ronan Farrow and Jane Meyer just prior to the start of the hearings that focused on the allegations made by Dr. Christine Blasey Ford regarding an incident that allegedly took place while Kavanaugh and Blasey Ford were in High School. The Ramirez incident, by contrast, allegedly took place more than a year later when the two attended Yale University. Those allegations were not discussed at the Kavanaugh hearings and were not fully investigated by the F.B.I.

Now, Pogrebin and Kelly say they’ve uncovered additional allegations about events at Yale that tend to corroborate Ramirez’s allegations:

But while we found Dr. Ford’s allegations credible during a 10-month investigation, Ms. Ramirez’s story could be more fully corroborated. During his Senate testimony, Mr. Kavanaugh said that if the incident Ms. Ramirez described had occurred, it would have been “the talk of campus.” Our reporting suggests that it was.

At least seven people, including Ms. Ramirez’s mother, heard about the Yale incident long before Mr. Kavanaugh was a federal judge. Two of those people were classmates who learned of it just days after the party occurred, suggesting that it was discussed among students at the time.

We also uncovered a previously unreported story about Mr. Kavanaugh in his freshman year that echoes Ms. Ramirez’s allegation. A classmate, Max Stier, saw Mr. Kavanaugh with his pants down at a different drunken dorm party, where friends pushed his penis into the hand of a female student. Mr. Stier, who runs a nonprofit organization in Washington, notified senators and the F.B.I. about this account, but the F.B.I. did not investigate and Mr. Stier has declined to discuss it publicly. (We corroborated the story with two officials who have communicated with Mr. Stier.)

Mr. Kavanaugh did not speak to us because we could not agree on terms for an interview. But he has denied Dr. Ford’s and Ms. Ramirez’s allegations, and declined to answer our questions about Mr. Stier’s account.

(…)

Ms. Ramirez’s legal team gave the F.B.I. a list of at least 25 individuals who may have had corroborating evidence. But the bureau — in its supplemental background investigation — interviewed none of them, though we learned many of these potential witnesses tried in vain to reach the F.B.I. on their own.

Two F.B.I. agents interviewed Ms. Ramirez, telling her that they found her “credible.” But the Republican-controlled Senate had imposed strict limits on the investigation. “‘We have to wait to get authorization to do anything else,'” Bill Pittard, one of Ms. Ramirez’s lawyers, recalled the agents saying. “It was almost a little apologetic.”

Senator Sheldon Whitehouse, Democrat of Rhode Island and member of the Judiciary Committee, later said, “I would view the Ramirez allegations as not having been even remotely investigated.” Other Democrats agreed.

Ultimately, Senator Charles E. Grassley, Republican of Iowa and chairman of the Judiciary Committee, concluded, “There is no corroboration of the allegations made by Dr. Ford or Ms. Ramirez.” Mr. Kavanaugh was confirmed on Oct. 6, 2018, by a vote of 50-48, the closest vote for a Supreme Court justice in more than 130 years

There’s much more in the piece at the TImes, far more than can be fairly excerpted here, so I recommend taking a look at it if you’re at all interested. In the end, though, this is all pretty much academic. Fairly or not, the F.B.I’s hands were tied during the course of their follow-up allegation to the point where they were not authorized to look any further into the Ramirez allegations than they did, and that appears to have been by design. This was Obviously, Republicans on the Senate Judiciary Committee did not want to dig too far into the details of either the Blasey Ford allegations or any of the other allegations against Kavanaugh. This is why, for example, the committee specifically refused to even consider hearing from any of the other potential witnesses to the Blasey Ford incident or to even consider allowing Ramirez or anyone else to testify regarding other allegations.

At this point, of course, all of this is rather academic. Justice Kavanaugh is on the court essentially for the rest of his life if he so chooses. At the same time, though, it seems clear that the investigation that took place after the initial allegations against him became place was at best cursory and certainly didn’t go into the detail that it should have under the circumstances. This makes it somewhat ironic, then, that the F.B.I. is honoring the team that conducted that investigation, the same team that was operating with its hands tied behind its back.

This news comes out just about two months after a competing book about the Kavanaugh confirmation is also being released. This book, Justice On Trial: The Kavanaugh Confirmation and the Future of the Supreme Court was written by Mollie Hemingway, a writer and editor at The Federalist and Carrie Severino, who works for a conservative organization called the Judicial Crisis Network. Obviously Hemingway and Severino come at the hearing from a conservative point of view and are largely sympathetic to Justice Kavanaugh and dismissive of the allegations against him. Most recently, the two published a piece at The Federalist claiming that Blasey Ford’s father supported Justice Kavanaugh’s confirmation notwithstanding the charges his daughter made against him. Whatever relevance that might have to all of this.

In any case, how you evaluate all of this will depend on your view of the Kavanaugh confirmation and the allegations made against him. As I stated at the time, prior to the time that the allegations came out, I was willing to let him slide into confirmation. Trump had won the Presidency and the Republicans controlled the Senate. They were entitled to get their Justice confirmed. What changed my mind wasn’t so much the allegations by any of these women, which were not fully substantiated due to the confined nature of the investigations, but the manner in which Kavanaugh responded to them, which I found to be something not suited to the kind of temperament that made a good Justice. All that being said, though, Kavanaugh was confirmed and, so far at least, has been a fairly conventional conservative on the Court. Whether the allegations will continue to follow him will depend on how history handles them.

Update: Two things worth noting about the New York Times report that started all this and which was the subject of my post yesterday:

1. In its initial report, the Times neglected to mention that Max Stier, who claims to have witnessed Kavanaugh engage in behavior similar to that Ramirez alleged at a different Yale party during the same year, was a member of Bill Clinton’s defense team during the Lewinsky impeachment scandal. Kavanaugh, of course, worked for Ken Starr, at the time. While this doesn’t mean Stier made up the story it is relevant in evaluating his veracity; and,

2. The woman alleged to have been the victim in the second event at Yale declined to speak to the Times and friends of hers told the reporters who wrote the story that neither she nor they had any recollection of such an event happening.

The Times story has been updated to add at least the second point but both are relevant to determining the veracity of the new claims.

Update #2: Here’s the Times correction:

Editors’ Note: Sept. 15, 2019

An earlier version of this article, which was adapted from a forthcoming book, did not include one element of the book’s account regarding an assertion by a Yale classmate that friends of Brett Kavanaugh pushed his penis into the hand of a female student at a drunken dorm party. The book reports that the female student declined to be interviewed and friends say that she does not recall the incident. That information has been added to the article.

FILED UNDER: Congress, Law and the Courts, Supreme Court, US Politics,
Doug Mataconis
About Doug Mataconis
Doug holds a B.A. in Political Science from Rutgers University and J.D. from George Mason University School of Law. He joined the staff of OTB in May 2010. Before joining OTB, he wrote at Below The BeltwayThe Liberty Papers, and United Liberty Follow Doug on Twitter | Facebook

Comments

  1. JKB says:

    Well, as Mollie Hemingway notes on Twitter, the book quietly reveals, but the article omits, that the alleged victim named by Max Stier, not just any runner of a non-profit but also Clinton defense lawyer, denies any memory of the alleged incident. Hard to investigate what the victim denies remembering happening.

    The New York Times is a sad, sad party rag these days.

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  2. DrDaveT says:

    Obviously Hemingway and Severino come at the hearing from a conservative point of view and are largely sympathetic to Justice Kavanaugh and dismissive of the allegations against him.

    Just to be clear here, Doug — are you saying that the “conservative point of view” is to automatically dismiss allegations of sexual misconduct against men? Or that conservatives condone sexual assault against women? Or that conservatives care more about getting additional conservatives onto the Supreme Court than they do about justice or character?

    I’m not trying to be snarky here — I’m trying to understand what you mean when you say ‘conservative’. If you had said “Republican point of view”, for example, it would have passed without comment.

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  3. Jay L Gischer says:

    Add me to the list of people who thought Kavanaugh’s reaction to all the stuff was much more of a problem. I didn’t like the stuff he was accused of, but all of it happened a long time ago.

    But his reaction was that of someone who is still in it. I cannot expect anything like a fair treatment from Justice Kavanaugh should I bring a case before SCOTUS that makes it apparent that I am a liberal.

    And considering my attitude, and Doug’s attitude – that this is a done deal and nothing is going to pry him off the court – it’s easy to understand why someone might decided they were going to just deny all that stuff happened.

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  4. MarkedMan says:

    Add me to the list of people who feel that Kavanaugh’s obvious lies and belligerence in the Senate chamber proved him unfit and unworthy of this judgeship much more than any drunken behavior of three decades before. When someone lies in such an in-your-face and angry fashion they are saying “I have powerful friends and so don’t need to pretend to have any respect for you or for the institution. I can get away with this and so will rub it in your face” This one thing is all a Senator needed to know to vote against him. It should have been 100 to 1 against and the fact that not a single Republican had the morals or courage to do their sworn duty is all you need to know about the modern Republican Party.

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  5. Mister Bluster says:

    @JKB:..sad, sad party rag…

    Your hero President Puke has bragged about sexually molesting women, “you can do anything…grab them by the pussy!”
    Yet he has your unflinching veneration.
    That’s all anyone needs to know about you.

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  6. Teve says:

    I started to say ‘I wonder how long it’s going to take for Republican women like Tomi lahren to call her a lying slut’, but the story came out yesterday so I’m sure it’s already happened.

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  7. Guarneri says:

    @JKB:

    “The book isn’t released until Tuesday, but Mollie Hemingway got a copy, and she writes on Twitter: “The book notes, quietly, that the woman Max Stier named as having been supposedly victimized by Kavanaugh and friends denies any memory of the alleged event.” Omitting this fact from the New York Times story is one of the worst cases of journalistic malpractice in recent memory.”

    Either she remembers it or not; she’s either willing to go on record or not . These guys didn’t disclose that, but they are perfectly willing to traffic in innuendo. No one should be surprised at this sort of NYT garbage anymore. “No news fit to print, just a steaming pile of ………”

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  8. Just nutha ignint cracker says:

    @DrDaveT: All three. And I still have my old Vast Right Wing Conspiracy membership card from the early 90s.

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  9. michael reynolds says:

    @Guarneri:
    @JKB:
    Two brain dead #Cult45 members don’t trust newspapers. 12,000 Trump lies. #Greenland #Sharpie #IHerebyOrder #MexicoWillPay #BiggestInauguralEver, blah blah blah blah blah and these twin cretins think they have a handle on the truth?

    Two liars in service of a white supremacist criminal and traitor. Now go ahead, @Guarneri and tell me Trump’s not a traitor, and I’ll ask you THE QUESTION you flee from.

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  10. michael reynolds says:

    For those not aware, the Mollie Hemingway referenced above is a Fox Bot with a competing book. So she’s corrupt by virtue of working for Pravda, and unreliable because she’s a competitor for book dollars.

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  11. Teve says:

    Ms. Ramirez’s legal team gave the F.B.I. a list of at least 25 individuals who may have had corroborating evidence. But the bureau — in its supplemental background investigation — interviewed none of them, though we learned many of these potential witnesses tried in vain to reach the F.B.I. on their own.

    Two F.B.I. agents interviewed Ms. Ramirez, telling her that they found her “credible.” But the Republican-controlled Senate had imposed strict limits on the investigation. “‘We have to wait to get authorization to do anything else,’” Bill Pittard, one of Ms. Ramirez’s lawyers, recalled the agents saying. “It was almost a little apologetic.”

    Jesus.

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  12. Jim says:

    Allegations are not evidence.

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  13. michael reynolds says:

    @Jim:
    Actually allegations backed by contemporaneous notes or accounts are evidence. And obviously statements made under oath are also evidence. They aren’t proof, but they are evidence. And there are a whole lot of people doing time in prison right now on less evidence than has surfaced regarding Kavanaugh.

    Would I convict on what we’ve seen? Probably not. But it’s factually incorrect to suggest there’s no evidence.

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  14. Scott F. says:

    What changed my mind wasn’t so much the allegations by any of these women, which were not fully substantiated due to the confined nature of the investigations, but the manner in which Kavanaugh responded to them, which I found to be something not suited to the kind of temperament that made a good Justice.

    By temperament, do you mean a willingness to commit perjury in a Congressional hearing? Michael Cohen is in prison for that, while Brett Kavanaugh sits on the Supreme Court.

    And the response is “Nothing to see here.” History will not be kind.

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  15. Mikey says:

    @DrDaveT:

    the “conservative point of view” is to automatically dismiss allegations of sexual misconduct against men? Or that conservatives condone sexual assault against women? Or that conservatives care more about getting additional conservatives onto the Supreme Court than they do about justice or character?

    Your only mistakes here were using “or” rather than “and,” and using question marks rather than periods.

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  16. PJ says:

    @Scott F.:
    At this rate, the future will be short and there will not be much time for history to not be kind.

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  17. Hal_10000 says:

    What changed my mind wasn’t so much the allegations by any of these women, which were not fully substantiated due to the confined nature of the investigations, but the manner in which Kavanaugh responded to them, which I found to be something not suited to the kind of temperament that made a good Justice.

    See, I find this argument, raised by several people in this comment thread, to be circular. It’s the old “only a real witch denies being a witch”. How exactly did you expect him to respond when, right before the hearing, Michael Avennati came out with his insane claim that Kavanaugh was running a drug and rape ring in high school? We have zero allegations of anything beyond early college. Everything since then has shown him to be of perfectly acceptable character. And suddenly his life is turned upside down because people are mad about Garland. What would people have said if he hadn’t been angry? I guarantee we would have heard, “Oh, look how cold and collected he is. If I was accused, I’d be angry.” Is this how it works now? We accused someone of insane things based on rumors and then regard his angry reaction as disqualifying?

    Ultimately, what did we have here? A story from high school from one witness (who was, TBF, credible). A story from college that the victim herself wasn’t entirely clear on and was “corroborated” by people who heard rumors about it. A crazy story from a shyster lawyer about gang rapes that the witness herself backed away from.

    And I would also agree with the above: IF the supposed victim denies Stiers’ allegation — and I don’t know that she does yet — it’s serious journalistic malpractice to leave that out.

    I said at the time that I didn’t think Kavanaugh was worth the fight. That he should have been withdrawn and the next name on the Federalist List put forward. But that doesn’t mean what happened was right. And that doesn’t mean the twisted logic, crazy conspiracy theories and outright lunacy were justified.

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  18. Teve says:

    Kavanaugh could have admitted he did sketchy things, blamed it on his youth and booze, and apologized to anyone he may have wronged. But that wasn’t his response. His response was bitches be lying, Hillary sucks, and I’ll get you people back for this.

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  19. OzarkHillbilly says:

    @Hal_10000:

    I said at the time that I didn’t think Kavanaugh was worth the fight. That he should have been withdrawn and the next name on the Federalist List put forward. But that doesn’t mean what happened was right. And that doesn’t mean the twisted logic, crazy conspiracy theories and outright lunacy were justified.

    But enough about Kavanaugh, why do you think the FBI investigation was kneecapped before it even began? I mean, assuming you wanted to have hearings based on actual facts.

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  20. Kari Q says:

    @Hal_10000:

    How did I expect him to respond? I had no expectations. But if he had responded to Ford by saying “I don’t remember any incident like that. I don’t think that’s something I would ever have done. But if I ever did anything to hurt or frighten you, then I’m sorry.”

    Something along those lines would have pretty much ended the story. Instead, he threatened vengeance on all who dared to question him. Good judicial temperament there.

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  21. Steve V says:

    @Teve: Agree.

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  22. michael reynolds says:

    “I honestly don’t remember this incident, but to be clear I drank far too much as a young man and I did things I’m ashamed of. So while I do not recall this incident, if I did what Dr. Ford claims – and I’m not denying the possibility – then I am terribly sorry and offer her my full apology. I can’t undo the past. What I can do, what I hope I’ve done, and what I will continue to do, is learn from my past mistakes and apply what I’ve learned. I’m not that person anymore.”

    That’s what any decent person could have said. Instead it was a series of angry lies, accusations and self-pity. That decision to go into furious bluster while just flatly lying about secondary matters, is what a man without moral center, a man with poor judgment does.

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  23. Scott F. says:

    @Hal_10000:
    How did I expect Kavanaugh to respond? As a nominee for SCOTUS, I expected him to not commit perjury.

    And to be clear, neither Ford nor Ramirez need irrefutable corroboration to know with certainty that Kavanaugh lied to Congress in his testimony about the yearbook. It was not enough for him to deny any legal definition sexual misconduct. He had to deny the sordid, drunken, misogynist way he carried himself at school. To keep his image clean enough for the evangelicals (for whom he needn’t have bothered for they’d love him anyway), he lied… in sworn testimony before Congress… which is a crime.

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  24. Modulo Myself says:

    ‘Killer Qs and 151’ was what a yearbook entry by one of Kavanaugh’s friend read. Avenatti’s story was a lie, but it wasn’t crazy. Bros drug women all the time. His buddy was bragging about it in print. Any decent person would have had some perspective on their past. There’s ways to talk about who you were without screaming about the Clintons. If you’re remembered or misremembered for taking your pants off and shoving your dick in women’s faces, it’s not slander or a dirty trick by the Democrats. It’s who you were. More importantly, anyone as an adult who acts like that in public is a psycho in private. He showed exactly who he is. The fact that his rage clicked with lots of supposedly-normal conservatives showed exactly who they are.

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  25. Teve says:

    @Modulo Myself: the only 151 I know of is Bacardi. Is that what was being discussed?

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  26. Modulo Myself says:

    @Teve:

    I’m assuming it was Quaaludes and Bacardi. High school boys have pretty bad taste in booze, as I remember from bouts with Jager or Goldschlager’s.

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  27. Kari Q says:

    @Teve:

    I was in high school about that time, and that’s what it meant to us. Of course, I went to a public school on the other side of the country, but sometimes teen culture transcends locality.

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  28. smintheus says:

    It also depends on whether Kavanaugh is impeached or indicted for perjury. How is that “academic”?

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  29. smintheus says:

    @Jim: Testimony is quintessentially evidence. People are convicted of crimes in court often based solely upon testimony.

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  30. Guarneri says:

    @michael reynolds:

    Excellent commentary. From an educated, thoughtful perspective. Natch.

    snicker

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  31. Guarneri says:

    @michael reynolds:

    Trump was giving Putin the nuclear codes. Its just so obvious. Don’t question me. Just run with it, Michael. Just run with it. Your tormented soul clearly needs this to be so.

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  32. Xenos says:

    Just be clear, then, that if this nomination can not be subject to further review, it will be acceptable for the Democrats, also, to
    – cover up a nominee´s history of drunkenness and assault,
    – allow a nominee to perjure himself or herself in he course of a nomination hearing,
    – to interfere with the FBI background investigation of a nominee.

    If these are indeed the new rules, I better not hear you bitch when the shoe is on the other foot.

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  33. Xenos says:

    @Xenos:
    and who paid for the tickets, for the club membership, for the gambling debts?

    Kavenaugh is 10X the corrupt mess he accused Clinton of being.

    Good to see you are cool with that.

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  34. Monala says:

    @Hal_10000: if Democrats were doing this simply because they were mad about Garland, you would have seen them react this way with Gorusch, who actually took Garland’s seat. They didn’t, because however much Democrats may dislike Gorusch’s beliefs, he was qualified for the position and doesn’t have Kavanaugh’s shady history.

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  35. mike shupp says:

    The FBI is a corrupt bunch of thugs who tailor their investigations to provide “evidence” that the White House wants. Every American conservative knows this, and can point to investigations conducted by Comey and Mueller to prove the matter.

    The Times is graciously confirming for liberals that this is still the Bureau’s way of operating.

    And there have been enough other stories over the years … perhaps we should think a bit about closing down the American Stassi and replacing it with some organization less subject to political meddling.

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  36. Lounsbury says:

    @JKB: You are a pathetic Bolshevik and have that much credibility with your posts

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  37. Lounsbury says:

    @mike shupp: As someone who lived in the DDR (briefly) when the real Stasi existed, it’s rather shocking the degeneracy of the ‘conservative’ (in fact the radical reactionary degenerates) discourse in the USA, not to mention the degeneracy of their corrupt neo-Bolshevik thinking and discourse.

    Of course the complaints that the FBI did not turn into a political weapon in those instances are in fact the very illustration of the non-Stasiness of the FBI.

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  38. Just a Piccolo says:

    The NYT issued a “correction” that the alleged victim declined to be interviewed and doesn’t even remember the alleged incident.

    And FYI, while this particular “incident” didn’t come up at the hearings, Senators knew about it but dismissed it because of lack of credbility.

    I see that Mr. Reynolds inexplicably, blindly believes whatever is printed in a newspaper for some reason, while insulting those who raise questions. As if the NYT isn’t pushing an agenda to attack our institutions and delegitimaize the court. But ok.

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  39. Please see the update to this post which makes note of (1) potential bias on the part of Max Stier, and (2) the fact that the Times updated the report to indicate that the woman allegedly involved in the incident that Stier disclosed declined to speak to reporters and her friends have said that neither she nor they have any recollection of any such event having happened.

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  40. michael reynolds says:

    @Guarneri:
    I predicted long ago that you wouldn’t be able to answer THE QUESTION and that in the end you’d simply accept Trump’s treason. You’re very predictable. Cult members are. Kind of goes with being in a cult. #Cult45

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  41. Here is the text of the Times correction:

    Editors’ Note: Sept. 15, 2019

    An earlier version of this article, which was adapted from a forthcoming book, did not include one element of the book’s account regarding an assertion by a Yale classmate that friends of Brett Kavanaugh pushed his penis into the hand of a female student at a drunken dorm party. The book reports that the female student declined to be interviewed and friends say that she does not recall the incident. That information has been added to the article.

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  42. Guarneri says:

    News Item

    The New York Times doing moonwalk away from Kavenaugh story as fast as they can. (The notion that it would stand up only occurred to those afflicted with TDS.). Outside the Beltway once again disgraces itself with anything Orange Man Bad float of NYT story. (“A new look at the allegations against Justice Brett Kavanaugh uncovers some new evidence.” My Arse. )

    In other news, angry old man and frequent OTB commenter Michael Reynolds continues to conduct novel experiment. Does bald head look better with tin foil hat??

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  43. wr says:

    @mike shupp: In this case, the FBI was directly ordered not to investigate by the Justice Department. It has nothing to do with your little stormtrooper fantasies or deep state fixations. This was out in public at the time — the FBI said that they could only interview those people and follow those leads that Justice asked for.

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  44. mike shupp says:

    @Lounsbury: I’m pleased you escaped the Stasi. As for the FBI’s status as a quasi-Stasi agency, I’d point to the Palmer raids against the Reds and the Wobblies back in the 1920’s and J Edgar Hoover’s vendetta against Martin Luther King in the 1950’s and 1960’s. It seems clear that at least occasionally the Bureau has been directed towards ideological and political ends rather than simple crime stoppage. In retrospect, these are not the most pleasant pages in the FBI’s history.

    @wr: My chief “little storm trooper fantasy” is that the FBI really ought to conduct open-ended investigations aimed at unearthing all relevant facts of a case, rather than conduct partial investigations which produce “results” which meet the political goals of the White House and other Executive Branch agencies. I’m sorry that this sickens you — but I hope your illness continues to worsen.

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  45. Alex says:

    “Mr. Kavanaugh did not speak to us because we could not agree on terms for an interview. But he has denied Dr. Ford’s and Ms. Ramirez’s allegations, and declined to answer our questions about Mr. Stier’s account.”

    What can we call this? People are watching.
    Thank you for the post. Please keep me updated.

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