While serious confusion remains about the scope of the FBI investigation into the allegations of sexual assault three women have made against U.S. Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh throughout his confirmation process, increasing focus is being put on whether Kavanaugh was honest in his testimony under oath to the Senate Judiciary Committee last week and in other public statements regarding his behavior during high school and college.
When asked during a "60 Minutes" interview that aired on Sunday night whether it would be disqualifying if it is determined that Kavanaugh lied in any way to the committee during his testimony, Sen. Jeff Flake (R-Ariz.)—whose reluctance forced the GOP to concede to an FBI probe—responded simply, "Oh yes."
"If Kavanaugh is shown to have lied to the committee, nomination's over?" Scott Pelley of CBS's "60 Minutes" asked Flake, an Arizona Republican, and Coons, a Delaware Democrat, who are friends.
"Oh yes," Flake said, nodding.
Coons added, "I would think so."
Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) sent a letter to Judiciary Committee Chairman Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) on Saturday declaring that in addition to investigating the sexual assault claims by Dr. Christine Blasey Ford, Deborah Ramirez, and Julie Swetnick—which Kavanaugh repeatedly has denied—the FBI "should also examine the veracity of his testimony."
"I witnessed him respond to a semi-hostile remark, not by defusing the situation, but by throwing his beer in the man's face and starting a fight that ended with one of our mutual friends in jail."
—Kavanaugh's Yale classmateDespite Kavanaugh's impassioned claims last Thursday that although he drank beer as a teenager and during college, he never consumed so much alcohol that he could not recall what happened and never harassed or assaulted anyone, North Carolina State University associate professor Charles Ludington, a classmate of his from Yale University, plans to tell the FBI that during college, Kavanaugh was "a frequent drinker, and a heavy drinker," and when he drank, he often became "belligerent and aggressive."
In a statement Ludington said he plans to deliver to the FBI on Monday, he says that Kavanaugh's remarks to Fox News and the Judiciary Committee have been "a blatant mischaracterization by Brett himself of his drinking at Yale." For example, Ludington says, "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 and starting a fight that ended with one of our mutual friends in jail."
While Ford and Swetnick's allegations are from when they and Kavanaugh were high school students, Ramirez's allegations are from when she and Kavanaugh both attended Yale. Ludington's statement, which calls into question whether Kavanaugh was truthful about his drinking habits during those years, also says, "If he lied about his past actions on national television, and more especially while speaking under oath in front of the United States Senate, I believe those lies should have consequences."
We need a thorough, independent FBI investigation into claims of Brett Kavanaugh’s sexual misconduct. We can’t limit witnesses. We can’t limit the scope. The GOP is more interested in getting this over with than in getting to the truth. America deserves better. https://t.co/qyfdSs6CpO
— Elizabeth Warren (@SenWarren) September 30, 2018
In a Politico op-ed published on Monday titled "Why the FBI Should Investigate Boofing," Brian Fallon and Christopher Kang, co-founders of the progressive group Demand Justice, write that it is vital for the FBI to probe not only the allegations, but also the veracity of Kavanaugh's remarks to the senators while under oath—including when lawmakers asked him to explain inside jokes and references from his high school yearbook.
As Fallon and Kang point out:
Kavanaugh's answers to the Senate about the meaning of these yearbook references defy credulity—and directly undermine his credibility. They suggest he is unwilling to admit the truth about even the smallest of matters.
...anyone prone to such casual lying is not fit to serve a lifetime appointment on the nation's highest court.
After all, if Kavanaugh can't be trusted to tell the truth about even the minor stuff, why should we trust him on anything else?
In his column on Monday, The Week's Ryan Cooper argues that Democrats must not only push for a thorough investigation but be ready to go further if it is found that the nominee lied under oath. Cooper writes:
Kavanaugh lied repeatedly in his testimony. It was often about small things, but he lied nonetheless. He claimed that "boofing," "Devil's Triangle," and "Beach Week Ralph Club" references in his high school yearbook entry were choir boy-level innocent jokes, not the vulgar sexual and alcohol references they very obviously are (including contemporary peers at the school). He insisted the other witnesses at the party said the assault did not happen, when what they actually said was they do not recall the event—a distinction a federal judge could not possibly miss. Most clearly of all, he insisted the "Renate Alumnius" reference was simply about being friends and not slut-shaming—ridiculous on its face, and flatly unbelievable given that a friend of his included this poem in his yearbook entry: "You need a date / and it's getting late / so don't hesitate / to call Renate."
It's all part of a pattern of Kavanaugh lying about his previous involvement in the Bush torture program and confirmation of extreme right-wing judges, and about Trump's nomination process. And given that much of the testimony relies on his assertion that he has never once been blackout drunk—well, it doesn't smell right.
Not only should Kavanaugh not be confirmed to the Supreme Court, Cooper charges—he should be further investigated and "if appropriate," barred from keeping his current seat on the D.C. Circuit Court. "The man is unfit to be judging any kind of legal proceeding," Cooper concludes, "let him proceed into right-wing martyrdom and the lifetime wingnut welfare sinecure that awaits him."
Calls for a broader investigation into Kavanaugh's past behavior comes amid mounting concerns about reports that GOP leaders and the White House are imposing "outrageous" limits on the FBI, which could enable Senate Republicans to use the probe as "political cover" to vote in favor of Kavanaugh's nomination. As of Sunday, according to multiple reports, the FBI had interviewed Ramirez but had not contacted Ford's legal team to arrange an interview. In addition, it seems the agency has no plans to look into Swetnick's serious allegations, which she detailed in a legal declaration last week.
While President Donald Trump claimed in a tweet on Saturday that NBC had "incorrectly reported" that he is "limiting" the FBI's interview list, named sources "with knowledge of the investigation" continue to warn, as CNN reported Monday, that the White House is "trying to make it as narrow as possible," which means that, among other things, "Kavanaugh's drinking history, which has come up in the allegations, is not part of the probe."
The ONLY reason the White House wouldn't let the @FBI interview relevant witnesses for the Kavanaugh investigation is because the White House is afraid of what the FBI will reveal.
If true, these limits scream Consciousness of Guilt.#KavanaughHearings https://t.co/2k5TOVJUKV
— Ted Lieu (@tedlieu) October 1, 2018