President Donald Trump’s Supreme Court nominee, Brett Kavanaugh testifies before the Senate Judiciary Committee on Capitol Hill in Washington, Thursday, Sept. 6, 2018, for the third day of his confirmation to replace retired Justice Anthony Kennedy. (AP Photo/Alex Brandon)
Ahead of a Thursday hearing regarding Christine Blasey Ford’s accusation of sexual assault against Brett Kavanaugh, the New Yorker has released a story by Ronan Farrow and Jane Mayer detailing an accusation from Kavanaugh’s Yale days.
The story, which can be found here, introduces a woman who claims Kavanaugh exposed himself and put his penis right in front of her face. It’s a very serious allegation… and one that is so flimsy that the accuser herself doesn’t appear too confident in her own allegations, and virtually every other source the New Yorker spoke to refutes the claim.
A third male student then exposed himself to her. “I remember a penis being in front of my face,” she said. “I knew that’s not what I wanted, even in that state of mind.” She recalled remarking, “That’s not a real penis,” and the other students laughing at her confusion and taunting her, one encouraging her to “kiss it.” She said that she pushed the person away, touching it in the process. Ramirez, who was raised a devout Catholic, in Connecticut, said that she was shaken. “I wasn’t going to touch a penis until I was married,” she said. “I was embarrassed and ashamed and humiliated.” She remembers Kavanaugh standing to her right and laughing, pulling up his pants. “Brett was laughing,” she said. “I can still see his face, and his hips coming forward, like when you pull up your pants.” She recalled another male student shouting about the incident. “Somebody yelled down the hall, ‘Brett Kavanaugh just put his penis in Debbie’s face,’ ” she said. “It was his full name. I don’t think it was just ‘Brett.’ And I remember hearing and being mortified that this was out there.”
And yet, after several days of considering the matter carefully, she said, “I’m confident about the pants coming up, and I’m confident about Brett being there.” Ramirez said that what has stayed with her most forcefully is the memory of laughter at her expense from Kavanaugh and the other students. “It was kind of a joke,” she recalled. “And now it’s clear to me it wasn’t a joke.”
Now, this is the difficult part: In the modern era, it is considered improper to cast doubt on the accuser, but the story itself seems to do so – it frequently acknowledges that there are major gaps in Ramirez’s memory, and the so-called witnesses seem adamant that it didn’t happen.
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.
So, right away, we see that the writers – Ronan Farrow and Jane Mayer – struggled to get eye-witnesses of the event. The closest to confirmations they can attain are from people who were not at the party.
As far as those who were…
One of the male classmates who Ramirez said egged on Kavanaugh denied any memory of the party. “I don’t think Brett would flash himself to Debbie, or anyone, for that matter,” he said. Asked why he thought Ramirez was making the allegation, he responded, “I have no idea.” The other male classmate who Ramirez said was involved in the incident commented, “I have zero recollection.”
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: “We were the people closest to Brett Kavanaugh during his first year at Yale. He was a roommate to some of us, and we spent a great deal of time with him, including in the dorm where this incident allegedly took place. Some of us were also friends with Debbie Ramirez during and after her time at Yale. We can say with confidence that if the incident Debbie alleges ever occurred, we would have seen or heard about it—and we did not. The behavior she describes would be completely out of character for Brett. In addition, some of us knew Debbie long after Yale, and she never described this incident until Brett’s Supreme Court nomination was pending. Editors from the New Yorker contacted some of us because we are the people who would know the truth, and we told them that we never saw or heard about this.”
This is a pretty major accusation that the New Yorker has tossed out there, and no one (much like in Ford’s case) other than the accuser can confirm it. The only eyewitnesses we have on the record vehemently deny that such events took place, but that hasn’t stopped the speculation, as well as the calls for Kavanaugh to be disqualified.
I do not know why the New Yorker would have run this, other than as a political hit. Everything that NBC claimed Farrow’s story on Harvey Weinstein was – not well-sourced, not ready to go live – perfectly describes what this story is. And, given Farrow’s work in the Weinstein story, as well as other #MeToo stories, this piece is far below the quality that he normally provides.
That lends credence to the idea that this was little more than a hit. It’s impossible to say for certain, but if you’re looking for credible allegations against Kavanaugh, then seek them elsewhere. This piece by the New Yorker is not one of them.