The Slatest

Texts Reportedly Show Kavanaugh Coordinating Response With Friends to Ramirez Allegations Before New Yorker Story Published

Supreme court nominee Brett Kavanaugh testifies before the Senate Judiciary Committee on Capitol Hill in Washington on Thursday.
Supreme court nominee Brett Kavanaugh testifies before the Senate Judiciary Committee on Capitol Hill in Washington on Thursday.
Tom Williams/Getty Images

Brett Kavanaugh and his team were in contact with former classmates and friends in an attempt to refute, before publication in the New Yorker last month, Yale classmate Deborah Ramirez’s allegation that he exposed himself to her at a college party and “thrust his penis in her face,” NBC News reports. A series of text messages between Kerry Berchem, who was at Yale with both Kavanaugh and Ramirez, and another friend of Kavanaugh’s, Karen Yarasavage, indicate that Kavanaugh was aware of Ramirez’s accusation before it was published. Berchem, NBC News reports, has contacted the FBI twice to try to hand over memos containing information about the interactions, but has so far not been contacted by investigators.

From NBC News:

The texts between Berchem and Karen Yarasavage, both friends of Kavanaugh, suggest that the nominee was personally talking with former classmates about Ramirez’s story in advance of the New Yorker article that made her allegation public. In one message, Yarasavage said Kavanaugh asked her to go on the record in his defense. Two other messages show communication between … Kavanaugh’s team and former classmates in advance of the story…

In a series of texts prior to the publication of the New Yorker story, Yarasavage wrote that she had been in contact with “Brett’s guy,” and also with “Brett,” who wanted her to go on the record to refute Ramirez. According to Berchem, Yarasavage also told her friend that she turned over a copy of the wedding party photo to Kavanaugh, writing in a text message: “I had to send it to Brett’s team too…”

The texts also demonstrate that Kavanaugh and Ramirez were more socially connected than previously understood and that Ramirez was uncomfortable around Kavanaugh when they saw each other at a wedding 10 years after they graduated. Berchem’s efforts also show that some potential witnesses have been unable to get important information through to the FBI.

The NBC News report is relevant for several reasons. One, Kavanaugh said, under oath during his testimony last week, that the first time he had heard of Ramirez’s allegations was in the New Yorker story. The text messages would indicate that that is not true and would get to the larger point that Kavanaugh has not told the truth in a number of instances during the confirmation process, and potentially perjured himself. Second, the report raises the question of whether the breadth of the FBI investigation under a tight time frame is sufficient and whether investigators will, in fact, track down all relevant leads. Finally, the fact that Kavanaugh was personally interacting and coordinating with people who might later be called as witnesses could be legally perilous. Bob Bauer, former White House counsel for President Obama, told NBC News that a nominee directly contacting people with information would be “surprising” and “highly imprudent.”