Republicans accused of stifling sexual misconduct claim against Brett Kavanaugh during confirmation

Corroborating information about an accusation against Kavanaugh was not investigated prior to his 2018 confirmation

By Matthew Rozsa

Staff Writer

Published September 15, 2019 9:59AM (EDT)

 (Getty/Chip Somodevilla)
(Getty/Chip Somodevilla)

Update: President Donald Trump responded to the report about Kavanaugh with a pair of tweets on Sunday morning.

"Now the Radical Left Democrats and their Partner, the LameStream Media, are after Brett Kavanaugh again, talking loudly of their favorite word, impeachment. He is an innocent man who has been treated HORRIBLY. Such lies about him. They want to scare him into turning Liberal!" Trump initially tweeted. He later added, "Brett Kavanaugh should start suing people for libel, or the Justice Department should come to his rescue. The lies being told about him are unbelievable. False Accusations without recrimination. When does it stop? They are trying to influence his opinions. Can’t let that happen!"

A new report reveals that Deborah Ramirez, a woman who claims Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh sexually assaulted her while she was a student at Yale University, may have had evidence to corroborate her story — but that Republicans created a process which would stifle her account so that Kavanaugh could be confirmed.

Deborah Ramirez, who alleged that she was assaulted by Kavanaugh at a Yale party when she was an underclassman, had her legal team provide the F.B.I. with a list of at least 25 people who could have had evidence to corroborate her story, but the bureau ultimately interviewed none of them, according to The New York Times. The publication also learned that many of the individuals who could have corroborated Ramirez's story attempted to reach the F.B.I. on their own but were unable to do so.

According to The New York Times, Ramirez claims to have been sexually assaulted by Kavanaugh during a dormitory party when she was a freshman at the Ivy League school.

During the winter of her freshman year, a drunken dormitory party unsettled her deeply. She and some classmates had been drinking heavily when, she says, a freshman named Brett Kavanaugh pulled down his pants and thrust his penis at her, prompting her to swat it away and inadvertently touch it. Some of the onlookers, who had been passing around a fake penis earlier in the evening, laughed.

The Times adds that "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."

There is also a report that Ramirez was not the only Yale student toward whom Kavanaugh allegedly behaved in a similar fashion. One classmate named Max Stier, who now runs a nonprofit organization in Washington D.C., said that he saw Kavanaugh pull his pants down at a different party and allowed friends to push his penis into the hands of a female student. Although Stier is reported to have informed both members of the Senate and the F.B.I. about what he witnessed, the bureau did not investigate.

According to the Times' reporting, the bureau's inactivity was caused by the stringent rules imposed on them by the Republican-controlled Senate, which was determined to confirm Kavanaugh.

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.”

Former Secretary of Housing and Urban Development Julián Castro called for an investigation, tweeting that "Brett Kavanaugh’s confirmation is a shame to the Supreme Court. This latest allegation of assault must be investigated."

The New York Times itself has come under fire for a tweet promoting the article which described "having a penis thrust in your face at a drunken dorm party" as potentially seeming "like harmless fun." The publication later deleted the tweet and apologized, writing that "we deleted a previous tweet regarding this article. It was offensive, and we apologize."

By Matthew Rozsa

Matthew Rozsa is a staff writer at Salon. He received a Master's Degree in History from Rutgers-Newark in 2012 and was awarded a science journalism fellowship from the Metcalf Institute in 2022.

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All Salon Brett Kavanaugh Deborah Ramirez New York Times News & Politics Sexual Misconduct Supreme Court