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Why the FBI’s Kavanaugh Investigation Is So Troubling

The feds did not interview key witnesses — including former classmates who claim they can corroborate sexual misconduct allegations and lies under oath

Supreme court nominee Brett Kavanaugh testifies before the Senate Judiciary Committee on Capitol HillSenate Judiciary Committee Brett Kavanaugh nomination hearing, Washington DC, USA - 27 Sep 2018

Supreme court nominee Brett Kavanaugh testifies before the Senate Judiciary Committee on Capitol Hill.

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United States senators are taking turns reading the FBI’s updated background investigation into Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh. But the report is unaccountably incomplete. The FBI interviewed only one of Kavanaugh’s three accusers. And investigators failed to interview key witnesses who could have helped corroborate allegations of sexual misconduct by Kavanaugh, or exposed lies he appears to have told the Senate while under oath. Most striking, the FBI did not interview Kavanaugh, himself.

Nor did the FBI interview Kavanaugh’s first accuser, Dr. Christine Blasey Ford, nor any of the people Ford confided in about her alleged assault, including her husband and nearly half a dozen friends. Investigators also did not speak to the former FBI agent who conducted the polygraph test that Ford passed. In a scathing letter to FBI Director Christopher Wray, Ford’s lawyers write: “The ‘investigation’ conducted over the past five days is a stain on the process, on the FBI, and on our American ideal of justice.”

The FBI did interview Deborah Ramirez, the Yale classmate who accuses Kavanaugh of drunkenly exposing himself to her. But investigators did not interview Yale contemporaries who could corroborate Ramirez’s recollection, or call into question other under-oath testimony by Kavanaugh.

Kavanaugh has repeatedly testified that his alleged indecent exposure to Ramirez could not have happened because it would have been “the talk of campus.” The New Yorker quotes Yale classmate Kenneth Appold, now a professor at Princeton’s theological seminary, saying it was indeed talked about. Appold told reporters Jane Mayer and Ronan Farrow that he heard about the incident within days, saying he’s “100 percent certain” he was told Kavanaugh exposed himself to Ramirez: “I can corroborate Debbie’s account,” Appold said. “I believe her because it matches the same story I heard thirty-five years ago, although the two of us have never talked.” Appold reportedly offered to speak to the FBI but never heard back.

Kavanaugh’s honesty under oath has been called into question by another former Yale classmate, the nominee’s old roommate James Roche, whom the FBI did not interview. Writing at Slate, Roche insists Kavanaugh lied to the senate about his drinking habits and about his use of the terms “Devil’s Triangle” and “boof,” both of which appear on Kavanaugh’s high school yearbook page.

“I do not know if Brett attacked Christine Blasey Ford in high school or if he sexually humiliated Debbie in front of a group of people she thought were her friends,” Roche writes. “But I can say that he lied under oath. He claimed that he occasionally drank too much but never enough to forget details of the night before, never enough to ‘black out.’ He did, regularly. He said that ‘boofing’ was farting and the ‘Devil’s Triangle’ was a drinking game. ‘Boofing’ and ‘Devil’s Triangle’ are sexual references. I know this because I heard Brett and his friends using these terms on multiple occasions.”

A high school classmate of Kavanaugh also approached the FBI with evidence that Kavanaugh lied under oath. He was not interviewed, but submitted an affidavit that he provided anonymously to the New Yorker. Kavanaugh testified that he called himself a “Renate Alumnius” [sic] in his yearbook as a sign of camaraderie and affection for a girl in his social circle, not as a mark of real or imagined sexual conquest.

Kavanaugh’s former Georgetown Prep classmate attests that this is a lie: “One name that routinely was a subject of conversation when the football players were bragging about sexual conquests was a person named Renate, pronounced, REE NATE,” the classmate wrote in his affidavit. “In particular, I recall that Brett Kavanaugh had made up a rhyme using the REE NATE pronunciation of Renate’s name. I specifically recall one day walking down a hall with Brett Kavanaugh on a way to class, and hearing Brett Kavanaugh sing this rhyme. While I cannot recall the exact words he sang, the general theme was that Renate could be used for sex as a last resort. What I recall from the rhyme that I heard Brett Kavanaugh sing is: ‘REE NATE, REE NATE, if you want a date, can’t get one until late, and you wanna get laid, you can make it with REE NATE.’”

This recollection is consistent with a snippet of verse that made it into the 1983 Georgetown Prep yearbook:

The FBI also did not interview Julie Swetnick, who alleges Kavanaugh participated in horrific sexual misbehavior. (Kavanaugh has vigorously denied the allegations of Swetnick, Ramirez and Ford.) Swetnick is represented by lawyer Michael Avenatti, who tweeted out a sworn statement from another contemporary who claims to have witnessed Kavanaugh spiking punch at house parties. Avenatti calls the FBI investigation a “scam.”

The incompleteness of the investigation does not appear to trouble key Republican senators. Susan Collins of Maine told reporters: “It appears to be a very thorough investigation.” But the ranking member of the Judiciary Committee, Dianne Feinstein (D-CA), strongly disagrees: “The most notable part of this report is what’s not in it,” she told reporters on Thursday. “The FBI did not interview Brett Kavanaugh nor did the FBI interview Blasey Ford. It looks to be the product of an incomplete investigation.” While senate Democrats agreed that the investigation should be limited in scope, Feinstein said, “We did not agree that [the Trump White House] should tie the FBI’s hands.”

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