Investigating Justice Brett Kavanaugh


Support for fresh air and the following message come from rocket mortgage by quicken loans with award-winning service throughout the home buying process at rocket mortgage dot com slash fresh air equal equal housing lender licensed in all fifty states and MLS consumeraccess dot org number thirty thirty from whyy in Philadelphia. I'm terry gross with fresh air do New York Times reporters who covered the cavenaugh confirmation hearings have investigated parts of the story that would never covered in the hearings or revealed revealed in the FBI investigation their findings have led several Democratic presidential candidates to call for Kavanagh's impeachment. Today we talk with those reporters Robin Pogrebin and Kate Kelly their formative years intersect with Kavanagh's Kelly went to high school in the same network of Washington. DC PREP schools as Cavanaugh pogrebin attended Yale at the same time as Cavanaugh and lived in the same freshman dorm just a few doors down. It really seemed like there. It was perhaps a real disconnect between the way he was representing himself publicly for a very important position on the highest court and the way his classmates actually remember him. That's on fresh air. Several Democratic presidential candidates called for the impeachment of Supreme Court Justice Brad Kavanagh after after the New York Times published an essay Saturday adapted from the new book the Education of Brett Cavanaugh by my two guests Robin Pogrebin and Kate Kelly they cover the cavenaugh confirmation hearings in which Christine Blasi Ford alleged that he'd sexually assaulted and choked her at a House Party when she was fifteen and he he was seventeen note to parents will be discussing these sexually related allegations the F. B. I. Conducted an investigation into Kavanagh's behavior but it was restricted in terms of time and scope the F. B. I never spoke with Blasi Ford although they did speak with Deborah Ramirez who alleged that he put his Penis Tina's in her face at a party after Kavanagh's confirmation polarized the country pogrebin and Kelly decided to continue the investigation into allegations allegations against him that included speaking with Blasi Ford Ramirez people who knew them and people who knew Kavanagh when they were young Pogrebin and Kelly learned that the FBI found Ramirez allegations credible they also spoke to a man who alleges he witnessed another incident of inappropriate. It's sexual behavior. Pogrebin and Kelly's backgrounds intersect with Kavanagh's Pogrebin was in his class at Yale and lived just a few doors away from him in the Dorm Kelly grew up in the Washington. DC Area and attended girls high school in the network of his High School Georgetown Prep on a related note. The near Times revealed on Friday that the Justice Department is going to present one of its most prestigious awards to the lawyers who work to support Port Kavanagh's Supreme Court Nomination Robin Pogrebin Kate Kelly welcome to fresh air since Blasi Ford's allegations against Cavanaugh aw revolve around him being very drunk when he sexually assaulted her. What were you able to learn about Kavanagh's ause drinking and high school and College that you didn't learn from the hearing stories that didn't come out in public? The drinking was something of a through line to the efforts we undertook for this book and the cavenaugh story sort of writ large there was heavy drinking and partying Georgetown Georgetown prep in the nineteen eighties. I know that still went on into the early nineteen nineties in the sort of circle of independent schools from which I came there was heavy heavy drinking during the college years that cavenaugh spent at Yale and Robin is a first hand witness to that and it seems as though the heavy drinking thinking done not just by cavenaugh but by many of his close friends at these weekend parties as well as in smaller gatherings during redskins games after their own football games on sort of back to school parties on graduation parties at Beach Week and so on it seems that at these alcohol alcohol fueled events at least in bread Kavanagh's case his behavior would change generally speaking he was regarded as a pretty polite light and responsible well mannered young person but when he was heavily drinking and also at times when he was simply trying to impress his friends like in the school oil yard a different side of him came out and he could be sort of cruel and mock people whether it be other boys in their school who were smaller or not athletes or for whatever reason were picked on or even for women and for example there was a young woman named Renata who went to a neighbouring girls school to Georgetown Prep and there was sort of a ditty that cavenaugh and his friends would chant about how our Nada was easy if you will and if you needed a date it was laid you should call renate was how they pronounced it. Although it's Renata and there was a dirtier version of it to that involved a reference to a sex act so renata with someone they actually really liked and socialized with and some of them kept in touch with her up to current times times but at the same time there was this other side to the discussion that was really misogynistic well another thing that you learned that we kind of new a little bit about was that he was prone to throwing up on his drunk and I can tell us about his dorm room. What people said about that or dorm bathroom to be more precise? Yes I mean at Yale. I think there was this kind of I even have this clear in my memory of sort of rolling rolling kegs into the entryways of dorms there was just a real kind of casual looking the other way about drinking that went on among undergraduates and his dorm room was known for kind of getting disgusting frankly in terms of the bathroom where it was. It always reeked a vomit. There was sometimes residue residue. it was the kind of place where visitors to that to that sweet area kind of want to avoid that bathroom because it was known for that and I interviewed one of Kavanagh's freshman year roommates who really kind of talked about how he can't even count the number of times that Brad sort of stumbled in drunk so I think that this was kind of a big group of guys rowdy where they were just that was kind of a social lubricant and quite routine for them to sometimes TAK- too far in terms of alcohol so you write about why Christine in Blasi Ford decided to come forward and allege that Cavanaugh had sexually assaulted her at a party when he was really drunk. Are there new things you learned about why she decided to come forward. I really think she was motivated. By a sense of civic duty her comment to me was to the effect that someone did something to me. When I was my kids age she's a mother of two adolescent or teenage teenage boys at this point and I thought the key decision makers who were influencing the Supreme Court nomination and confirmation should know about it and to not not say anything would not be okay thing to do in my book that that's a summation of what she said? I think that coming forward occurred that great personal stress and eventually cost to her and her family. She lost her privacy. She lost her security for a period of time time she still receives death threats and as recently as earlier. This year was having to stay in undisclosed locations because of death threats so it was very difficult. I don't think she knew the half of what might happen when she was contemplating this but at a very minimum she knew that her name would in the public domain and she was likely to be the subject of debate and that alone was very stressful for her so I think it was a sense of civic doc duty and I think although she is a Democrat and probably doesn't share most of bread Kavanagh's ideology it really had to do with this sense of ethics and civic obligation as you're describing one of the reasons why Christine Blasi Ford never told her parents about the sexual assault the alleged sexual assault is that she didn't consider it to be a rape. I want you to elaborate on that. Ah Let me quibble with that question. I don't think she didn't tell them because she didn't consider it rape. God forbid if it had been array I I am still not sure that she would have told them given my understanding of her I think she didn't tell them because she decided to pretend that the whole thing had never happened and to bottle it away and in her own mind I think there was a judgment that it was not a rape therefore it was easier to sweep sweep away but it still was a very traumatic sexual assault in her mind so why not tell her parents yes I think she grew up in a very traditional household. she had an earlier curfew than most of her friends she also was on the young side. She has a November birthday so she was younger than many of the people in her class and therefore when this incident allegedly happened she was only fifteen and couldn't drive drive for self so she has an early curfew. She's relying on other people for rides. Her parents don't approve of drinking and partying with boys and here's a a situation where she's been at an unshackled party had a beer been around other beers and drunken kids and rowdy boys and and has actually been the target of an alleged sexual assault so even though today we would probably look at that scenario and say the safety and security and health needs of that young woman would trump those other things to any parent we have a sort of sense sense today that we need to protect our kids and help them work through situations and whether or not they were out past curfew or they were drinking is not relevant I I think it was a different time and it wasn't clear to her that it would be safe to share all of that without her parents being disappointed in her or angry because of the drinking and the UN's chaperoned party I think also to her and too many of us at that age the social currency is all about freedom being being able to go out with your friends being able to push the envelope in stay out until the minute before curfew perhaps being around alcohol and and people that we're attracted to to without parents around so she hadn't fully processed the event and she didn't WanNa lose what privileges she did have so I think that was all a part of it. I want to add Terry that as you well know many victims of sexual assault or even sort of more minor incidents blame themselves and there's a real kind of pattern of shame and I think that Blasi Ford was no exception to that Blasi affords parents had connections Kavanagh's parents or those connections and how did they affect Blasi Ford's decision not to tell her parents until they basically time time of the Cavanaugh hearings about the alleged sexual assault so there are a few cross-currents between the families may be the most notable one just socially is that Christine Blasi Ford's father is a member of and at one point was the president of the burning tree golf club in their part of Montgomery County Maryland where Ed Kavanagh Bread Kavanagh's father other is also a member so presumably they see each other at the club from time to time I know that engulfed circles in the greater Washington area Christine Blasi Ford's father from time to time golfs with Georgetown prep alarms and their family members so there's a circle of of commonality there and I think they just know each other sort of socially and broadly through Montgomery County there also was a case a number of years ago in in which the Blasi Family Christine's parents were in a home foreclosure process with their bank lender their mortgage lender and Martha Cavanaugh aw Brett Kavanagh's mother was the judge in that case now put simply the case was resolved with the lender and the Judge Martha Kavanagh signed off off on that agreement and allowed the foreclosure proceedings to be closed and to go away so if anything that judicial ruling was favorable to the blasios although it sounds like the arrangement was something of a fete accompli by the time it got to her but I think generally the reason why Blasi didn't WanNa share this with her parents is number one not to hurt them not to generate feelings of guilt over not protecting her better because of course these things happen and there's often nothing parents can do and she didn't want to impose that sort of burden on them but I think also she just knew generally early that it would be awkward for them. In their community Bazi Ford story the way she tells it is that she remembers go into the party with her friend Friendly Land Ingram and that Ingram drove her home. Income initially said that she didn't remember this incident but she you didn't challenge Blasi Ford's version of the story but later income changed her story and became very skeptical that what Blasi Ford was saying was true. Do you understand why she changed her mind. I can tell oh you what. She told me that she didn't remember this incident and still doesn't is the bottom line but in terms of whether she found it believable she initially said Christine is my friend and I believe her and then within a couple of weeks weeks she had rested reflected she had looked through old photographs. Some of the photographs had surfaced through the media of cavenaugh back in high school will she had really studied her memory and these images and she thought to herself. I've never seen this man before in my life and I never went to party with him and she also had a number of circumstantial reasons why she thought that Christine's account was improbable. including including the fact that Kaiser while a member of the Columbia Club had been spending most of her time at a different area country club that summer so they were things that while well not irrelevant upon further reporting really were not sort of solid reasons to shoot down Ford's account because was there were other aspects of it that did ring true and the things that Kaiser was thinking of did not contradict the story. It's certainly possible that she met up with Blasi on a given day and picked her up at the Columbia Club and then went to a party and so on you question whether her memory was affected by alcohol and drugs I wanted to just raise that prospect memory and its limitations has been a through line to this book for all parties and well. I don't know exactly what is in Leland Kaiser's had she does acknowledge that she's had issues with alcohol and substances over the years. I asked her whether she thought her memory has been affected by these and she said she thinks not she was something of a straight Arrow back in these high school years so she doesn't doesn't believe her memory was impeded at the time by alcohol and she also thinks that her memory as of two thousand eighteen during the fall of last year was unimpeded impeded by substances the two other boys who've lousy Ford says she remembers being at the Party which was allegedly sexually assaulted Patrick Smith and Mark Judge and Patrick's myth is is also known as PJ when Brad Kavanagh talks about him and mark judges the guy who Abbasi Ford says jumped jumped on top of Cavanagh and Cavanagh as top of her and knocked cavanaugh to the floor so you were were you able to talk to each of them to Smith and to judge I did not talk to Smith I messaged him and called him numerous times. I did get a sense of what he was telling friends last fall as well as a sense of what he told the FBI based on other interviews I did with people who know him and the substance of it was that he too does not remember member but he also thinks that there is nothing there he doesn't think it sounds like a credible story judge. I did talk to briefly. It was hard to find him. He somewhat itinerant as far as I can tell and stays with family and friends but I did track down where he was staying at one point in and we had a short conversation and the upshot of of what he had to say is that he simply doesn't remember as well so not a lot of progress from those interviews. I see what you mean. When you say memories through story throughout this case it it is and it's an interesting prism through which to gauge these accounts as well as Kavanagh's denial we had we had a challenge challenge in assessing Kavanagh's straightforwardness the hearings because after all were not inside of his head we don't know what if anything he does remember member and if he's giving us the full picture of what's in his head but without knowing that it's very hard to say that he lied he may be inaccurate about things things because we have other eye witnesses? Remember it differently who are credible he may be telling a sort of a shaded truth. That's not a straightforward lie but memory is tricky to discern if it's not your own but there are things he said when he was being questioned that really seemed easy inaccurate simple things like saying that boof ing which is a sex act was actually about flatulence or that the Devil's triangle which is the word for type of threesome was really a drinking game and people kind of no. That's not true but that's what he was saying so I wonder how you weigh that in terms of trying to assess his honesty clarity I sort of different take on those particular examples. I think that if you've ever had an inside joke on a yearbook page or anywhere you know that you may rip it from a dictionary or from popular culture because because it has a salacious meaning but to you and your friends it has a different meaning so sure doubles triangle has a sexual reference to it but they turn turn it into a drinking game so it could be literally true that there is a devil's triangle drinking game but that the term clearly comes from another context to me the untruths were more obvious with things like the Renova situation the fact that there had been this disparaging Song Song about a young woman who was in Cavenaugh social circle in high school and it was also mentioned in his yearbook on his page and on others pages and he said she's she's a dear friend and that reference was meant to show that she was one of us. I think actually they did care about her and did consider her part of their group but at the same time they were disparaging her so that to me is a more clear cut case of a very lawyerly if not dishonest answer and she said she felt disparaged by the yes my guest or New York Times reporters Robin Pogrebin Kate Kelly others of the new book the Education of Bread Cavanaugh after a break. We'll talk about the Deborah Ramirez allegation and a new allegation they report in the book. I'm Terry Gross and this is fresh air support for this podcast and the following message come from capital one with the capital one venture card you earn unlimited double miles on every purchase everyday and you can use those miles toward travel expenses like flights hotels rental cars and more just book and pay for your travel using your venture card and redeem your miles toward the cost capital one. What's what's in your Wallet Credit Approval Required Capital One bank USA N. A? Let's get back to my interview with New York Times Reporters Robin Pogrebin and Kate Kelly Kelly authors of the new book the education of Brad Kavanagh they covered the cavanaugh confirmation hearings after the hearings the related. FBI investigation and Kavanagh's confirmation polarized the country pogrebin and Kelly continued to investigate allegations against him. They report what they found in their new book. Note appearance will be discussing the sexually related allegations. Let's talk about the Deborah Ramirez Story. She's Omen who came forward and had her own allegations about brick cavanaugh. Would you describe her allegations. Yes her allegations were that at a party freshman freshman year in the freshman dorm on old campus which is the quad where most freshman live she recalls being part of a drinking game with with a rather small group of mostly guys with drinks being passed around presumably beer where she was continually continuously and repeatedly targeted to drink kind of drink drink debbie drink which she did to excess and she had never had alcohol alcohol in any meaningful way before coming to Yale and that at some point there was a kind of a fake penis in her face she swatted away and then subsequently there was a real penis thrust in her face and when she looked up she saw Brad Kavanagh pulling up his pants and laughing and all of his friends who were also in the drinking game laughing as well which she found incredibly humiliating and an experience that stayed with her she. I also told you she remembers somebody yelling. Brad Kavanagh just put his penis and Debbie's face. That's right someone yelling down the hall so Deborah Mirrors was never called to testify at the hearings. Why not that was a real? subject of interest for us is that this was a story that kind of never got. It's do it ended up being kind of lumped in with other allegations that were considerably less corroborated as kind of a piling on of Kavanagh on you also had the Republicans in charge of the process and they clearly had no interest in adding yet another story and another potential victim to sort of the public dialogue and giving her the legitimacy of sort of a public forum so although she was made available to the Senate Senate Judiciary Committee and then her lawyers ultimately gave the F. B. I. List of more than two dozen potential witnesses who could add credence to her story. Sorry ultimately the Judiciary Committee determined that her allegations were not relevant to the process. What do you think is the importance of of her story to the larger bread Cavan story? I think it's a really important point. I'm glad you asked which is there are plenty of people who you talked to about the Ramirez allegations and to the extent they are aware of them. They kind of say what's the big deal and you can see from the outside. How that perspective is conceivable? I mean basically someone exposing himself to her at a drunken dorm party. You dismiss that as just so much kind of drunken juvenile refund boys being boys if she were made of stronger stuff maybe she would have just said get that out of my face gone on with her life what's important and what my reporting really revealed was that it's essential to look at the background of a person like Deborah Ramirez and indeed anyone who comes into a place like the L. A. that has made me sort of newly sensitive to this idea that not everyone comes into college equally equipped to sue navigate situations like that. She was raised in Working Class Shelton Connecticut. Her father was a cable splicer. She was very kind of strict. Kind of Catholic. Upbringing upbringing did things by the book academically distinguished not at all experienced sexually or in terms of alcohol and also somewhat at a disadvantage financially her family had scrape together money for her to get through Yale in addition to getting loans. She worked in the college dining halls so that is sort of the background she comes to Yale with and she's also has Puerto Rican heritage and as we know now there is a lot more sensitivity to the experience of people of Color but at the time there were jokes on on campus that she experienced of people saying you know how'd you get in here is it because you're Puerto Rican even something as callous as like hide the knives when she came into the room and also frankly making fun of her clothes her kind of knock off Air Jordan sneakers the fact that she had joined the cheerleading squad so she already felt behind the eight ball at Yale had a real deep sense of inadequacy that eh she didn't belong there wasn't gonna be able to hack it so this experience with cavenaugh only confirmed on those insecurities in a way that was formative. She said that she had never touched a penis before this was like the I am an unwillingly and she had expected the first time this happened and it it would be with her husband and this is one of the reasons why she found the whole incident too so upset in as I talked to her really struck me Terry that she could could not recall these events and count them of thirty five years ago without weeping and I've done enough of these two stories to see that even even with a spectrum of experience sometimes it's kind of verbal harassment all the way towards more sort of sexual aggression that these experiences stay with these women and continue to resonate no matter how buried no matter whether they told people are not at the time they don't go away and that is clear with this experience that for her for the humiliation of it was almost as bad as just kind of the sexual experience itself that just having people laugh at her is really what actually stands out in her mind the most which is interesting because it dovetails so much with what Blasi Ford said about kind of remembering the laughter in the room when when she was allegedly attacked. Do you see Ramirez story as lending credibility to Blasi Ford story I see it as lending credibility in this picture picture of how we started as have come to understand this young man which is that he grew up in this millio that was largely male. He went to an all male uh-huh high school it was kind of he was very much associated with athletes. There was a currency that was kind of a jocular and disparaging of women and a casual. Perhaps only verbal way sort of ironically that that Brad Kavanagh was not a ladies man he he kind of didn't really have the moves he didn't get the girls in that's kind of why he seems to have relied on alcohol conceivably to kind of make himself feel a little more socially socially relaxed because you know he wasn't necessarily that adept and so there's kind of this ham handed quality. Let's say you know pawing at Christine Blasi Ford's bathing suit suit or thrusting his penis into Deborah Ramirez face that is sort of all of a piece with certain kind of juvenile behavior that that said you know we did find after considerable digging that in the thirty six years since these allegations he he basically grew up he he you know in in our view became a better man either because he sort of consciously sought to reform these ways or he just simply matured into a person who actually ended up promoting motive women in terms of his own practice of hiring female clerks to a notable degree and promoting women in the profession and and being a family man and having daughters of his own who's basketball team he coaches and actually being an individual who people speak highly of in terms of character and unprofessional just behavior on both sides of the aisle. Are there other women who have come forward since the cavenaugh hearings you know basically we have this one other allegation that has never been reported. it surfaced at the time where there was another other incident at a Yale Party. It was a different party but it was also freshman year where everybody was drunk. Cavanaugh was with his friends and a group his pants were down and his friends brought him over to a woman named Tracy harm in her her married name is joy so she's now now tracy harm and Joyce and that a classmate named Max Dyer who now while kind of works on Prophet Good Government Organization in Washington and remembers seeing Kavanagh's friends put his penis in Tracy's hand Max dire brought that story to two the two members of the Senate at the time he also made the FBI aware of it and neither pursued it certainly the FBI didn't in any meaningful awful way and Max Steiner has resigned as a result decided not to speak publicly about it kind of feeling that he did his part in trying to make the appropriate authorities aware of what he observed at the time and they didn't pursue it so he had no interest in and resurfacing those allegations but they they came up in our reporting from a number of different directions and they clearly do add sort of yet another layer to that kind of college experience that the the Ramirez Story describes my guests are New York Times reporter Robin Pogrebin and Kate Kelly who covered the bread cavanaugh hearings their new book is called the Education of Bread Cavanaugh. Our interview was recorded last Thursday over the weekend. The Times published an article pogrebin and Kelly adapted adapted from their book the lead to cause for Kavanagh's impeachment the article included the new allegation. We were just talking about based on statements by Kavanagh's classmate. Ask Max dire then you're times later added an editor's note that the female student the alleged victim of the incident declined to be interviewed and friends say she doesn't recall the incident that information was included in the book but not in the original times article or in our interview. We'll hear more of our interview after a break this is fresh air support for NPR and the following message come from Kroger. Did you know one in eight Americans struggle with hunger yet forty percent of the food produced in the US gets thrown away. Kroger believes that have just one third of that wasted food could be redirected it to people in need it would more than cover unmet food needs across the country while helping to protect our planet. That's what Kroger is doing through their zero. Hunger Zero Waste Ace Foundation last year alone Kroger donated three hundred twenty five million meals to local food banks. It's part of their goal to achieve zero hunger zero waist by twenty twenty-five learn more at kroger dot com slash Z H Z W maybe you're up with the sun or maybe you're well not a morning earning person either way you can hear morning edition from NPR news on your schedule. It's on demand weekdays seven to three just say Alexa play morning edition. This is fresh air and if you're just joining US my guests are New York Times reporters Robin Pogrebin and Kate Kelly they covered the bread cavanaugh hearings for the New York Times where they're both reporters and now they have a new book called the Education of Bread Cavanaugh an investigation. Nothing you're worried about is the agreement that Senators Chris Coons is and Jeff Flake a Democrat and Republican reached to ask for an FBI investigation and Jeff Flake agreed to do it. If it was just asked for like a week week or ten days I forget which we it was a week and there was a rationalization there that the Anita Hill investigation had been done in and four days right so so they came forward with this idea and when it was accepted by other Judiciary Committee coons assumed that they this would be done by the book and then coons realized there wasn't a book there wasn't a set of guidelines that weren't precedents for this. Can you explain what happened without like how he realized that there wasn't going to be a set of guidelines and they had had no control over how this was gonna go sure I mean senator. Coons is an interesting character in this story away. I'd love to come back to him and this topic vic in some other way but he is a Democrat who really values a sense of bipartisanship that is sort of all too scarce in Congress right now and Jeff Flake who's now retired but was also was a Republican in the Senate at the time who was known for a a bit of a maverick streak and a bit of an independent sense seem to Kuhn's like the most approachable about the idea of having an FBI investigation postponing essentially the confirmation vote on Brett cabinet until more could be learned so the two of them reach this agreement you want to do that. They convinced other moderate senators Susan Collins from Maine and Lisa Murkowski from Alaska to back them up and then the Republicans ends went to see Senate majority leader Mitch McConnell to talk about this and it was agreed that this FBI investigation would be recommended and that the confirmation process would be delayed laid for a week I think senator coons expected to be sort of a voice in the mix from then on and he was not he worked with flake. Murkowski and Collins is to kind of spit ball and sort of generate some ideas of witnesses who could be interviewed and apparently they had a list that was within the double digits long but but in the end flake came to believe that it was appropriate to just talk to people who had ostensibly primary knowledge of the alleged incidents presidents people like the High School Friends Mark Judge and Patrick Smith and then blasios old friend Leland Kaiser but not people who might only have secondary information which which some of the Yale sources robin has talked about would probably fit that category they may not have been in the room during the alleged Ramirez situation but they might have heard about it later those people bore knocking to make the list and eventually you had Chris coons get very frustrated and reached White House Counsel Don mcgann on Sunday when mcgann was apparently taking one of his kids to little league and confront him and say I thought this was going to be done by the Book Don Whereas the book and Don mcgann apparently said to him there is no book. Do you have any thoughts you can share on the credibility of Blasi Ford and Ramirez. I'll take the the Ford question then we do find Ford credible because she is first of all has a history of honesty and and even her ex boyfriend who gave some testimony in an affidavit to the Senate Judiciary Committee that Republicans used to undermine her for for example saying that he hadn't been aware she had fear of flying which was an issue that had nothing to do with the alleged cavenaugh salt but ostensibly went to her credibility. Even he said she's is a very honest person. She can't lie so people and not just friends would backup the fact that she has honesty integrity as personal qualities so that's for starters but her description of Georgetown prep and hold an arms and the social scene of that time has proved accurate her connection to new Cabinet Group of friends has really not been disputed. She dated one of his closest friends. A guy named Chris Garrett she has specific memories of that her friend Leland Kaiser who was ostensibly the person at the Party dated Mark Judge who was Kavanagh's good friend and the person in that Ford alleges was in the room when she was assaulted so they're all these sort of interlocking connections. We also know that heavy drinking and UNE chaperoned teenage gatherings offerings were something of a norm at the time we also know that Ford passed a polygraph test questioning her cavenaugh recollection specifically so we find her credible. It's true that there is not contemporaneous corroboration but Lisera her records and therapy where she says she's talked about it but those are contemporaneous meaning from nineteen eighty two when the incident is alleged to have occurred. Oh I thought yes when so she talked with therapist much later about yeah that's right. She talked with therapists much later. within the last decade she disclosed her husband before they were married in the early on that she had been assaulted but didn't get into detail in recent years prior to Kavanagh's nomination but within the last two three years she had told a small small circle of friends that she had been assaulted in high school and sort of giving them the contours of the situation in at least one case identified Brad Kavanagh onto a friend and but it was not until many many years later that she talked more openly about it in terms of Ramirez we found as I said had seven corroborating stories of having heard from this in at least a couple of the cases they you know they were classmates who hadn't heard about it from Ramirez herself itself but from others so Brad Kavanagh had said during his hearings that if the Deborah Ramirez allegations had happened it would have been the talk of campus. We found that actually it was the talk of campus there's that there's also the point that both Deborah Ramirez and Blahsy Ford you know we haven't found motivations for them to lie and do this. It's kind of up ended their lives and in the case of Lousy Ford at least on the repercussions continue to play out you know to raise raise your hand for this kind of experience it. They're just these are not like politically motivated women from what we've been able to find and the other aspect I would say is that in talking to let's say Debra Ramirez attorneys one of whom is very experienced in representing victims of sexual assault that the kind of sporadic memories that these women have have we are some details are crystal clear and others fuzzy they remember for example circumstances of you know the bedroom where it happened or of the image of somebody laughing but they don't remember how let's say in case Blasi Ford she got to and from that party that's actually actually consistent with victims of sexual assault and trauma that it's the people who have this kind of cohesive story with every detail who are actually more suspect back because that's how memory works when when trauma is involved is it's there in plenty of holes and there were in both of these cases. Let's take a break here and then we'll talk some more. If you're just joining US my guests are New York Times reporters Robin Pogrebin and Kate Kelly authors of the new book the Education of Bread Cavanaugh and investigation. We'll be right back this is fresh air support for this podcast and the following message come from K. Buxbaum in support of the David Gilkey and Zaba ULITSA Simona Memorial Fund established to strengthen NPR's commitment to training and protecting journalists in high risk environments support for NPR comes from whyy H. Y. Y. Presenting the pulse podcast that takes you on adventures into unexpected corners of health and science plastic in the guts of deep sea creatures crying after anesthesia building your own Internet each episode is full of fascinating stories and big ideas the pulse available where you get your podcasts casts or at. WHYY DOT org this is fresh air and if you're just joining US my guests are New York Times reporters Robin Pogrebin and Kate Kelly they covered for the bread cavanaugh hearings for the New York Times where they're both reporters and now they have a new book called the Education of Bread Cavanaugh an investigation. You raise a question in in the book that would I'm going to pose to you what if Brad Kavanagh did what he was accused of but his conduct has been good since then. How should those past actions be taken going into account? I know you don't have like a pat answer for that but I'm sure it's something you've reflected on a lot. We've talked about it a lot and we feel like it's something thing that are reader should make up their minds on hopefully armed with some of the facts and evidence that we raise in our book there are a few ways to look at it. Obviously I mean there is one school of thought that says if this type of behavior which is to say sexual assault or sexually themed mistreatment of Women even just verbal sort of Miss misogynistic commentary. If if this is part of your character ever it's part of your character as an adult and that a Supreme Court justice perhaps should be held to the very highest standard standard of conduct of of any public officer in our country so it's all relevant doesn't matter when it happened there's another school of thought that that is deals with our mentality in this country around young people and our juvenile justice system and in all fifty states it varies. He's a little bit state to state but there are protections for juveniles who commit crimes and court proceedings court documents settlements settlements any sort of these legal processes that might surrounded juvenile crime or kept confidential and the reason is we want to give young people a chance to reform themselves and learn from their ways and not be haunted by the mistakes of their past now. This is obviously a theoretical. There was no police report here. Let alone any set of charges. This is only only an allegation but just as a way of thinking about our culture and how we evaluate things that happen when a person is seventeen in eighteen at the very oldest cavenaugh might have been nineteen when the Ramirez allegations were said to occurred so those are sort of two ways of thinking about it and we feel like they're both compelling as are many arguments in between and I think another question here is you were talking about the juvenile justice system and how it's the justice system is different fruit for people who are underage but I think there's an understanding finding that there's amount and amount of reflection and remorse that you're supposed to have for anything that you've done though that was criminal and when brick cavanaugh was on the stand I mean he was advised basically by the trump administration to fight heart and a lot of people thought what his behavior on the stand was really out of character but there wasn't a lot of like reflection I like did this happen. I I don't remember it. It seems really out of character in you know what I mean there was it was he was fighting back when he wasn't like reflecting. What did it mean? These women were coming forward. Yeah I think that we felt and we really did explore floor. You know what if he had taken sort of had more of a nuanced response of yes I did some things I'm really not proud of and I feel badly about out particularly if I mistreated people in the process and I think what we came to was that in the age of trump who's all about fighting back and kind of Brooking no concessions that it would have doomed his nomination that there was no way for Brad Kavanagh to kind of be a human flawed the individual there sort of acknowledging the error of his ways and asking to be confirmed anyway that he really had to take a kind of a black and white stance of sort of unilateral denial on all of these matters and and showing absolutely sort of no acknowledgement whatsoever about this past behavior or the possibility that that he behaved in ways he is proud of. I think the outcomes here were very binary. I think either he was going to be named to the Supreme Court or he was potentially going to lose the job that he did have as well as his teaching jobs and his coaching responsibilities because unfortunately personally what we're seeing now in our culture is sort of the accumulation of a bunch of somewhat toxic cross-currents the the fighting instinct that Robin has talked talked about the the advent of social media and the sort of abuse that all sorts of people get on Social Media the idea that your behavior has to be up to a certain level at all times and that to be flawed is to be cancelled I I think there was a whole accumulation of factors that made it difficult if not impossible for cavenaugh to say something to the effect of if if I ever heard someone I'm terribly sorry WanNa thank you both very much for talking with us and for your reporting Robin Pogrebin Kate Kelly. Thank you thank you thank you Terry. Robin Pogrebin and Kate Kelly Are New York Times reporters and authors of the new book the Education of Brett Cavanaugh our interview view was recorded last Thursday tomorrow on fresh air my guest will be Pulitzer Prize winning historian Eric phoner author of the new book the second founding wing of the civil war and reconstruction remade the Constitution we'll talk about the thirteenth fourteenth and fifteenth amendments which gave Black Men the right to vote gave people equal protection under the law and granted citizenship to all people born in the US but we'll also talk about how voting rights it's equal protection and who gets to be a citizen are still highly contested issues in America. I hope you'll join US fresh. Air's executive producer is Danny Miller

Coming up next