Sunday, September 30, 2018

Fact check shows that Kavanaugh is a skilled liar ... but still a liar

Brett Kavanaugh’s testimony on Thursday was highly partisan, and part of a scripted effort by Republicans who designed and orchestrated the hearings to turn Kavanaugh into a victim and Democrats into his attackers. It was a tirade that should all on it’s own disqualify Kavanaugh from service on any federal court. But there was more to Kavanaugh’s statements than just claims that he was the victim of a conspiracy … there were also a lot of lies.

Republicans were ecstatic with Kavanaugh’s testimony. Not only did it have the tone of angry outrage they demanded, it was filled with partisan attacks. Kavanaugh called the hearing “coordinated and well-funded efforts to destroy my good name and destroy my family” and insisted that it was meant to intimidate him into withdrawal.

And he was quick with an answer—and a sneer—for every question put forward by Democrats. In particular, Kavanaugh had a ready response for every question about items on that 1982 calendar.

And now the New York Times has done some fact-checking on those answers. And the facts do not align with Kavanaugh’s responses. Instead, they could Kavanaugh to be “a skilled lawyer who, when pressed on difficult subjects, sometimes crafted responses that were misleading, disputed or off point.” For those who are not lawyers, what they said is that Brett Kavanaugh is a good, practiced liar.

“Legal” — Kavanaugh stated that as a high school senior, he and his classmates were “legal to drink” even though the drinking age had been raised to 21 before he ever reached the previous legal age.

“Refuted” — like every single Republicans, including committee chair Chuck Grassley, Kavanaugh insisted that witnesses had “refuted” testimony given by Christine Blasey Ford. That’s simply not true. Kavanaugh made this claim at multiple points in his testimony. Only one of the people named was an actual witness, and all of the three testified that they could not recall the party at which the event took place. That’s not a refutation of Ford.

“Beer” — Anyone playing the “every time Kavanaugh says beer, take a drink” game was dead before the the hearing was past the first two questioners, as Kavanaugh expressed his fondness for ‘skis more than three dozen times. But Kavanaugh repeatedly insisted he didn’t drink to excess, which is a fact genuinely refuted by over a dozen genuine witnesses to his drinking in high school and college.

The testimony of those who saw Kavanaugh drinking, and drunk, may be the most telling when it comes to the validity of the central claims.

Lynne Brookes was classmate of Kavanaugh’s at Yale, a fellow athlete, and fellow Republicans. She was also the roommate of accuser Deborah Ramirez. Brookes stated that Kavanaugh’s attempts to classify himself as a moderate drinker who enjoyed a few brews “grossly misrepresented and mischaracterized his drinking” and that his go-to excuse that he couldn’t have been drinking that much because he was also doing well in school and participating in sports didn’t work.
Brookes: He frequently drank to excess. I know because I frequently drank to excess with him.
Daniel Lavan, who was in Kavanaugh’s Yale dorm his freshman year, put it even more clearly.
Lavan: I definitely saw him on multiple occasions stumbling drunk where he could not have rational control over his actions or clear recollection of them. His depiction of himself is inaccurate.
Not only did Kavanaugh present testimony about his drinking before a senate committee, it is also one of the items on the form he filled out for his security clearance. It’s not known how he responded to the questions about alcohol use on that form.

“Alumnius” — Kavanaugh’s yearbook describes him as a “Renate Alumnius.” During the hearing, Kavanagh was particularly irate and aggressive toward Democratic senators who dared to ask about this entry. He repeatedly declared that it was merely meant to “show affection” for a girl who attended a nearby Catholic school and put on a show of anger when asked about it saying that just in asking Democratic senators were “dragging her name through the mud.” But the Times found just what everyone knew to start with: “The understanding at the time was that the many yearbook references to her were boasts about sexual conquests.” Kavanaugh and his friends were the ones who savaged this young woman’s reputation, as part of a football buddies joke.

”Boofed” — Kavanaugh claimed this term referred to flatulence. It actually referred to anal sex. The quickness with which Kavanaugh came up with this response showed that it was a lie he had worked out in advance.

”Devil’s Triangle” — Kavanaugh claimed it was a drinking game. It was actually a sexual act involving two men and one woman. 

“Dr. Blasey did not attend one of those schools” — Kavanaugh claimed that his social group did not associate with girls from the private school Holton-Arms.

Multiple members of Kavanaugh’s class at Georgetown Prep disputed this.

The Times also looked at some statements that didn’t come from the Thursday hearing but from Kavanaugh’s earlier appearances. In those appearances, Kavanaugh claimed that he had done nothing wrong in using documents stolen from servers of Democratic congressmen. He also claimed that he had not worked on the nomination of Judge William H. Pryor or Judge Charles W. Pickering. On all these topics Kavanaugh … what was that phrase again? Crafted responses that were misleading or disputed. He lied.

The lies that Kavanaugh made before Thursday were more than enough to keep him off the Court. But the lies on Thursday were particularly telling because they — and the angry responses that accompanied them — were clearly not just thought out in advance, but presented as part of a scripted narrative meant to make Democrats look like the aggressors for daring to question any point of Kavanaugh’s testimony.

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