A lawyer for Mark Judge has said that Judge will talk with agents from the FBI, which is reopening a background check of Brett Kavanaugh — so the question of the moment is, what information can the FBI get out of him?
Judge is in a position to know pretty much everything there is to know about whether — and how and when — Kavanaugh sexually assaulted Christine Blasey Ford in the summer of 1982. Ford has accused Kavanaugh of drunkenly trying to tear off her clothes while groping her and covering her mouth to stifle her screams during a house party in the Maryland suburbs. She has testified that Judge was also in the locked bedroom, watching and laughing as Kavanaugh attacked her. She was 15 years old at the time, and Kavanaugh and Judge were two years older.
Several other sexual assault accusations have been leveled against the Supreme Court nominee, including an account from a woman who was a student at Yale with him and told the New Yorker that Kavanaugh drunkenly exposed himself to her and forced her to touch his penis without her consent during their freshman year. But the accusation from Ford was the centerpiece of the Senate Judiciary Committee’s extraordinary hearing on Thursday, when both Ford and Kavanaugh gave their accounts (Kavanaugh strongly denied assaulting Ford or anyone). It seems likely that the FBI will focus on Ford’s story in the coming week.
That’s why Judge is so crucial — he was allegedly there. He was a close friend of Kavanaugh’s during their years together at Georgetown Preparatory School, and in a 1997 memoir of those times, Judge wrote extensively about blackout drinking, house parties, and aggressive sexual contact with girls from other schools (Georgetown Prep is an all-boys Catholic school). Judge has stated in two letters to the Senate committee that he does not recall an event of the sort that Ford has described, but that is hardly the end of the story, as far as the FBI should be concerned.
Here are some of the questions the FBI should ask him.
This is an obvious question, and Judge has already provided an answer of sorts — that he can’t recall anything. In his second letter to the committee, submitted after Ford testified on Thursday, Judge wrote to the senators, “I do not recall the events described by Dr. Ford in her testimony before the U.S. Senate Judiciary Committee today. I never saw Brett act in the manner Dr. Ford describes.”
Judge wrote about his blackout drinking in his memoir, so his lack of recall, if that’s what it really is, does not mean everything. In the memoir, “Wasted: Tales of a GenX Drunk,” Judge acknowledged that “for years I did little else but drink, and slowly my brain and body deteriorated.” He recalled that on one occasion, waking up after a night of heavy drinking that he couldn’t remember, “I started to panic, terrified of what I could have done during the blackout. I could have done anything and not know it — I could have murdered somebody.”
So the obvious question is just the beginning of things.
This has emerged as an unexpectedly key question. Earlier this month, Kavanaugh released copies of his calendars from the summer of 1982, to show that he was away for much of the time and did not have a lot of nights on which he might have attended a gathering of the sort described by Ford. But a slightly offhand remark by Ford has turned the calendars from exculpatory to potentially incriminating.
The date of the assault is a matter of controversy. The fact that Ford hasn’t been able to pinpoint it — she has said it was sometime in the summer of 1982 — has given weight to suggestions that her memory is unreliable or the attack didn’t happen. But in her testimony to the Senate, Ford mentioned that about six to eight weeks after the assault, she ran into Judge at the Potomac Village Safeway where he was working. “I could be more helpful to everyone if I knew the date [Mark Judge] worked at the Safeway,” she said.
As it happens, Judge wrote in his book that in the summer of 1982, he worked for a few weeks at a supermarket to earn money for football camp. Camp started on August 22, according to Kavanaugh’s calendar. That would put Judge’s supermarket work in early to mid-August. As it turns out, there’s an entry on Kavanaugh’s calendar for July 1 — about six weeks before Ford saw Judge in the Safeway — in which Kavanaugh noted an outing with several of his male friends. “Go to Timmy’s for skis w/ Judge, Tom, PJ, Bernie, Squi,” it says. Kavanaugh said in his testimony that “skis” was short for “brewskis” — beer — and he gave the full names for that evening’s participants.
Ford has testified that at the small party where she was assaulted, four boys were present — “Brett Kavanaugh, Mark Judge, a boy named P.J., and one other boy whose name I cannot recall.” The July 1 entry on Kavanaugh’s calendar shows that he intended to go out with Judge, P.J. (whose full name is Patrick J. Smyth), and two others. That largely overlaps with Ford’s description of who was present during the assault.
At the dramatic Judiciary Committee meeting on Friday, during which the divided committee voted to send Kavanaugh’s nomination to the floor of the Senate, albeit with the demand, from Republican Sen. Jeff Flake of Arizona, that the FBI reopen its background check, Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse, D-R.I., held up a blowup of the calendar and asked a key question. “This may, may be powerful corroborating evidence that the assault happened, that it happened that day, and that it happened in that place,” Whitehouse said. “But with no FBI investigation, we can’t tell.”
As it happens, July 1 was a Thursday, the start of a long weekend for Independence Day. Both Kavanaugh and Judge’s pages in their 1983 yearbook reference surviving July 4. The year wasn’t specified, but 1982 would have been the most recent one. It would appear that the long weekend of July 1-4, 1982, was remarkable for them. That’s why the FBI might well want to ask Judge what happened during this weekend.
Kavanaugh has insisted that he has never blacked out or passed out from drinking, and that he never engaged in inappropriate behavior with girls. But if the accusations against him are to be believed — and there are several — he displayed a pattern in his youth of inebriated and wrong conduct. Judge would know if there was such a pattern.
Nearly the entirety of Judge’s book is about excessive drinking with his adolescent buddies. There is no mention of Brett Kavanaugh in the book — Judge did not use real names — but there is a passage where a “Bart O’Kavanaugh” is described as passing out in the back of a car after vomiting from drinking too much. (Kavanaugh, asked at the hearing whether this was him, said the question should be directed to Judge.) Kavanaugh acknowledged that he was friendly with Judge in high school, and their yearbook pages indicate no shortage of familiarity, containing several shoutouts to each other — for instance, they both mention “100 kegs,” which Judge described, in his book, as an annual beer-drinking target.
Judge wrote of a constant mixing with girls from nearby private schools at alcohol-laden parties. He described their “beach week” getaways at the end of the school year as a “week-long bacchanalia of drinking and sex, or at least attempts at sex.” It was during a beach week in the summer of 1981 that he referenced the passed-out “Bart O’Kavanaugh.” Judged added in the book, “Most of the time, everyone, including the girls, was drunk. If you could breathe and walk at the same time, you could hook up with someone. This did not mean going all the way — for the most part, these girls held to the beliefs of their very conservative families but after a year spent in school without girls, heavy petting was a virtual orgy.” He also described, in another passage, how he threw a party at his house when his parents were away and found, after nearly everyone had left, a drunken girl sobbing in an upstairs bathroom behind a locked door.
One of the accusations against Kavanaugh — when he was a freshman at Yale — represents a criminal extension of the kind of partying and behavior that Judge wrote about during their high school years. According to the New Yorker, a woman named Deborah Ramirez told Senate investigators that during their freshman year, at a party in their dormitory, Kavanaugh “had exposed himself at a drunken dormitory party, thrust his penis in her face, and caused her to touch it without her consent as she pushed him away.” Ramirez told the New Yorker that she was “embarrassed and ashamed and humiliated.” The magazine reported that she remembered Kavanaugh’s behavior as the episode came to an end. “Brett was laughing,” she said. “I can still see his face, and his hips coming forward, like when you pull up your pants.”
This sounds like a ridiculous question, but it’s not entirely. On their yearbook pages, Kavanaugh and Judge asked whether the other had, as they put it, “boofed.” There has been a lot of discussion about what this might mean, with suggestions that it might not be an activity that would be flattering for a prospective Supreme Court justice to have engaged in, even in his teenage years. The New Yorker has asked, for instance, whether it might refer to “the practice of anally ingesting alcohol or drugs.” There have been other suggestions. In the hearing on Thursday, Kavanaugh said “boofed” was a reference to farting. “If we want to talk about flatulence at age 16 on a yearbook page, I’m game,” he said, disapprovingly.
There has been a lot of skepticism over whether Kavanaugh was telling the truth about this. As Vox put it, “He says ‘boofing’ is about farting and ‘Devil’s Triangle’ is a drinking game. Many people don’t believe him.” Ordinarily, it wouldn’t be a big deal if someone fibbed in a job interview about embarrassing entries in their high school yearbook. But Kavanaugh was testifying under oath, and he is seeking a job that is extraordinary — and that ordinarily requires a high degree of public faith that the holder’s honesty can be trusted on matters small and large. Even about boofing. What’s truly perverse here is that Kavanaugh could be undone not by the allegation that he tried to rape a 15-year-old girl, but that he lied about idiotic things on his yearbook page.
Ford has consistently said she knew Kavanaugh, though not well. “In my freshman and sophomore school years, when I was 14 and 15 years old, my group of friends intersected with Brett and his friends for a short period of time,” she told the committee on Thursday. “I had been friendly with a classmate of Brett’s for a short time during my freshman year, and it was through that connection that I attended a number of parties that Brett also attended. We did not know each other well, but I knew him and he knew me.”
Kavanaugh has sidestepped a direct response to this. In an interview with Fox News last week, he stated, “I may have met her, we did not travel in the same social circle, she was not a friend, not someone I knew.”
But Ford’s version of events was bolstered at the hearing on Thursday when she was asked how she knew Kavanaugh. She mentioned that a boy she went out with for a few months was a friend of Kavanaugh’s. She was reluctant to give his name, not wanting to draw more public scrutiny to him, but the identifying information she provided made clear that she was referring to Chris Garrett, a friend of Kavanaugh’s who went by the nickname “Squi.” Kavanaugh and Garrett were on the football team together, and there are 13 references to Garrett (as “Squi”) on Kavanaugh’s calendars.
Judge was also on the football team, and his name appears on Kavanaugh’s calendar next to Squi’s on several occasions, so Judge knew Squi too, probably quite well. This means that Judge would potentially be in a position to confirm Ford’s account that she indeed socialized with Kavanaugh.