WASHINGTON ― Senators are expected to weigh the credibility of Dr. Christine Blasey Ford, a woman who has accused Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh of sexual assault, when she testifies before the Senate Judiciary Committee on Thursday.
But Kavanaugh, too, will be under pressure to demonstrate his credibility when it comes to statements he has made in the past week regarding the incident that allegedly took place when they were both teens in high school.
During a Fox News interview with his wife, the nominee sought to downplay his involvement in what’s been described as a raucous drinking culture at Georgetown Prep, the private all-boys high school in Maryland that he attended in the 1980s.
Kavanaugh told host Martha MacCallum on Monday that back then he was focused on “trying to be No. 1 in my class and being captain of the varsity basketball team and doing my service projects, going to church” and that a “vast majority of the time I spent in high school was studying or focused on sports and being a good friend to the boys and the girls that I was friends with.” He also said he was a virgin in high school and for “many years thereafter.”
His portrayal of himself as a wholesome young man was clearly meant to rebut allegations from both Blasey and Deborah Ramirez, a second woman who came forward over the weekend and accused Kavanaugh of exposing his penis to her when they were both attending Yale University. In both allegations, which the high-court nominee has denied, Kavanaugh was described as heavily intoxicated, and his drinking has been mentioned by others as a factor that significantly affected his behavior.
The notion that Kavanaugh was a choir boy was undercut again when his freshman roommate at Yale released a statement following the Fox News interview that described him as “a heavy drinker” who became “aggressive and belligerent” when drunk. “Based on my time with Brett, I believe that he and his social circle were capable of the actions that Debbie [Ramirez] described,” James Roche said Monday.
Kavanaugh’s case may also have suffered after The New York Times published an article the same day detailing his high school yearbook page, which included apparent references to drinking and partying. He and his friends appeared to boast about their supposed sexual conquest of a young woman from a neighboring school, a reference she described as “hurtful,” according to the Times.
Democratic lawmakers said Tuesday that Kavanaugh’s answers in the Fox News interview brought up more questions about whether he has been fully truthful with the American people.
“I think he raised issues as to credibility, claiming facts that may be untrue,” Sen. Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.), who sits on the Senate Judiciary Committee, told HuffPost.
Blumenthal also signaled that at Thursday’s hearing, Democrats plan to ask Kavanaugh about his yearbook page, which the senator described as a “minefield.”
Sen. Ron Wyden (D-Ore.), meanwhile, said Kavanaugh’s comments this week and the latest revelations underscored the need to reopen the FBI background investigation into the nominee.
“It seems to me the nominee himself would ... say, ‘I believe I’m innocent. Here we are every few hours having something else be brought to light. I ought to ask the president to open an FBI investigation and clear my name,’” Wyden said.
Republicans, however, told HuffPost that they weren’t concerned about Kavanaugh facing credibility problems given his comments this week. They said they were looking forward to hearing from Blasey before voting on the nomination.
“I thought he was very truthful about the facts at hand, and so I don’t think that will be a problem,” Sen. Shelley Moore Capito (R-W.Va.) said on Tuesday.
Sen. James Lankford (R-Okla.) declared he had no reason to doubt Kavanaugh’s description of his life as a young man. The senator sought to draw a distinction between allegations of sexual assault and questions over alcohol consumption.
“If he’s going to make a blanket denial, then he’s going to have to back that up,” Lankford said of Kavanaugh’s portrayal of his high school years. “But it’s one thing for him to be able to talk about sexual assault; it’s another thing to talk about drinking.”
“Obviously, he hasn’t hidden the fact that he drank a lot in high school and college,” Lankford claimed, although he noted that he had not watched the Fox News interview in its entirety.
While Democrats on the Senate Judiciary Committee plan to question Kavanaugh and Blasey directly on Thursday, Republican panel members said they will rely on an unnamed woman as outside counsel to do it for them.
The move probably has something to do with the fact that every GOP senator on the committee is male, and they don’t want to be seen as bullying a woman who is speaking out about being sexually assaulted ― especially with the midterm elections just weeks away.
“I think it’s really smart of them to get outside counsel,” Sen. Bob Corker (R-Tenn.) told reporters on Tuesday.
When asked why, Corker said, “Somebody will do something that you guys will run 24/7, and inadvertently somebody will do something that’s insensitive.”