In Brief

Did Brett Kavanaugh lie under oath?

Acquaintances of the Supreme Court nominee say his claims to Senate committee didn’t add up

The nomination of Brett Kavanaugh to the Supreme Court has become one of the most talked-about news stories of the Trump era. Allegations of sexual assault made against the judge by psychology professor Christine Blasey Ford have prompted a furious war of words between Republicans and Democrats.

The decision to delay the Senate vote to confirm Kavanaugh while a full FBI investigation is conducted has provided a “nice breather” from the chaos, says The Observer

But regardless of the intelligence service's findings, Kavanaugh's appearance before the Senate Judiciary Committee last week may prove costly to his Supreme Court bid, with a number of people and media outlets claiming that he repeatedly lied under oath.

If those allegations are true, he may have committed perjury, which is punishable in the US with a prison sentence of up to five years.

So what exactly is being claimed about Kavanaugh, and did he lie?

His drinking

Much has been made of Kavanaugh’s drinking and its role in the alleged incident with Ford, a professor at Palo Alto University in California. She claimed that Kavanaugh was “visibly drunk” when he assaulted her, reports HuffPost, which adds that it was “possible Kavanaugh had drunk too much to remember the event”.

Kavanaugh told the Senate committee that although he “liked beer” and still does, he never once drank to the point of causing even slight lapses in memory. 

This is the most disputed element of his testimony. Yesterday his one-time roommate at Yale University, James Roche, told CNN that Kavanaugh had been a “heavy drinker” and became “aggressive and belligerent when he was very drunk”.

A former classmate, Chad Ludington, also described Kavanaugh as “belligerent and aggressive” when intoxicated. 

Liz Swisher, another former university acquaintance, remembered Kavanaugh as a “partier” and a “sloppy drunk”.

“There’s no problem with drinking beer in college," she said. "The problem is lying about it.”

Witnesses

One of Kavanaugh’s key assertions was that the witnesses present on the night of the alleged attack refute Ford’s claims. 

“All four witnesses who were allegedly at the event have said it didn’t happen, including Dr Ford’s long-time friend, Ms [Leland] Keyser,” Kavanaugh said to Senator Christopher A. Coons. 

When asked why he had not attempted to facilitate an FBI investigation into the allegations, Kavanaugh repeated: “All four witnesses who are alleged to be at the event said it didn’t happen.”

“This is false,” says The Washington Post, which notes that three of the witnesses “said they have no memory of the event, which is very, very different from refuting the idea that the event ever took place”. The fourth witness was Kavanaugh himself, the newspaper notes.

Following his testimony, Keyser clarified to the Post that although her memory of the night was unclear, she believed Ford’s allegation.

Ramirez accusations

After Ford’s allegations came to light, another woman, Kavanaugh’s Yale classmate Deborah Ramirez, told The New Yorker that the Supreme Court nominee once shoved his penis into her face in a separate incident.

Testifying under oath at the hearing, Kavanaugh was questioned by Republican Senator Orrin Hatch about when he learned about this second allegation.

“In the period since then, The New Yorker story,” Kavanaugh replied. The story was published on 23 September.

However, a series of private text messages obtained by NBC News indicate that Kavanaugh and his legal team were “communicating behind the scenes with friends to refute the claim” days before the story was printed.

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