As the supplemental FBI investigation of Supreme Court Nominee Brett Kavanaugh now supposedly moves ahead without the previous limitations on interview subjects imposed by the White House, NBC News is reporting that at least one Yale classmate with valuable information has yet to be contacted by anyone from the bureau.
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Kerry Berchem, a mutual friend of both Kavanaugh and Deborah Ramirez, the woman who has accused Trump’s nominee of thrusting his penis into her face at a drunken Yale dorm party, has potentially explosive evidence that Kavanaugh may have perjured himself in front of the Senate Judiciary Committee last Thursday when he claimed that the first time he learned about Ms. Ramirez’s allegations was when he read about them in the same New Yorker article that initially exposed them to the world.
Ms. Berchem says that she has text messages that indicate that Kavanaugh and his team were communicating with former classmates behind the scenes to help refute Ms. Ramirez’s accusations well before the New Yorker article was published.
According to NBC:
“The texts between Berchem and Karen Yarasavage, both friends of Kavanaugh, suggest that the nominee was personally talking with former classmates about Ramirez’s story in advance of the New Yorker article that made her allegation public. In one message, Yarasavage said Kavanaugh asked her to go on the record in his defense. Two other messages show communication between Kavanaugh’s team and former classmates in advance of the story.”
The texts also indicate that Kavanaugh and Ramirez were aligned more closely in their social circles than previously disclosed and that Kavanaugh reached out to friends to get a copy of a photograph from Yarasavage’s 1997 wedding—in which he and Ms. Ramirez were both in the bridal party—in order to show himself smiling alongside her 10 years after they graduated.
Ms. Berchem says, however, that at the wedding Ramirez did everything she could to avoid Kavanaugh.
“Ramirez, ‘clung to me’ at the wedding, Berchem wrote to Yarasavage in a Sept. 24th text message recalling the event. ‘She never went near them,’ a reference to Kavanaugh and his friends. Even in the group photo, Berchem wrote, Ramirez was trying to keep away from Kavanaugh,” NBC News reported.
Indeed, in the photo in question, Ramirez is on the other side of the group from the embattled nominee.
In a statement to NBC News, Ms. Berchem, now a partner in the law firm Akin Gump, said:
“I understand that President Trump and the U.S. Senate have ordered an FBI investigation into certain allegations of sexual misconduct by the nominee Brett Kavanaugh. I have no direct or indirect knowledge about any of the allegations against him. However, I am in receipt of text messages from a mutual friend of both Debbie and mine that raise questions related to the allegations. I have not drawn any conclusions as to what the texts may mean or may not mean but I do believe they merit investigation by the FBI and the Senate.“
Berchem initially reached out with the information she had about the texts to Judiciary Committee member Senator Richard Blumenthal (D-CT) from her home state.
“We heard from Kerry late on Thursday and submitted her summary to the Judiciary Committee early Friday,” a spokeswoman for Blumenthal said in a statement to NBC News. “After we were made to jump through several hoops that delayed our moving forward, it became clear that the majority Committee staff had not turned this summary over to the FBI and, in fact, had no intention of turning it over to the FBI. With our assistance, Kerry submitted her summary to the FBI herself.”
So far Ms. Berchem has not yet been contacted by the FBI about the texts, most of which predate the publication of the New Yorker article on September 23rd. According to NBC News:
“Kavanaugh was asked by Sen. Orrin Hatch, R-Utah, when he first heard of Ramirez’s allegations. Kavanaugh answered: ‘In the New Yorker story.’”
“A September 24 text shows Yarasavage clarifying that she did not refute Ramirez’s claims to the New Yorker. Republicans and Kavanaugh have said that his former classmates, who gave an anonymous statement to the New Yorker, have refuted Ramirez’s claim.”
“’I didn’t say I would have known … I said she never told me, I never heard a word of this ever happening and never saw it. The media surmised (that I was saying she is lying),’ said Yarasavage.”
If the texts do prove that Kavanaugh perjured himself when he claimed to not have heard about the allegations by Ms. Ramirez before the publication of the article, if he was indeed personally contacting old classmates to cover his butt before the article was published, he should automatically be disqualified from confirmation.
The question remains, why hasn’t the FBI contacted Kerry Berchem?
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Original reporting by Heidi Przybyla and Leigh Ann Caldwell at NBC News