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Politics & Government

'New Yorker' Publishes Another Sexual Misconduct Allegation Against Kavanaugh

RACHEL MARTIN, HOST:

Another woman is accusing Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh of sexual misconduct. Her name is Deborah Ramirez, and she went to Yale with Kavanaugh in the 1980s. She says during a drunken dorm party, Kavanaugh exposed himself to her. Kavanaugh is denying the allegation. He released a statement calling it a, quote, "smear, plain and simple." On Thursday, Kavanaugh is set to testify before the Senate Judiciary Committee about the sexual assault allegation from Christine Blasey Ford. She's also expected to testify that day. Now the senior Democrat on the committee, Dianne Feinstein, is calling for the entire proceeding to be put on hold because of this second allegation. Here's Democrat Patty Murray.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

PATTY MURRAY: How the Senate handles this will be a test of this time.

MARTIN: We're joined now by Jane Mayer. She reported this story with Ronan Farrow for The New Yorker. Jane, thanks for being here.

JANE MAYER: Great to be with you.

MARTIN: There are a lot of caveats in this piece. You write that it took six days of Ramirez, quote, "assessing her memories" before she was comfortable naming Kavanaugh as the young man who did this. Do you believe she's telling the truth?

MAYER: Well, I do. But I think that the most important thing is that she's calling for an FBI investigation, which can really assess it better than I can really. They can put people under oath and interview them, so her and the people that she names who were at the party.

MARTIN: Why was she so hesitant, though, to implicate Kavanaugh?

MAYER: I think given the environment we're in right now where there's just so much anger and so much on the line and so much partisan rancor, I think anybody would be quite reluctant to weigh into this unless they were very certain of what they wanted to say and what they remembered.

MARTIN: Although you write in the piece she admits there are large gaps in her memory of this event.

MAYER: She's been remarkably I think forthcoming about what she does know, what she does remember, what she doesn't. And the piece is I think also - we made a big effort to put across both sides what everybody is saying about it and what's known and what's not known. Again, it's such disputed and rancorous territory. You've got to be really careful here. But I think we've really allowed her to tell her story for the first time. We were the only people she talked to.

MARTIN: Was anyone else able to corroborate her claim?

MAYER: What we describe in the story is that there was a classmate who has remembered this for 35 years. He learned about it that night or he said maybe the next day. And he remembered all the details almost identically to what she has said, though the two of them have never talked. And then he began to speak - he's a classmate from Yale - he began to tell other people about it long ago. I mean, the classmates have been talking about this for a while.

And when Kavanaugh was named to the court, they began to email back and forth with each other - people who had heard a little bit about this. And they were comparing notes. This was in July before any other sexual misconduct charges came up against Kavanaugh. And we've looked at the emails to see them.

MARTIN: Though some of Kavanaugh's college friends are insisting no such thing ever happened, as you articulate in the piece. Kavanaugh himself says this is a smear campaign. Can you say categorically that Ramirez is not motivated politically in any way?

MAYER: Well, she says she's not. And, you know, I actually interviewed some of the people who have come out in support of Kavanaugh from the class publicly and said, do you think she's politically motivated? And they declined to say she was. They're the people who know both of these people. And they're not - they're saying actually, no, we really don't see any reason to believe she's politically motivated.

MARTIN: There was news over the weekend that another Kavanaugh accuser, Christine Blasey Ford, has now agreed to testify before the Senate Judiciary Committee on Thursday even though the ranking Democrat, Dianne Feinstein, now calling for that hearing to be canceled. Do we know whether Deborah Ramirez has been asked to testify before the committee about this allegation? Or if asked, would she accept?

MAYER: I don't know. It's just moving really fast. What I do know is that Dianne Feinstein, the ranking Democrat, asked for a delay. She wants the FBI to investigate this.

MARTIN: Yeah.

MAYER: And that's what the lawyer for Ramirez and what Ramirez want. They want - they're calling for an FBI investigation to try to get to the bottom of it.

MARTIN: Jane Mayer, chief Washington correspondent at The New Yorker magazine, thanks so much.

MAYER: Great to be with you. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.