Last Saturday, I called the FBI to offer information potentially useful to its investigation into Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh’s alleged sexual misconduct. Like many others, I hoped that the FBI inquiry would shed additional light on the serious but uncorroborated accusations against Kavanaugh. The FBI never returned my call.
I went to college at Yale with Kavanaugh, lived in the same residential halls, and graduated with him in 1987. We did not move in the same circles: I went to a public high school located in a factory town in upstate New York, while he came from the nation’s capital and attended one of its premier prep schools. I have only vague memories of him and his activities.
However, his alleged misconduct against another of our Yale ’87 classmates, Debbie Ramirez, occurred during the academic year 1983-84 at a party in a “common room” on the first floor of Lawrance Hall, where Kavanaugh and I both lived during our freshman year. The hall was divided into four sections, referred to by the letters of their corresponding entryways. Based on what has been alleged and reported, the incident may have happened near entryway “B.” I lived on the first floor of entryway “A,” and Kavanaugh in entryway “D.”
Though I did not attend the party, I was able to dig up an old yearbook and draw up a list of people I thought the FBI probably should interview. That list consists of residents of entryway “B” and others who might recall the event. Some of those names have surfaced in news reports, but others have not.
I was never able to provide that list to an FBI agent. My first thought was that the FBI probably already had the information I was offering and was on top of things.
I have since learned from other former Lawrance Hall friends and neighbors that many of them similarly offered potentially useful tips to the FBI. The FBI has not bothered getting back in touch with them, either. Ramirez’ lawyer reported that he provided an extensive list of possible witnesses. He claimed that none has been contacted so far. Kavanaugh’s own former roommate similarly asserted that his offer to provide information has been rebuffed. All the evidence at hand suggests that the FBI has not reached out to people it should contact for a thorough investigation.
As a professor of political science for 25 years, I have been happy to recommend some of my best undergraduates to the FBI for employment. A number of them presently work for the FBI. I am sure they are doing valuable work.
But a serious investigation into the allegations against Kavanaugh would require speaking with a broad array of possible witnesses to the Kavanaugh-Ramirez incident. Not an open-ended fishing trip, but conversations with those who attended the party where the event may have transpired, or who lived in dorm rooms in immediate proximity to Lawrance Hall entryway “B.” News about such an incident would have spread fast in our insular little world, and if it occurred there must be others who can speak to it.
The FBI has not conducted that investigation. With the White House and Senate Republicans steering things and aggressively pushing for closure, it is hard to imagine how it could have done so. Most likely, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) will soon be declaring that Kavanaugh has been thoroughly vetted, and that the investigation has confirmed there is no substance to the allegations against him.
In reality, it seems this “investigation” is just another partisan game being played to win over a few wavering Senate votes. The GOP leadership may well succeed in doing so. But who loses? Not just Christine Blasey Ford and Debbie Ramirez, who deserve better for stepping forward and risking so much, but also the American people, who need the FBI to be able to do its job free of hyper-partisan political pressure.
William Scheuerman is a professor of political science at Indiana University. He is also a member of the Yale class of 1987.
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