"Brett was a sloppy drunk": Kavanaugh's Yale classmates remember his college years a bit differently than he does

At least 5 of Kavanaugh's former classmates have refuted parts of his Senate testimony, especially his drinking habits.
October 2, 2018, 3:24pm

Brett Kavanaugh, the embattled Supreme Court nominee, isn’t getting a lot of love from some of his former Yale University classmates, who have come forward with stories of him belligerent and drunk during his time at the elite university.

But as an FBI investigation into his alleged misconduct pushes forward, he could use their backing.

For one thing, Kavanaugh might’ve pushed some of his former classmates to defend him against the allegations of sexual misconduct — before those allegations even became public. Now, the FBI has to wrap up its investigation in the next few days. And the White House recently expanded the scope of the investigation to allow interviews with anyone the FBI deems necessary, so long as investigators keep to their one-week deadline, the New York Times reported.

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Meanwhile, at least one of Kavanaugh’s former classmates wants to talk to the FBI and share some text messages that pertain to the allegations against him. Still, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell plans to hold a vote on Kavanaugh’s confirmation later this week. During sworn testimony last week to refute Christine Blasey Ford’s accusations of sexual assault back in the 1980s, Kavanaugh tried to paint himself as a choir boy and repeatedly said that, sure, he drank beer in high school, but he'd never blacked out. He also said the claims of sexual misconduct and belligerent drinking against him came as a shock and played out like a “political hit” from the Democrats.

Here’s what Kavanaugh’s former classmates at Yale have to say about his past:

Kerry Berchem and Karen Yarasavage

Berchem attended Yale with Kavanaugh and one of his accusers, Deborah Ramirez, who said Kavanaugh exposed himself to her and thrust her penis in her face at a college party in the 1980s. Berchem said she has a slew of text messages, which NBC News has reviewed, that she’s trying to get to the FBI. As of Monday night, however, investigators hadn’t contacted her. In the text messages between Berchem and Karen Yarasavage, another Yale alumna, Yarasavage said Kavanaugh contacted her, potentially about Ramirez’s allegations before they were even published in The New Yorker, according to NBC News. Kavanaugh, however, has said he hadn’t heard of Ramirez’s allegations until they came out in the New Yorker story.

Kavanaugh’s team also communicated with former classmates, according to NBC.

“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,” Berchem, a partner in a law firm, said in a statement to NBC News. “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."

Yarasavage once texted Berchem that she had shared a smiling photo of Kavanaugh at a 1997 wedding with Ramirez — they were both in the wedding party — with Kavanaugh’s team. But Kavanaugh said during his sworn testimony last week that he was only “probably” at a wedding with Ramirez and didn’t have any specific recollection of interacting with her. In an interview with staff members of the Senate Judiciary Committee on Sept. 25, following the New Yorker story, Kavanaugh said Ramirez had been trying to call classmates to back up her own account. “It sounds like an orchestrated hit to take me out,” Kavanaugh said, according to public transcripts.

Chad Ludington

Another former Yale classmate, Chad Ludington, said he “cringed” at Kavanaugh’s testimony last week, when the federal judge he said he “liked beer” but wasn’t a heavy drinker. “When Brett got drunk, he was belligerent and aggressive. On one of the last occasions I purposely socialized with Brett, I witnessed him respond to a semi-hostile remark, not by defusing the situation but by throwing his beer in a man's face and starting a fight that ended with one of our mutual friends in jail," Ludington said in a statement to CNN. Elaborating to the Washington Post, Ludington said that Kavanaugh “threw his drink” at a man that a small group of students mistakenly believed to be the lead singer of the band UB40. The fight took place after a concert in September 1985 at a bar called Demery’s in New Haven after the man became aggressive about the mistaken identity issue. Kavanaugh and the man fought along with a few other students, Ludington said. Kavanaugh was never arrested or charged with a crime but was questioned by police.

Liz Swisher

Liz Swisher, a friend of Kavanaugh’s at Yale who’s now a University of Washington professor and physician, also told CNN that Kavanaugh drank heavily. She was also Ramirez’s college roommate.

“Brett was a sloppy drunk, and I know because I drank with him. I watched him drink more than a lot of people. He’d end up slurring his words, stumbling,” Swisher told the Washington Post. “There’s no medical way I can say that he was blacked out …. But it’s not credible for him to say that he has had no memory lapses in the nights that he drank to excess.”

Lynne Brookes, another Yale alumna and former roommate of Ramirez, also said she recalled seeing Kavanaugh “ridiculously drunk” during his fraternity days, according to the Washington Post. Both women, who know Ramirez, have said they believe her account, although she didn’t tell either of them about her accusation.

Cover image: President Donald Trump's Supreme Court nominee, Brett Kavanaugh testifies before the Senate Judiciary Committee on Capitol Hill in Washington, Thursday, Sept. 6, 2018, for the third day of his confirmation hearing to replace retired Justice Anthony Kennedy. (AP Photo/Alex Brandon)