Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh wasn't a problem drinker in college, according to his own account. He made it clear at his testimony before the Senate Judiciary Committee that he certainly liked beer (and still does), but that he never got blackout drunk from it.
Statements from Brett Kavanaugh's college classmates, however, offer an account that differs significantly from his own words about himself.
Christine Blasey Ford, Deborah Ramirez, and Julie Swetnick have
accused Kavanaugh of sexual misconduct, which they all say took place around parties with alcohol. Kavanaugh has unequivocally denied all of the allegations of sexual misconduct that have come out against him. His denials have also stretched to the drinking habits that each woman says led to the alleged sexual misconduct.
Kavanaugh claimed clearly — both in a Fox News interview and in his testimony before the Senate Judiciary Committee — that
he had never drank to excess, according to The Washington Post, despite the fact that he did — and does — enjoy beer. He specifically said that he never passed out or blacked out from drinking. His Fox News interview also included the claim that he was a virgin in high school and college and remained so for several years afterward.
Those who went to school with Kavanaugh, however, have disputed both of those claims. While none of his classmates are known to have spoken with the FBI under oath, their statements about Kavanaugh are at least on the record — and here's what they said.
The most recent account of the Supreme Court nominee's drinking comes from Yale classmate
Chad Ludington, who released a statement to The New York Times claiming that "in denying the possibility that he ever blacked out from drinking, and in downplaying the degree and frequency of his drinking, Brett has not told the truth."
In his statement, Ludington also relayed an anecdote about Kavanaugh allegedly starting a fight by throwing a beer into someone's face in response to "a semi-hostile remark."
Ludington, as many people have noted on Twitter, has more than just an old connection to the intersection of drinking and politics; as a
professor of history at North Carolina State University, Ludington has written numerous publications on wine history in Britain. Lynne Brooks roomed with Ramirez at Yale, and she told CNN's Chris Cuomo that she did not believe Kavanaugh's own of his drinking to be correct — and she also said that she wasn't alone in that belief.
"A number of my Yale colleagues and I were extremely disappointed in Brett Kavanaugh’s characterization of himself and the way that he evaded his excessive drinking questions," Brooks claimed on CNN. "There is no doubt in my mind that while at Yale, he was a big partier, often drank to excess, and there had to be a number of nights where he does not remember."
Another former Yale classmate, Liz Swisher, spoke to
The Washington Post about her memories of Kavanaugh's drinking habits before he testified to the Senate, alleging that he drank heavily.
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 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.”
One of Kavanaugh's former roommates,
James Roche, came out in support of Ramirez after she made her allegation public. While his statement claimed that he and Kavanaugh didn't socialize, he did claim to know enough about Kavanaugh's drinking habits to believe Ramirez's claims over Kavanaugh's.
Although Brett was normally reserved, he was a notably heavy drinker, even by the standards of the time, and that he became belligerent and aggressive when he was very drunk," Roche wrote in his statement.
Kit Winter told The Cut that he
moved into the suite that Kavanaugh and Roche shared in the fall of 1983, and he backed up Roche's claims of Kavanaugh as someone who “frequently [drank] excessively and [became] incoherently drunk.”
“I have thought a lot about Kavanaugh’s statement on Fox, that he never drank so much that he didn’t remember what he had done the next morning," Winter told The Cut. "And having witnessed the level of drunkenness of Brett and his crew in that dorm, and the vomitous aftermath in the bathroom, I find that very hard to believe."
Winter — an out gay man who told The Cut that he felt very out of place at Yale when he was a student there — also said that he arrived at his suite only to see that a dead pigeon had been nailed onto his door. He never figured out anything about who did it.
Kavanaugh isn't without defenders among his former classmates.
Georgetown Prep classmate Tom Kane told The Washington Post that Kavanaugh's drinking was never a problem.
“Drinking was prevalent in high school, but some guys handled it better than others, and Brett always maintained his composure,” Kane claimed. “He was not a stumbling drunk. He was never all that interested in getting wasted.”
Chris Dudley, a former NBA player and a Yale classmate and friend of Kavanaugh, also
backed up the judge, telling BuzzFeed News that "when he went out Friday nights, [he] was usually with him."
"I never, ever saw him blacked out, never," Dudley said. "Brett would drink, but he'd also be the guy who never missed a class. There's a reason he was top of his class."
An Anonymous Yale Classmate
In addition to all of the Yale classmates of Kavanaugh's who came out on the record, Molly Hensley-Clancy at BuzzFeed News also spoke with
another Yale classmate who preferred to remain unnamed. She told BuzzFeed that she'd often drank with him, and while she didn't ever see him get belligerent, she did often find him passed out.
“He drank a lot — he wasn’t falling asleep reading a book,” she told BuzzFeed.
Rather than going directly to a news organization, Yale classmate Stephen Kantrowitz took to Twitter to say that he had reportedly heard Kavanaugh contradicting the claim on Fox News that he had been a virgin for long after college. He later released a
statement to HuffPost on the subject, disputing Kavanaugh's claim.
“Contrary to his assertion that he remained a virgin ‘for many years’ after high school, during our freshman year he described losing his virginity,” Kantrowitz told the publication. “I remember this distinctly because it was the first time I had had such a conversation with an acquaintance who was not a friend."
Unless someone happens to have recorded some of the instances that Kavanaugh and his classmates have described, all of these stories are likely to remain exactly that — stories. However, they do offer voices on the story that were missing from the testimony in front of the Senate on Thursday.
If you or someone you know has been sexually assaulted, call the National Sexual Assault Telephone Hotline at 800-656-HOPE (4673) or visit online.rainn.org.