Libel? NBC News Manufactures Text Messages Story to Claim Kavanaugh Lied Under Oath
On Monday, NBC News uncritically published a manufactured hit from lawyer Kerry Berchem, who attended Yale at the same time as Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh, and his second sexual assault accuser, Deborah Ramirez. According to NBC News, Berchem has a smoking gun in the Kavanaugh confirmation battle — text messages that prove the nominee lied under oath.
The texts prove no such thing, however. Instead, they merely confirm that Kavanaugh knew that Ramirez planned to go public with accusations against him, and he readied a defense. Indeed, NBC News had to twist the nominee's testimony out of recognition to make it seem like he had lied under oath.
George Hartmann, a spokesman for Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa), said it best. "The texts from Ms. Berchem do not appear relevant or contradictory to Judge Kavanaugh's testimony," he told NBC News. "This appears to be another last-ditch effort to derail the nomination with baseless innuendo by Democrats who have already decided to vote no."
So what is the "baseless innuendo"? NBC News's Heidi Przybyla and Leigh Ann Caldwell, apparently working off of a document written by Berchem, claimed that text messages between Berchem and Karen Yarasavage — both friends of Kavanaugh — show the nominee was discussing Ramirez's allegations before they broke in The New Yorker on September 23.
Yet Kavanaugh claimed, under oath, that he first heard of Ramirez's allegations "in The New Yorker story."
NBC News also quoted an interview the nominee gave with Republican Judiciary Committee staff on September 25, two days after the Ramirez allegations were reported. The nominee claimed that Ramirez was "calling around to classmates trying to see if they remembered it." This "strikes me as, you know, what is going on here? When someone is calling around to try to refresh other people? Is that what’s going on? What’s going on with that? That doesn’t sound — that doesn’t sound — good to me. It doesn’t sound fair. It doesn’t sound proper. It sounds like an orchestrated hit to take me out."
NBC News's Przybyla and Caldwell included this testimony to make Kavanaugh seem like a hypocrite. They wrote that the nominee "claimed that it was Ramirez who was 'calling around to classmates,'" even though he was doing the same thing.
Even this insinuation is easily debunked, by referencing the very testimony Przybyla and Caldwell quoted. Indeed, the very sentence about "calling around to classmates" comes from this sentence: "The New York Times says as recently as last week, she was calling around to other classmates saying she wasn't sure I had done this." Kavanaugh was referencing the New York Times editorial note explaining why the Times refused to publish the story — they could not back up Ramirez's claims, despite reaching out to would-be witnesses.
As Kavanaugh himself noted, "The New York Times couldn't corroborate this story and found that she was calling around to classmates trying to see if they remembered it."
Since both The New Yorker and The New York Times were reaching out to sources to try to verify the story (for at least a week), it stands to reason they reached out to Kavanaugh, or that the sources they contacted would alert the nominee about forthcoming allegations. Indeed, since Ramirez was contacting former classmates on her story, it seems likely those classmates would also reach out to Kavanaugh.
It stands to reason, however, that the first time the nominee heard the specifics of Ramirez's allegation would have been in the New Yorker story. As AG Conservative suggested on Twitter, "He didn't know the specific allegation, but he had every reason to try to pre-empt something from her."
"How does NBC print that article without acknowledging that the very same testimony they are citing included him mentioning he had heard about her having some accusation against him for weeks? Which explains why he was trying to pre-empt her accusation," AG Conservative added, blasting the article as "pure and intentional dishonesty."
Worse, the NBC News story did not mention that Kavanaugh himself was quoted in the New Yorker story, which means The New Yorker had to ask the nominee about the allegation before publication.
While this ridiculously false attack constituted the majority of the NBC hit piece on Kavanaugh, Przybyla and Caldwell also included another charge of lying — in this case a felony. They claimed the nominee lied about a wedding he had attended with Ramirez.
Berchem's texts revealed that Kavanaugh "obtained a copy of a photograph of a small group of friends from Yale at a 1997 wedding in order to show himself smiling alongside Ramirez 10 years after they graduated. Both were in the wedding party: Kavanaugh was a groomsman and Ramirez a bridesmaid at the wedding."
"But when Kavanaugh was asked about the wedding during a committee interview on Sept. 25th, he said he was 'probably' at a wedding with Ramirez. Asked if he interacted with her at the wedding, Kavanaugh replied, 'I am sure I saw her because it wasn’t a huge wedding,' but added that he 'doesn’t have a specific recollection,'" NBC News reported.
Then Przybyla and Caldwell added, "Lying to Congress is a felony whether testimony is taken under oath or not."
But was Kavanaugh lying? NBC News argued that Kavanaugh himself received the wedding photo, but it only directly mentioned one text about it: "On Sept, 22nd, Yarasavage texted Berchem that she had shared the photo with 'Brett’s team.'" So the team had the photo — that doesn't mean the nominee himself lied about the wedding. Even if he had the photo personally, the nominee's recollection of the wedding might be hazy.
Each of the sexual assault claims against Kavanaugh has fallen apart. Julie Swetnick, who claimed the nominee took part in gang rapes in high school, was sued for defamation and fraud for false sexual assault claims. As for Christine Blasey Ford, prosecutor Rachel Mitchell thoroughly eviscerated her allegation in a memo published Monday.
For this reason, liberals and the media have started pushing another angle — Kavanaugh lied under oath! Having failed on sexual assault, they are pushing for a process crime. Charles Ludington told the FBI Kavanaugh was a "belligerent and aggressive drunk," and suggested the nominee lied under oath when saying he did not black out from drinking. Democrats have also seized on terms in the nominee's high school yearbook, arguing that he lied when he explained their meaning.
Rather than investigate Christine Blasey Ford's claims privately, Democrats used them as a last-ditch weapon against Kavanaugh. When the nominee's reputation was destroyed and his family embarrassed, they attacked him for getting angry at being so publicly accused of allegations he claims were false. Now, they're using legal technicalities to destroy him.
Every American needs to know the depths to which these Democrats descended. Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.), who voted for Obama's Supreme Court nominees Elena Kagan and Sonia Sotomayor, rightly denounced this farce. It should cost Democrats dearly in November — every Republican needs to be motivated to vote because of this horrendous smear campaign.
Follow the author of this article on Twitter at @Tyler2ONeil.