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Kavanaugh supporter: ‘We have all the information we need’ on Yale allegation

Travis Lenkner, a former law clerk for Judge Brett Kavanaugh, says the Supreme Court nominee is expecting to go to the hearing into alleged sexual misconduct on Thursday to look the senators in the eye and clear his name. Lenkner speaks with Judy Woodruff about the second allegation of sexual misconduct about the judge’s days at Yale.

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  • Judy Woodruff:

    And now we hear from a supporter and a friend of Judge Brett Kavanaugh. Travis Lenkner is a former clerk for the nominee. He's now an attorney in Chicago.

    Travis Lenkner, welcome to the "NewsHour."

    Does Judge Kavanaugh think that he is going to get a fair hearing on Thursday?

  • Travis Lenkner:

    Judge Kavanaugh looks forward to the hearing on Thursday. And he has been looking forward to the chance to testify under oath before the Senate Judiciary Committee since he started asking them for the opportunity to do that more than a week ago, when the allegation from Dr. Ford was first published in The Washington Post.

    So I know that now that about eight days will have passed since he was wanting that opportunity. He's looking forward, frankly, to the chance to testify under oath, and to do so publicly. He's already spoken to the committee multiple times on background investigation calls, under penalty of felony.

    But to testify publicly, to tell his story, and to do so under oath to the committee and to the American people is something that he's wanted to do for many days now.

  • Judy Woodruff:

    The questions are still out there, Travis Lenkner, about why the committee, why Judge Kavanaugh haven't wanted to have an FBI investigation of these charges?

    You just heard Senator Coons bring it up again. Why not? What's wrong with that?

  • Travis Lenkner:

    Well, Judge Kavanaugh has said he will do whatever the Senate Judiciary Committee asks him to do. And he's gone through every step of the process that they have put in front of him.

    So he's the nominee. It's not for him to comment on what process the Senate should be running. It's their Article 1 advise and consent responsibility that they're executing at this point.

    So he's answered all the questions that they have put in front of him. I would say, though, the FBI background investigation really would serve to gather witness statements from other people who were supposedly at the events that are in question.

    The Senate Judiciary Committee has gathered statements in terms of Dr. Ford's allegation. Everyone else that Dr. Ford named as having been present at the gathering has now given a statement on the record to the Senate Judiciary Committee saying that they don't remember that gathering or any of the conduct alleged.

    And in the case of a female, a woman who was there, one of Dr. Ford's best friends from that period, said she doesn't even think she knows Brett Kavanaugh. So the committee already has the sorts of witness statements, I think, that they would be getting from the FBI, if the FBI were the ones taking the statements instead.

  • Judy Woodruff:

    I think — I hear what you're saying. I also hear others say that, but when the FBI is out there doing the investigation, asking the questions, that it's — that people feel more compelled to come forward with the whole story.

    And you could apply that to these second set of accusations now that have come from the woman who says that Judge Kavanaugh, when he was a freshman at Yale, exposed himself to her.

  • Travis Lenkner:

    Well, as to the second allegation, Judy, I think what's important for viewers to remember is that this is a story that The New York Times itself refused to run.

    There's not a single eyewitness who corroborates the story. And that's after both "The New Yorker" and The New York Times reported that each outlet had spoken to dozens, dozens of Judge Kavanaugh's classmates and contemporaries without finding anyone to corroborate it.

    And there are statements on the record from people who knew him at the time who say that that not only is out of character for what they knew of him, but that it would have been the talk of campus and the talk of the dormitory had anything like that occurred.

    So, again, I think we have all the information we need, not to mention The New York Times reporting that, as recently as last week, the accuser in that episode was e-mailing friends and classmates from Yale saying that she herself could not be sure that it was Judge Kavanaugh she was remembering.

  • Judy Woodruff:

    Well, we know The New York Times is saying that it doesn't dispute or knock down the "New Yorker" story.

    But I would just want to say you're saying that there are those who — you're right. There were no eyewitnesses who have come forward at all at Yale, but there are people who knew Judge Kavanaugh as a freshman.

    In fact, his roommate has put out a statement, his freshman roommate, saying, among other things, that Brett Kavanaugh was a notably heavy drinker and could be belligerent.

    So, from some people, him and others, we're getting a different picture of how much drinking took place, not just at — in college, but also in high school.

  • Travis Lenkner:

    Well, Judge Kavanaugh, in his interview last night, acknowledged that he, like I think all of us, may have had times as a young boy or a young girl, a young man or woman, when he would look back and cringe or say he wished he had behaved differently.

    But those things are far from what has been alleged here. Sexual assault is abhorrent. Judge Kavanaugh, I can't even believe I have to give TV interviews to say this, finds it so, and has said he didn't do that in high school, he didn't do that at any time.

    So I know there will be a discussion in the hearing about behavior during those phases of his life. But even to say that someone drank beer in high school or in college is a far cry from saying that a sexual assault ever came close to occurring.

  • Judy Woodruff:

    I'm just learning now, Travis Lenkner, from our producer that the Judiciary Committee is now saying there will be a vote on Friday morning.

    So that would be a vote the day after the committee hears from Judge Kavanaugh and from Dr. Blasey Ford.

    Just very quickly, does Judge Kavanaugh expect that he will be confirmed, as the Senate majority leader has said?

  • Travis Lenkner:

    I can't speak for his expectations, other than I know he's expecting to go to the hearing on Thursday, to tell the truth, to look every member of the committee in the eye, and to be very — unfortunately, to have to be very express and personal about a younger phase in his life and intimate details of his life.

    But he wants to do that, frankly, not because he wants the job, though I know he does. But it's far more important for him to defend his integrity and clear his name and make sure people know the type of person he really is.

  • Judy Woodruff:

    Travis Lenkner, who was a clerk for Judge Kavanaugh on the appellate court, thank you very much.

  • Travis Lenkner:

    Thank you.

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