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Ronan Farrow: Yale classmate ‘extraordinarily careful’ in accusing Kavanaugh

The New Yorker reported Sunday night that a woman who knew Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh in college says that he exposed himself to her at a party freshman year. Kavanaugh has categorically denied this story, as well as the earlier allegation of sexual misconduct. Judy Woodruff talks with Ronan Farrow about the allegation and what evidence they have uncovered.

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  • Judy Woodruff:

    Well, now, for more about that specific allegation that has been made about Judge Kavanaugh's conduct during his college years, as we said, "The New Yorker" magazine reported that Kavanaugh exposed himself to a woman named Deborah Ramirez while they were both freshman at Yale University in the 1980s.

    Now, Kavanaugh has categorically denied this story, as well as the earlier allegation of sexual misconduct.

    Ronan Farrow reported on this for "The New Yorker," along with his colleague Jane Mayer. And he joins me now from Los Angeles.

    Ronan Farrow, welcome back to the "NewsHour."

    I want to go right to the allegation being made by Deborah Ramirez.

    How certain is she — and you have talked with her — that it was Brett Kavanaugh who exposed himself to her when they were freshman at Yale?

  • Ronan Farrow:

    She's absolutely certain, Judy.

    And one thing that I want to highlight is, in cases of trauma and cases in which there has been heavy drinking, very often, we see exactly what we saw in Ramirez case, which is, she took her time and was extraordinarily careful, and really thought carefully about this.

    This was already being investigated on the Hill, which is something we reported in the article and something that prompted our reporting. And she knew that this was going to be a significant issue that would command a lot of attention.

    And rather than jump out ahead of it and say something incautious, she really turned over every piece of evidence and considered this carefully, and then decided, yes, she was certain, and she thought it was important to speak about this.

  • Judy Woodruff:

    And you talked to all of the people who she said were present, who she remembered were present when this happened. And none of them was able to remember it. Is that right?

    But you were able to speak with someone who heard about it in the next day or so.

  • Ronan Farrow:

    So, this is corroborated by more than just one person, Judy.

    There's a number of people, including people on the record, who learned about this at the time. There's the individual you mentioned. She was told right after, and independently of Ramirez, not someone who was in touch with her, recounted exactly the same fact pattern, down to small details. That's a very credible person.

    There's an individual who saw a young woman crying, recounting the same fact pattern, again, soon after. That's an incident that Ms. Ramirez remembers, that she was crying recounting this. And we have a number of individuals in the Yale community saying that this was known and discussed before Dr. Ford's allegation came to light.

    As to the people who were present, I want to point out something important that I think is often lost in the conversation. The individuals present who denied that this happened are individuals who Deborah Ramirez said were involved in the alleged misconduct, who egged on Kavanaugh, who taunted her.

    And those individuals did sign onto a statement, which we included in full, saying that they didn't recall this event and they thought Judge Kavanaugh to be an individual of good character.

  • Judy Woodruff:

    In other words, you're saying they would have a motive not to acknowledge that — what they knew.

  • Ronan Farrow:

    I think it's important context to note that the statement of support is signed by three individuals who do have a clear stake in the allegations and are not impartial bystanders, and one other classmates that he rallied.

    There were two others who initially had supported Judge Kavanaugh in that statement, but came forward today and withdrew their names from that.

  • Judy Woodruff:

    As you know, The New York Times is saying that they talked to two dozen people about Ms. Ramirez's allegation. They were not able to get anyone to corroborate it.

    And, as you also know, the Senate majority leader, other Republicans, the White House is saying that's a reason to suspect that this may not be true.

    How do you answer that?

  • Ronan Farrow:

    So, I want to correct your correspondent in what she said earlier. The New York Times didn't pass on this story. They didn't decline to run the story.

    Dean Baquet has come out publicly and said that. This is a case where, as is very often the case with big stories, a lot of publications chased it. And The Times was among the ones that aggressively pursued Deborah Ramirez and repeatedly asked her to speak.

    She declined, because she was working with "The New Yorker" and wanted to do this carefully with a reporter that she trusted. That's a completely reasonable judgment call. But that is why they couldn't find that corroboration level that "The New Yorker" found. And, clearly, we also found other corroborators that they didn't.

    We also say that we made dozens of calls, and that there were many people who didn't recall this or who didn't respond for comment. We have been extremely careful to disclose all of that up front.

  • Judy Woodruff:

    You mentioned that the Senate found out about this, Democratic senators, Republican staffers in the Senate. Do you know the state of the investigations they're doing? Are they pursuing these allegations?

  • Ronan Farrow:

    As I understand it, several of these offices are pursuing them further. At least two are investigating. And I know that at least one has had ongoing contact with Ms. Ramirez and her counsel since the story ran.

  • Judy Woodruff:

    Is she prepared to come forward and speak publicly, to make a public appearance, to go on television to talk about this?

  • Ronan Farrow:

    As you have seen with Dr. Ford, and as you now see with many of these attacks on Ms. Ramirez and her credibility, this is an incredibly taxing personal decision to make, how and when one comes forward.

    Ms. Ramirez has just made the difficult decision to speak publicly in the first place. She readily admitted that she would be attacked in exactly the way that she has been. And she has big decisions to make about what comes next. She has said that she would like to see an FBI investigation.

  • Judy Woodruff:

    Ronan Farrow with "The New Yorker," we thank you.

  • Ronan Farrow:

    Thank you, Judy.

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