With a vote coming soon, the Senate Judiciary Committee has been receiving lots of mail — allegations, declarations, testimonials — about Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh. Two of them, both from former students who attended Georgetown Prep high school with Kavanaugh between 1979 and 1983, represent the spectrum of opinion on Kavanaugh.
One, by a man named Michael Fegan, is a testament to Kavanaugh's good qualities. The other, by an alum named Paul Rendon, is filled with the angst and resentment of still-fresh high school memories. It portrays Kavanaugh as a boorish jock.
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The major similarity between the letters: Neither man witnessed Kavanaugh do anything involving Christine Blasey Ford, the woman who says that at a high school party in 1982, when she was 15, a drunken 17-year-old Brett Kavanaugh forced her onto a bed, tried to undress her, and, when she tried to scream, covered her mouth with his hand.
In addition, both address the question of Kavanaugh's teenage drinking. Rendon, the critic, writes that he heard Kavanaugh talk about drinking but does not say that he, Rendon, ever saw Kavanaugh take a drink. Fegan, the supporter, says he never saw Kavanaugh lose control from drinking.
Likewise, on the question of teen sexual behavior, Rendon writes that he heard Kavanaugh talk about it but has no knowledge of Kavanaugh actually doing it. Fegan said he saw no such activity, either.
Start with Fegan's letter, dated Oct. 1. "I attended most of the same social events that Brett attended in high school, and many after high school as well," Fegan writes. "I also attended 'Beach Week' with him in June 1982. I have never seen Brett out of control from drinking alcohol. I have never seen Brett out of control in any situation, whether it be in the classroom, on the football field, or on the basketball court or in any social setting."
Fegan writes that he "never heard of such a gathering" as the one described in Ford's allegation. "We were a tight-knit group, and I believe that if anything happened like Professor Ford described, I would have known about it. I never met Christine Blasey, and had never heard her name until mid-September 2018."
[Also read: Kavanaugh describes group of friends as 'loud, obnoxious drunks' in 1983 letter]
On the allegation against Kavanaugh from Deborah Ramirez, Fegan wrote that he did not attend Yale and has no knowledge of it. "I can tell you that what Ms. Ramirez described would be completely out of character of the man I have known for almost 40 years," Fegan writes.
Finally, on the Julie Swetnick allegation, Fegan writes, "We did not socialize with girls from Gaithersburg High School. We did not have any kind of punch drinks, hard liquor or drugs at our parties. I never witnessed any kind of sexual situation at any of our parties."
Rendon's declaration is also dated October 1. In it, Rendon describes himself as someone unlike other Georgetown Prep students -- he didn't come from a rich family and was at the school on an academic scholarship. In the declaration, Rendon divides the student body into jocks, the students jocks picked on, and the students in the middle. Kavanaugh, on the football team, was a jock. Rendon was in the middle.
"There was a group of students that were routinely picked on by Brett Kavanaugh's group of friends, and were tormented, teased and ridiculed, and pushed and shoved into lockers or into closets," Rendon writes. But then Rendon adds this: "I never witnessed Brett Kavanaugh physically attack a student, but there were many times I witnessed one of Brett Kavanaugh's larger friends physically attack a student."
Rendon says he saw Kavanaugh witness such attacks, laughing and not intervening.
Rendon also says that underage drinking "was part of the subculture of the football team group," but was not "the culture of the whole school." Members of the team, including Kavanaugh, "would routinely brag about how many kegs that they drank over the weekend." Rendon says that he heard Kavanaugh "say that it was a two kegger weekend on at least one occasion, and counting the kegs on his fingers."
Rendon says he, Rendon, had the "clear impression" that Kavanaugh was a very heavy drinker. But Rendon does not say that he ever saw Kavanaugh drinking, or that he ever saw Kavanaugh drunk.
Rendon says that Kavanaugh was close friends with Mark Judge, whom Rendon called the "class clown."
Rendon also says that football players bragged "about how much sex they had over the weekend." He says Kavanaugh "generally participate[d]" in such conversations, but adds this: "I do not recall Brett Kavanaugh specifically say he had sex with any particular person."
Rendon says that the football players routinely talked about having sex with a girl named Renate, and that he heard Kavanaugh talk about Renate many times. The gist of the talk was that Renate was "the girl that everyone passed around for sex." That is apparently a reference to Renate Dolphin, who was featured in a Washington Post story based on Kavanaugh's, and other Georgetown Prep boys' references to themselves as "Renate Alumnius."
Rendon says that the boys pronounced Renate's name REE NATE. He says Kavanaugh made up a rhyme about her: "REE NATE, REE NATE, if you want a date, can't get one until late, and you wanna get laid, you can make it with REE NATE." Rendon says his recollection of Kavanaugh's rhyme "may not be word for word, but the substance of the message is 100 percent accurate."
Then Rendon adds: "I have never met Renate. I have no idea whether any of these boys actually had sex with Renate." That would, of course, include Kavanaugh.
Finally, Rendon says that a student named Chris Garrett was part of the football players' group. Garrett stuttered occasionally, and Rendon writes that the players, including Kavanaugh, "would routinely tease [him] about his stuttering, but not in a severe manner."
Rendon says that the reference in Kavanaugh's yearbook to the "FFFFFFourth of July" in Kavanaugh's yearbook entry "is a joke about Chris Garrett and not a sexual reference."
Rendon also says he had never heard of the term "Devil's Triangle." He says he had heard of "boofing" but thought it meant "smuggling contraband in one's body."
Rendon says the reason he wrote to the committee is that "Brett Kavanaugh's presentation of himself as some honorable and nice person who always respected girls in high school and who was a moderate drinker could not be farther from the truth."
"Based on everything I witnessed first-hand about Brett Kavanaugh as a person during my four years with him in high school," Rendon concludes, "I have strong reason to fear that he did exactly as Dr. [Christine] Ford testified he did to her in high school and that Mark Judge was with him at the time."
Rendon says he went to an FBI office in California on Oct. 1 and asked to be interviewed about Kavanaugh. He was told he would have to file a report online or on the telephone, which he did.
So what to make of the declaration? Certainly Paul Rendon really, really didn't like Brett Kavanaugh in high school. His antipathy to Kavanaugh appears to be the kind of thing that lasts 35 years, even as both men have left high school far behind.
Rendon, like other Kavanaugh critics, has also mischaracterized Kavanaugh's testimony before the Senate. On multiple occasions, Kavanaugh admitted consuming "too many beers" in high school. He also said he "cringed" to remember some of the things he did in high school. Rendon does not acknowledge Kavanaugh's self-criticism.
On the other hand, some of what Rendon says about Kavanaugh might well be true. But our public debate has truly entered a new phase if a man with a long and distinguished record of public service is disqualified for a high-level position because he was on occasion a dick in high school more than three decades earlier.
Still, the most important thing, looking at Rendon's memories, is how little they have to do with the current allegations against Kavanaugh. Rendon has no evidence to corroborate the accusations of Ford, or Ramirez, or Swetnick. He can only say that he saw Kavanaugh do boorish, jock-y things that make him, Rendon, believe that Kavanaugh was capable of doing what the three women allege.
That's where Fagen's letter comes in. Like Rendon, Fegan has no personal knowledge of the particulars of the Ford, Ramirez, or Swetnick allegations. He just knew a Brett Kavanaugh who he believes would never do something like that.
All three allegations against Kavanaugh suffer from a lack of evidence — so much so that there is no way that any of them, all more than 30 years old, could come anywhere near being proven. Perhaps it's time to acknowledge that rather than venting resentments from high school.