Those who knew Brett Kavanaugh in his youth have described his hard-drinking habits — but he portrayed himself differently during his Senate hearing

Andrew Harnik/Getty ImagesBrett Kavanaugh, the Supreme Court nominee, was repeatedly asked on Thursday about his drinking habits.
  • Brett Kavanaugh, the Supreme Court nominee, appeared uncomfortable when during a Senate Judiciary Committee hearing on Thursday he was questioned about his drinking habits. The hearing centered on Christine Blasey Ford’s allegation that he sexually assaulted her in high school.
  • Ford has said Kavanaugh was inebriated at the time.
  • Multiple senators on Thursday asked Kavanaugh about his drinking habits, prompting awkward exchanges at times.
  • Kavanaugh repeatedly told the committee he liked beer.

Brett Kavanaugh, the Supreme Court nominee, made claims on Thursday about his drinking habits that do not match up with accounts from people who knew him in high school and college.

Kavanaugh was testifying before the Senate Judiciary Committee about an allegation that he sexually assaulted Christine Blasey Ford, now a professor in California, when they were in high school.

Ford, who testified earlier Thursday, alleges that at a party in the early 1980s, Kavanaugh pinned her to a bed, groped her, and tried to remove her clothes. She said Kavanaugh’s friend Mark Judge was also in the room and didn’t do anything to stop it.

Ford said that both Kavanaugh and Judge were inebriated at the time.

Kavanaugh has been accused of sexual misconduct by two other women, Deborah Ramirez and Julie Swetnick, whose allegations also involve Kavanaugh partying and drinking.

He has acknowledged that as a young person he may have had “too many” beers on occasion, and he repeatedly told the committee on Thursday that he liked beer.

But he often stumbled when questioned about his drinking, at times even contradicting his past public statements and accounts from people who knew him years ago.

What people who knew Kavanaugh when he was younger have said about his drinking

Judge’s book “Wasted: Tales of a Gen X Drunk” chronicles his struggles with alcoholism when he and Kavanaugh were at Georgetown Preparatory School, one of the most prestigious high schools in the Washington, DC, area.

The book includes a character named “Bart O’Kavanaugh,” described as a heavy drinker who at one point puked in someone’s car.

Kavanaugh also made references to alcohol in his high-school yearbook, including “Keg City Club (Treasurer) – 100 Kegs or Bust.”

James Roche, Kavanaugh’s roommate at Yale University during their freshman year, has described him as someone who was “frequently unusually drunk” and sometimes “belligerent and mean” when inebriated, The New York Times reported.

Similarly, Elizabeth Swisher, who also knew Kavanaugh at Yale, told The Times it would be “a lie” if someone said Kavanaugh never blacked out from drinking during his college days.

The Times said a group of Kavanaugh’s Yale classmates also recalled that he once got so drunk that he tried to break into the back of a friend’s pickup truck and subsequently refused to cover the cost of the damage.

Lynne Brookes, Kavanaugh’s former classmate at Yale, said she was prompted to speak up after watching his testimony on Capitol Hill.

“I watched the whole hearing,” Brookes told the CNN host Andrew Cuomo on Thursday night. “And 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.”

Brookes said “there is no doubt” that while Kavanaugh was at Yale, “he was a big partier, often drank to excess.” She added that “there had to be a number of nights where he does not remember,” recalling that on the night Kavanaugh was selected to become a fraternity brother, “he was stumbling drunk in a ridiculous costume saying really dumb things.”

Brookes added: “There were a lot of emails and a lot of texts flying around about how he was lying to the Senate Judiciary Committee today.”

She also downplayed a portion of Kavanaugh’s testimony in which he suggested his academic achievements underscored his ambitions and weren’t consistent that of a hard drinker.

“I thought today that he evaded questions, and he kept trying to turn the question around to ‘but I studied really hard,'” Brookes said. “Well, you know what? I studied hard too. I went to Wharton Business School. I did very well at Yale. I also drank to excess many nights with Brett Kavanaugh. The two things are not mutually exclusive.”

What Kavanaugh told the Senate about his drinking

On Thursday, Kavanaugh dodged several questions from Democratic senators about his drinking habits, sometimes answering by firing questions back.

At one point, Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse asked Kavanaugh about references to drinking and vomiting that appeared in his yearbook.

“I’m known to have a weak stomach, and I always have,” Kavanaugh said. “In fact, the last time I was here, you asked me about having ketchup on spaghetti. I always have had a weak stomach.”

When Whitehouse pressed about whether a specific yearbook reference to vomiting was due to alcohol consumption, Kavanaugh replied: “Senator, I was at the top of my class academically. Busted my butt in school. Captain of the varsity basketball team. Got in Yale College. When I got into Yale College, got into Yale Law School. Worked my tail off.”

Kavanaugh later dodged a question from Sen. Mazie Hirono about Roche’s account of him.

“James Roche said – your roommate – ‘Although Brett was normally reserved, he was a notably heavy drinker, even by the standards of the time. And he became aggressive and belligerent when he was drunk,'” Hirono said. “So is your former college roommate lying?”

Kavanaugh replied: “Senator, you were asking about college. I got into Yale Law School. That’s the No. 1 law school in the country. I had no connections there. I got there by busting my tail in college.”

At another point, Sen. Patrick Leahy asked Kavanaugh whether he was the inspiration for the “Bart O’Kavanaugh” character in Judge’s book.

Kavanaugh told Leahy he’d have to ask Judge, who has declined to testify about the allegations against Kavanaugh.

Sen. Amy Klobuchar asked whether Kavanaugh had ever blacked out from drinking or consumed so much alcohol that he couldn’t remember a certain period of time.

Kavanaugh directed the question back to the senator: “I don’t know. Have you?”

Klobuchar replied, “I have no drinking problem.”

“Yeah, nor do I,” Kavanaugh said.

Sen. Richard Blumenthal asked Kavanaugh about a speech he gave in 2014 in which he said he fell out of a bus “onto the front steps of Yale Law School at 4:45 a.m.” after a night of bar-hopping following a Red Sox game in Boston. In the speech, Kavanaugh said that the next morning he had to “piece things back together” to recall the night.

Kavanaugh told Blumenthal on Thursday that he knew “exactly what happened” that night.

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