MSNBC Contributor: Can’t Prosecute New Kavanaugh Accusation

Alleged victim has no memory of incident

• September 16, 2019 12:40 pm


Former U.S. attorney Joyce Vance said Monday on MSNBC prosecuting the newly reported allegation of sexual misconduct against Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh is not an option, since the alleged victim has no memory of the event.

The New York Times reported over the weekend on a previously unknown accusation against Kavanaugh made during his wrenching confirmation process. Yale classmate Max Stier, a Democratic attorney, told lawmakers he saw Kavanaugh expose himself at a drunken dorm party, and friends then pushed his penis into a female classmate's hands.

However, the woman told friends she had no memory of such an incident, and Stier wouldn't speak publicly about his accusation.

Vance, a former U.S. attorney appointed by President Barack Obama, was asked by MSNBC anchor Stephanie Ruhle to put on her "prosecutor hat" and see if she could bring a case based on what she'd read.

"This isn't really about a prosecution, Stephanie. This was essentially a job interview, so the FBI was doing not a criminal investigation, but they were looking at Justice Kavanaugh's background," Vance said. "Probably you couldn't bring this case without the victim remembering the incident, unless there were multiple credible witnesses who saw the incident, and that's exactly why it would have been in everyone's best interests, including Justice Kavanaugh, for there to be a full investigation into this."

"If the incident didn't occur, if there wasn't proof, then it would be resolved that direction," she added.

Vance claimed there were "multiple witnesses" the FBI declined to interview, appearing to conflate the newly reported accusation with that made by Deborah Ramirez, who told the New Yorker last year that Kavanaugh exposed himself to her at a dorm party.

Ramirez needed nearly a week, according to the New Yorker, of "assessing her own memories" before she leveled the accusation. The report acknowledged at the time there were no eyewitnesses to corroborate Ramirez's claim, and Ramirez admitted she had been drinking and there were gaps in her memory.

The New York Times reported seven people—one of them Ramirez's mother–"heard about the Yale incident" before Kavanaugh became a federal judge.

The Times had to correct its story about Stier's allegation after initially omitting the key fact that the alleged victim had no recollection of the event. The piece, written by reporters Robin Pogrebin and Kate Kelly, was adapted from the forthcoming book The Education of Brett Kavanaugh: An Investigation. While the book notes the alleged victim didn't remember the incident, the article left that significant detail out until author and journalist Mollie Hemingway called it out.

Nevertheless, multiple 2020 presidential candidates have called for Kavanaugh's impeachment based on the Times‘s reporting.

President Donald Trump defended Kavanaugh, tweeting he was being attacked by "lies and Fake News" and accusing Democrats and the media of working hand-in-hand.

Kavanaugh was narrowly confirmed to the Supreme Court last year, 50-48, after Christine Blasey Ford testified he sexually assaulted her when they were teenagers in the 1980s. Kavanaugh emphatically denied the allegation.

Ford couldn't corroborate her claims with witness accounts or remember key details about the party, including how she got there.

Her husband said she told him about the attack at a 2012 therapy session, after seeing Kavanaugh's name in the news, and other friends said she told them about the traumatic incident decades later.