Brett Kavanaugh’s nomination to the Supreme Court is now in a holding pattern while the FBI looks into, among other things, multiple claims that he sexually assaulted and harassed women both in high school and at Yale University. Kavanaugh’s defenders claim that calls for an investigation are merely a stall tactic. After all, they say, Kavanaugh has had to endure six background checks.
But if one of Kavanaugh’s roommate during their freshman year at Yale is to be believed, those investigations were woefully incomplete. He claims that the FBI never talked to him.
James “Jamie” Roche, who is now the CEO of a software company, first turned heads last Monday when he issued a statement publicly supporting Kavanaugh’s second accuser, Debbie Ramirez. In case you missed it, Ramirez told The New Yorker that a drunken Kavanaugh exposed himself to her at a 1983 party. Based on his interactions with both Ramirez–with whom he became close friends during their time in New Haven–and Kavanaugh, Roche believes Ramirez is telling the truth.
Roche subsequently told New York magazine that Kavanaugh was a really heavy drinker even by early 1980s standards, often to the point that he and his friends “constantly” threw up in their dorm’s bathroom. It got so bad that on some days, he couldn’t use the bathroom because no one could be bothered to clean it up.
This was corroborated by Kavanaugh and Roche’s other freshman-year roommate, Kit Winter, who described Kavanaugh and his friends as “loud, obnoxious frat boy like-drunks.” Winter added that Kavanaugh almost never spoke to him, and unnerved at the near-total lack of interaction between the trio. One of Winter’s high school friends, Itamar Kubovy, was also taken aback by this; he recalled, “It’s weird never saying hello to one of your two roommates.”
Later during his tenure at Yale, Kavanaugh lived near Dana How, who told New York magazine that Kavanaugh and his roommates were “completely antisocial” and “completely disconnected.” Indeed, he doesn’t recall ever seeing the door open.
Fast forward to this Monday, when Roche detonated another bombshell–the FBI never contacted him when it previously vetted Kavanaugh.
Now why does this matter? Well, Kavanaugh served as White House staff secretary from 2003 to 2006 under George W. Bush–the same position that was held by Rob Porter in the Trump White House before he was pushed out amid reports that he abused both of his wives. As we now know, Porter was serving under an interim security clearance because the FBI’s investigation into those allegations delayed him getting a full one.
Soon after the Porter scandal broke, Clinton-era National Security Council staffer William Antholis told Politico that he was flabbergasted that Porter could be serving as staff secretary on an interim clearance, since that post almost always requires its holder to have one of the highest-level security clearances. Specifically, a “Top Secret/Special Compartmentalized Information” clearance, also known as “TS/CodeWord.” Anyone holding a TS/CodeWord clerance frequently has access to secrets gleaned from deeply embedded human sources from around the world.
As Antholis put it, anyone holding that level of clearance must be “supremely trustworthy.” Thus, one would think that someone serving in a post would have to go through an extremely thorough amount of vetting. If Roche is to be believed, that vetting didn’t even begin to occur.
So for all of Kavanaugh’s backers talking about how Kavanaugh has endured six background checks, it appears that those background checks were inadequate at best, especially given that he once held a job with a high-level security clearance. Seen in this light, this renewed FBI investigation isn’t a delaying tactic. It may very well be a chance to right a wrong.
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