Slate has decided to publish a personal account of a woman who encountered Brett Kavanaugh 20 years ago, just about a month after he was confirmed and sworn in as a Supreme Court justice.
Kavanaugh was, of course, accused of sexual assault and/or sexual misconduct by Dr. Christine Blasey Ford, Deborah Ramirez, and Julie Swetnick. Judy Munro-Leighton, meanwhile, has been referred to the Department of Justice and the FBI for an alleged false rape claim against Kavanaugh. The Swetnick claim has also been referred for a criminal probe.
Judi Hershman‘s Kavanaugh story in Slate made no such accusations of sexual misconduct or wrongdoing. What she did say is that she watched Kavanaugh and Ford testify before the Senate Judiciary Committee and was reminded of something that happened in 1998. She said that when Kavanaugh worked on the Bill Clinton investigation as a lawyer on independent counsel Ken Starr‘s team, she was “charged with helping prep Starr to present his history-making report to Congress.” Hershman still works in marketing and communications.
She said that she showed up one day at the independent counsel’s office and was greeted by an “angry” Kavanaugh, who was “invading my space, badgering me in a way that I didn’t understand.”
Then she said this exchange occurred:
Him (very angry): You are going to tell me exactly who you are and why you are here.
Me: I am here at the invitation of Judge Starr, and he shared with the group who I am and why I’m here.
Him (pointing a finger in my face, I can feel his breath): No. I’m telling you—
Me (defiant stance): And I’m telling you to go talk to Judge Starr.
Hershman claimed that Kavanaugh “couldn’t have possibly thought I was a spy, because he knew who I was—we had met before and been in each other’s company several times since.”
She also said that she told Starr decades back about it and that Starr said he would talk to Kavanaugh. Slate said that Starr confirmed Hershman helped the independent counsel investigation, but that he “[did] not recall any mention of any incident involving Brett Kavanaugh. To the contrary, throughout his service in the independent counsel’s office, now-Justice Kavanaugh comported himself at all times with high professionalism and respect toward all our colleagues.”
Hershman said that even though it “sounds like a strange, ultimately meaningless conversation […] it’s not the exchange that sticks with me, it’s how he made me feel.”
“I was thinking: Why is he so mad? He knows who I am and why I’m here. I know he will not hurt me. Someone will come. Why isn’t someone coming? I kept saying Starr’s name, and finally Kavanaugh appeared to come to his senses,” Hershman continued. “He stopped haranguing, his face relaxed, and he left the room. It was like he’d momentarily been a different person.”
She said that she saw this version of Kavanaugh once again when he defended himself before the Senate Judiciary Committee.
“[Ford’s] testimony struck me as credible. When I saw the nominee’s facial expression—the same pinched eyes and lips of the person who tried to bully me that day in 1998—I was taken aback. The word feral came to mind. And when he showed the entire world that rabid ‘temperament’ i’d seen, a switch flipped inside me,” Hershman said. “I flashed back 20 years to that conference room and relived that guttural fear. I realized that what I had experienced that day hadn’t been some one-off outburst prompted by stress. And I decided that I had to go on record with the senators who were faced with choosing whether to give Kavanaugh lifetime tenure on the nation’s highest court.”
Hershman said that she actually sent a statement about the 1998 encounter to Sen. Jeff Flake (R-Arizona), Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska), Sen. Mazie Hirono (D-Hawaii) and Chris Coons (D-Delaware). Kavanaugh didn’t comment on the story and Slate added a note to say they “contacted the author’s ex-husband, who said that she had told him in 2010 about a jarring interaction she’d had while working for Starr and that she’d clarified in 2012 that the interaction had been with Kavanaugh.”
“Further, her daughter provided text messages from July—when Kavanaugh was known to be on the short list for the Supreme Court but before Christine Blasey Ford’s accusation was publicly known—in which the author said she had a story to share about Kavanaugh,” Slate continued. “She told her daughter the story later that month, before Ford’s accusation became public.”
[Image via Melina Mara/AFP/Getty Images.]