In Senate Testimony, Kavanaugh Implicated Georgetown Prep 'Friends' For Alcohol-Related 'Trouble'

Posted by Brad Johnson Thu, 20 Sep 2018 20:09:00 GMT

During the third day of Brett Kavanaugh’s confirmation hearing, Sen. Kennedy (R-La.) questioned Kavanaugh about “getting into trouble” at the elite all-boys school Georgetown Prep, eliciting nervous laughter.

Dodging the question, Kavanaugh told Kennedy that at Georgetown Prep, “I had a lot of friends, I’ve talked a lot about my friends. And they’ve been here. So it was very formative.”

When Kennedy pressed his question about “trouble,” Kavanaugh replied, “That’s encompassed by the friends, I think.”


Kennedy concluded by saying he’s decided to not ask Kavanaugh whether his underage friends were “sneaking a few beers past Jesus.” Kavanaugh shook his head, said “Hey,” and giggled again in response to a comment not caught by the microphone.

Sen. John Cornyn (R-Texas) took the microphone, saying, “I for one am grateful for the senator’s self-restraint.”

It is unknown what motivated Kennedy’s questions at the time, although Kavanaugh’s close friend and classmate Mike G. Judge recorded in his book Wasted the binge drinking that dominated those years at Georgetown Prep. Similarly, Kavanaugh’s yearbook entry made repeated references to keg parties and vomiting.

After the hearing, it was revealed that professor Christine Blasey Ford had informed members of Congress that Kavanaugh and Judge had sexually assaulted her while they were all in high school.

Full transcript:

KENNEDY: I can tell from your testimony from the last three days, or two days, that high school were formative years for you. You went to Georgetown Preparatory School?

KAVANAUGH: I did, Georgetown Prep. Jesuit high school here. Um. It was very formative.

KENNEDY: What was it like for you? What were you like? Were you uh . . . Did you ever get in trouble?

KAVANAUGH: Nervous, high-pitched laughter.

KENNEDY: Were you more of a John Boy Walton-type or a Ferris Bueller-type?

KAVANAUGH: Nervous, high-pitched laughter continues.

KENNEDY: These ladies are old enough to understand.

KAVANAUGH: I loved sports, first and foremost. I think that, uh, I worked hard at school. I had a lot of friends, I’ve talked a lot about my friends. And they’ve been here. So it was very formative. Uh, and when I think back on it . . .

KENNEDY: You left out the trouble part.

KAVANAUGH: Ummm, right. I think that’s encompassed by the friends, I think. Nervous laughter.

KENNEDY: You were an athlete?

KAVANAUGH: Yes, I played football and basketball. My coach, my football coach was named Jim Fagan. And he’s a legendary football coach. For the last eight weeks, where I’ve been in a slightly different situation than I’ve been in the previous fifty-three years in terms of where I could go freely, I’ve been working out on weekends at my old high school, running on the track and ran into him out there. It was awesome to run into him. He still helps out with the football team. And he sent me a text three nights ago. So. It’s awesome.

KENNEDY: That’s all I’m going to get out of you? I understand. All right. Let me yield back. Strike that, Mr. Chairman. Just in case we have to have to have the time, I’m going to reserve my two hours and ten minutes. I’m sorry, my two minutes and seven seconds. Now, see, I was going to ask the judge, if not him, but if any of his underage running buddies had ever tried to sneak a few beers past Jesus or something like that in high school. But I’m not going to go there.

KAVANAUGH: shaking head… Hey…

someone off-mike: (?) I want you to. (?)

KAVANAUGH: More high-pitched laughter.

CORNYN: I for one am grateful for the senator’s self-restraint.

In Speech About Being An Impartial Judge, Kavanaugh Discloses Close Friendships With Corporate Elite

Posted by Brad Johnson Wed, 19 Sep 2018 14:07:00 GMT

In a 2015 address to Catholic University’s Columbus School of Law, Trump Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh discusses his friendships with and envy of America’s corporate elite. Arguing in favor of an “impartial” judiciary, Kavanaugh discusses how he knows these men, whether from his days at the boy’s-only Georgetown Prep, Yale, in the George W. Bush White House, or at the corporate law powerhouse Kirkland & Ellis.

In his prepared remarks for the speech given March 30, 2015, Kavanaugh planned to make a joke about how popular one of his wealthiest friends, Mike Bidwell, is:
I am proud to say that three Georgetown Prep classmates of mine—Mike Bidwill, Don Urgo, and Phil Merkle—happen to be 1990 graduates of this law school. They remain very good friends of mine, and they well reflect the values and excellence of both Georgetown Prep and this law school. You may recognize Mike Bidwill’s name. He is the President of the Arizona Cardinals football team. I am pretty sure he is on the Dean’s speed dial. Yet he is the same humble, generous, friendly guy he was when he was fourteen years old.
Kavanaugh diverged from his prepared remarks, however:
By coincidence, three classmates of mine at Georgetown Prep were graduates of this law school in 1990. And are really really good friends of mine: Mike Bidwill, Don Urgo and Phil Merkle. And they were good friends of mine then. And are still good friends of mine; as recently as this weekend, when we were all on email together.

Bidwill has used his team’s website to support Kavanaugh’s nomination. As Deadspin writer Samer Kalaf notes, he then “went on a conservative radio show to continue to push for his old high school pal” and “bellyached about how unfair it is to be criticized for requiring that NFL players only protest or demonstrate where no one can see them.”

Don Urgo Jr. is a corporate lawyer who now helps run his father’s hotel management business, Urgo Hotels & Resorts.

Philip Merkle is the director of the Office of Administration at the U.S. Department of Justice. He has worked at DOJ since 1996.

Kavanaugh continued:
But fortunately, we had a good saying that we’ve held firm to to this day, as the Dean was reminding me before the talk, which is, “What happens at Georgetown Prep stays at Georgetown Prep.” That’s been a good thing for all of us, I think.

This line earned some mild chuckles from the audience.

Now that Kavanaugh is in line to join fellow Georgetown Prep alumnus Neil Gorsuch on the highest court in the land, it appears that “what happens at Georgetown Prep” may not stay there. He and fellow classmate Mark G. Judge have been accused of sexual assault by professor Christine Blasey Ford. There is no statute of limitations on such a crime in Maryland.

Kavanaugh continued:
The Dean [Dan Attridge] is a wonderful man. He and I worked together at Kirkland and Ellis. We had memorable cases and lawyers at Kirkland and Ellis. I think back at those times.
Dan Attridge’s Kirkland & Ellis page notes one of his “ground-breaking” victories:
Counsel for Nationwide Insurance in over 400 Hurricane Katrina coverage cases in Mississippi, winning the ground-breaking first case to go to trial and defeating the Attorney General’s challenge to the policy’s flood exclusion.

Attridge’s victory cost Katrina victims billions of dollars in damages. Immediately after the ruling, insurance company stocks rose by 2 percent.

At the time, Kavanaugh was working in the Bush White House, as the administration’s racist neglect in the run-up to and aftermath of Katrina led to the death of 3000 Americans. The White House and Senator Grassley have refused to make public Kavanaugh’s role in the Katrina disaster.

Kavanaugh went on to describe his envy of another fellow corporate lawer:
And one person comes to mind that we worked with, was a guy who was a little younger than I was, named Ted Ullyot. And Ted was a great lawyer, great guy, and he worked with us at Kirkland. Then, when I was at the White House and became this job called staff secretary, I had to hire a deputy. And Ted was a great lawyer and I brought him in as my deputy. And then I went on to be a judge. And I remember getting a call from him in 2007 or 2008. And he said, “Yeah, I’m gonna go take this job in California.” “Oh wow, doing what?” “I’m gonna be general counsel of this company.” And I had never heard of the company he was talking about. It was a general counsel of Facebook. And that turned out to be a really good move. Yeah. And that’s been a…

You know, I am committed to public service, as I said, but I do spend some time reading Robert Frost, “The road not taken.”

Ullyot also served a chief of staff to U.S. Attorney General Alberto R. Gonzales. Ullyot is now a partner at the venture capital firm Andreessen Horowitz.

Kavanaugh then went back to his prepared remarks to say that he believes in being an impartial judge.

Senate Democrats Fundraise Off Kavanaugh's Nomination While Doing Little to Stop Him

Posted by Brad Johnson Thu, 06 Sep 2018 01:16:00 GMT

Claiming unified opposition to the nomination of Trump Supreme Court pick Brett Kavanaugh, Senate Democrats are fundraising to help re-elect incumbents who are not opposing Kavanaugh. In an email to its list in Sen. Mazie Hirono (D-Hawaii)’s voice, the Democratic Senate Campaign Committee wrote, “We need to stand together. So much is at stake.”

The email linked to a petition to “oppose Kavanaugh’s nomination” and then to a fundraising page to “Save the Supreme Court” and “Help Elect Senate Democrats.”

It is unclear how contributing to the DSCC would help save the Supreme Court from Kavanaugh, described in the DSCC email as a ” pre-selected political ideologue, nominated possibly because he believes a sitting president should be shielded from civil lawsuits, criminal investigation, and prosecution—no matter the facts.”

For there to be any likelihood of Kavanaugh’s nomination failing, the 49-member Democratic caucus would need to be unanimous in their opposition. But that is not the case—in particular with the vulnerable Democrats most heavily backed by the DSCC. As CNN reports, “Senators signal Kavanaugh appears on solid ground to win confirmation” :

“Not so far,” Sen. Heidi Heitkamp, a North Dakota Democrat, told CNN Wednesday afternoon when asked if anything she’s heard so far would be considered disqualifying.

“No, I haven’t seen anything from that standpoint,” Sen. Joe Manchin, a West Virginia Democrat, said when asked if he’s heard anything that would lead him to vote no. “He’s handled himself very professionally.”

Sen. Doug Jones, the Democrat from Alabama who won his special election after Gorsuch was confirmed, was non-committal when asked about Kavanaugh on Wednesday.

In addition to Heitkamp, Manchin, and Jones, Claire McCaskill of Missouri, Bill Nelson of Florida, Jon Tester of Montana, Joe Donnelly of Indiana are equivocal on Kavanaugh.

Update 9/6:

Liberal Senate Democrats praised Schumer’s failure to whip the caucus against Kavanaugh, as requested by a coalition of progressive advocacy organizations, Politico’s Burgess Everett and Elana Schor report:

“There is universal confidence in the Democratic Caucus for Sen. Schumer, whether they’re the progressives or the more conservative members of our caucus. There’s strong respect and admiration for how he handles diversity in our caucus,” said Maryland Sen. Ben Cardin.

“They’re the people that you can’t be pure enough for,” said Sen. Jeanne Shaheen (D-N.H.). of Schumer’s detractors. “Unless we can convince a few Republicans, then we don’t have the votes. That’s goal No. 1 and the outside groups should stay focused on that.”

Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse (D-R.I.). praised Schumer for “holding a very wide ranging caucus together in a way that has made strong points in the hearing without causing problems for our 2018 candidates.”

“There is what I call Democrat disease, which is to waste our time fighting with each other and quarreling over purity contests,” Whitehouse said. “And of all times to lose our way in those quarrels, this is perhaps the worst.”

In an interview with The Hill, Democratic whip Dick Durbin of Illinois was similarly critical: “The Senate doesn’t work that way, and the groups that are asking for it are not in touch with reality.”

As whip, Durbin is the senator officially responsible for wrangling the votes of the Democratic caucus.

In an interview with NPR’s Audie Cornish, Whitehouse similarly criticized the hearing protesters for being “not helpful” particularly for “the states in which we have, you know, our Senate races.”

Everett and Schor editorialize that letting Kavanaugh onto the Supreme Court in return for electoral victories in November would “vindicate” Schumer: “If a handful of red-state Democrats eventually support Kavanaugh and then win reelection, Schumer’s strategy will be vindicated.”

Full text of the email:

Subject: We need to stand together, Brad


Yesterday, the Judiciary Committee’s hearings for Brett Kavanaugh’s nomination to the Supreme Court began. These are scary times, and many of our civil rights are at stake. Considering his right-wing record, Kavanaugh has no place on the Supreme Court.

Normally, the Senate would determine the fitness of a nominee to the Supreme Court based on their legal talent and reputation for fairness. But these are not normal times.

Instead, we convened to decide whether or not to rubber stamp Donald Trump’s choice of a pre-selected political ideologue, nominated possibly because he believes a sitting president should be shielded from civil lawsuits, criminal investigation, and prosecution—no matter the facts.

Kavanaugh’s nomination will promote a right-wing agenda and protect Donald Trump. Furthermore, he will guarantee a 5th vote for Trump’s dangerous anti-worker, anti-consumer, anti-women, pro-corporate, and anti-environment agenda.

Friend, our civil rights are at stake. Our future is at stake. Please sign my urgent petition opposing Kavanaugh’s nomination. We need to defeat this dangerous nominee.

Remember, it could take just one vote on the Supreme Court to:

  • Overturn Roe v. Wade and deny women control over their bodies
  • Declare the ACA’s pre-existing condition protections unconstitutional
  • Dismantle environmental protections that keep our air safe to breathe and our water clean to drink
  • Dismantle common-sense gun safety laws that keep our community safe, and so much more

We need to stand together. So much is at stake.

Make sure you add your name to my petition:


Mazie Hirono
U.S. Senator, Hawaii

Transcript of Whitehouse interview with NPR:
CORNISH: Finally, the protesters that are interrupting periodically – hurting or helping Democrats right now?

WHITEHOUSE: My opinion – hurting.

CORNISH: In what way?

WHITEHOUSE: At least particularly in the states in which we have, you know, our Senate races. I think that the average independent voter – the labor family that voted for Trump last time but is now reconsidering – people like that don’t think that screaming in a hearing room is a particularly effective strategy or a signal of a party that they much want to belong to. So I think it’s been not helpful to any cause that I can see.

Brett Kavanaugh Has A Consistent Record Of Attacking Climate Action

Posted by Brad Johnson Tue, 10 Jul 2018 17:47:00 GMT

Trump Supreme Court nominee and former George W. Bush White House official Brett Kavanaugh has ruled repeatedly on behalf of industrial polluters, particularly on climate change. As a judge on the United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia (the D.C. Circuit), Kavanaugh has argued, sometimes successfully, to block action on carbon pollution.