The Senate F*cked Up The Kavanaugh Investigation

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(Photo by MELINA MARA/AFP/Getty Images)

Sorry, am I supposed to say it in a more polite manner so that no one’s feelings are hurt? Okay, as reported by the Guardian, there were “serious omissions” in the Senate investigation into allegations of sexual assault against Brett Kavanaugh.

The Guardian’s report builds on some of the revelations in Doug Liman’s Sundance Film Festival stunner “Justice.” Specifically, the reporting details how the 2018 Senate investigation into the sexual assault allegations against Kavanaugh — which declared there was “no evidence” to substantiate the claims — was broken. The Senate report claimed to debunk the allegations of Deborah Ramirez, who said Kavanaugh exposed himself to her at a party, saying it was a case of mistaken identity. However, the mistaken identity theory was first floated by a Federalist Society true believer:

The suggestion that Kavanaugh was the victim of mistaken identity was sent to the judiciary committee by a Colorado-based attorney named Joseph C Smith Jr, according to a non-redacted copy of a 2018 email obtained by the Guardian. Smith was a friend and former colleague of the judiciary committee’s then lead counsel, Mike Davis.

Smith was also a member of the Federalist Society, which strongly supported Kavanaugh’s supreme court nomination, and appears to have a professional relationship with the Federalist Society’s co-founder, Leonard Leo, whom he thanked in the acknowledgments of his book Under God: George Washington and the Question of Church and State.

And wouldn’t you know it? Mike Davis, who previously said he was set on confirming Brett Kavanaugh regardless of any evidence of sexual assault, is at the center of this mess.

Smith, who was a year behind Kavanaugh and Ramirez at Yale, pointed the finger at Jack Maxey. Maxey, Smith claimed, had a “reputation” for exposing himself at parties. This version of the event took on a life of its own and was included in the Senate’s final report — despite the fact that Maxey WASN’T AT YALE WHEN THE INCIDENT HAPPENED.

In an interview with the Guardian, Maxey confirmed that he was still a senior in high school at the time of the alleged incident, and said he had never been contacted by any of the Republican staffers who were conducting the investigation.

“I was not at Yale,” he said. “I was a senior in high school at the time. I was not in New Haven.” He added: “These people can say what they want, and there are no consequences, ever.”

Maxey is now a Republican activist and still strongly denies he was responsible for the incident.

Maxey adamantly denied any allegation that he exposed himself to Ramirez at any time. Asked if he had ever visited Yale at the time of the alleged incident, Maxey said he had visited his older brother, Christopher, who was an older student at Yale, on a limited number of occasions when he was a senior in high school, but that they had not attended any freshmen parties.

Smith’s theory about the sexual assault was seemingly shared with the FBI, who also did their own investigation:

Redacted emails show that Smith also appears to have shared his accusation about Maxey with federal investigators. While the name of the accuser and the accused were redacted, records released by the FBI show that an individual made the exact same claim as Smith made to Davis to the FBI shortly after the email was sent to Davis. In it, the individual wrote: “I submitted this same information to a staff member of the Senate judiciary committee, Mike Davis, because I know him, and he suggested I also submit it to you.”

Obviously, the truth matters and finding out more about what really happened is vital. However, as has become an increasingly common refrain in 2023, it doesn’t seem like there is much that can be done when someone has a lifetime appointment to the Supreme Court and there are far less than 67 Senators willing to hold their feet to the fire.

Kathryn Rubino is a Senior Editor at Above the Law, host of The Jabot podcast, and co-host of Thinking Like A Lawyer. AtL tipsters are the best, so please connect with her. Feel free to email her with any tips, questions, or comments and follow her on


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