New York Times reporters Robin Pogrebin and Kate Kelly said that Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh agreed to let them interview him for their upcoming book ― as long as they would publicly lie about it.
Speaking at the National Press Club in Washington on Wednesday, Kelly and Pogrebin said that Kavanaugh told them he would talk to the reporters to provide them with background information as long as they falsely noted in the book that he declined to be interviewed.
On Thursday, the Times reporters told The Hill’s chief Washington correspondent Saagar Enjeti that a Kavanaugh representative laid out the deal: a line in the book that “Kavanaugh declined to comment” in return for the justice talking to them.
The Times reporters said their talks about setting up an interview with Kavanaugh took place when the book was in its final stages. Kelly and Pogrebin said they couldn’t agree to the justice’s terms, so they couldn’t conduct the interview.
The “Education of Brett Kavanaugh” authors declined to comment further on the matter on Thursday and pointed HuffPost to remarks they made in previous interviews this week. Representatives for Kavanaugh did not respond to HuffPost’s request for comment.
On the same day of the National Press Club event, the reporters told the hosts of Yahoo’s Skullduggery podcast that they initially asked Kavanaugh to meet with them “very early on” in their book-writing process, though he didn’t consider it seriously until “kind of late in the process.”
Kavanaugh wanted Pogrebin and Kelly to say that he hadn’t spoken to them—that was the terms they couldn’t agree to— Andrew Beaujon (@abeaujon) September 18, 2019
He wanted a line in there saying he had declined an interview. They were on their way to Washington to interview him. Book was almost done.— Andrew Beaujon (@abeaujon) September 18, 2019
“No way to thread the needle,” Kelly says— Andrew Beaujon (@abeaujon) September 18, 2019
During an interview with The Hill’s “Rising with Krystal & Saagar” on Thursday, Kelly and Pogrebin said they believed that a “declined to comment” note would mislead their readers.
“Unfortunately, they wanted a line in that actually said he declined to comment, and we felt that would have misled the readers,” Pogrebin said.
“They asked us to affirmatively say that Justice Kavanaugh declined to be interviewed for the book even if we had an off-the-record discussion with him,” Kelly added.
The reporters made a similar remark on the Skullduggery podcast, saying they “were not comfortable doing that.”
Kelly and Pogrebin reached out to the associate justice as part of a 10-month investigation into his educational background and the accusations of sexual misconduct against him for their book, “The Education of Brett Kavanaugh,” published this week.
Days before the book was released, Kelly and Pogrebin published an op-ed in the Times that included a previously unreported accusation made against Kavanaugh.
According to Pogrebin and Kelly, Max Stier, a classmate of Kavanaugh’s at Yale, told senators and the FBI that he once saw Kavanaugh at a dorm party with his pants down while his friends pushed his penis into a female student’s hands.
The FBI didn’t investigate Stier’s account, and Stier “has declined to discuss it publicly,” according to the Times. Pogrebin and Kelly said they “corroborated the story with two officials who have communicated” with Stier.
The woman at the center of Stier’s account declined to be interviewed by the Times reporters, and her friends say she doesn’t recall that incident, according to the Times.
Stier’s account, as reported by the paper, is similar to an allegation lodged against Kavanaugh last year by Deborah Ramirez, another former Yale classmate.
Ramirez said that she was at a dorm room party with Kavanaugh and several others playing a drinking game when Kavanaugh pulled down his pants and thrust his penis at her. She pushed him away, she told The New Yorker last year, causing her to touch his penis.
Ramirez came forward with her allegation after Christine Blasey Ford publicly accused Kavanaugh of sexual assault when they were teenagers. Ford testified at his Supreme Court nomination hearing.
The authors of the new Kavanaugh book note tonight that they didn’t interview Kavanaugh because his condition was that they state they hadn’t. That is, he would only speak to them if they agreed to write in their book, dishonestly, that he hadn’t. pic.twitter.com/VYzZdd4zDT— Alexandra (@AlexandraWrage) September 18, 2019
Clarification: Language has been amended to indicate that Stier reported his account of Kavanaugh at a Yale dorm party directly to lawmakers and the FBI, but declined to talk about it publicly. Also, the Times reporters, not a Kavanaugh representative, described the proposed deal to Enjeti.
This story has been updated with quotes from interviews Kelly and Pogrebin did with The Hill’s “Rising with Krystal & Saagar” and Yahoo’s Skullduggery podcast.
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