Fact Check: Supreme Court Nominee Brett Kavanaugh's Senate Judiciary Committee Hearing NPR's Ailsa Chang talks with PolitiFact reporter Jon Greenberg to fact-check various statements Supreme Court nominee Judge Brett Kavanaugh made at his hearing last week.
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Fact Check: Supreme Court Nominee Brett Kavanaugh's Senate Judiciary Committee Hearing

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Fact Check: Supreme Court Nominee Brett Kavanaugh's Senate Judiciary Committee Hearing

Fact Check: Supreme Court Nominee Brett Kavanaugh's Senate Judiciary Committee Hearing

Fact Check: Supreme Court Nominee Brett Kavanaugh's Senate Judiciary Committee Hearing

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  • <iframe src="https://www.npr.org/player/embed/653430540/653430542" width="100%" height="290" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" title="NPR embedded audio player">
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NPR's Ailsa Chang talks with PolitiFact reporter Jon Greenberg to fact-check various statements Supreme Court nominee Judge Brett Kavanaugh made at his hearing last week.

AILSA CHANG, HOST:

President Trump also fielded questions about his Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh during his press conference in the Rose Garden.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

PRESIDENT DONALD TRUMP: I want them to do a very comprehensive investigation - whatever that means according to the senators and the Republicans and the Republican majority. I want them to do that.

CHANG: We're going to take a closer look at that FBI investigation in a few moments. But first, let's examine some of the things that Kavanaugh said last Thursday under oath before the Senate Judiciary Committee. These are statements that he asserted as fact, but they're statements some people have disputed. With us now to walk through some of the questionable moments during Kavanaugh's testimony is Jon Greenberg. He's a staff writer at PolitiFact and a former NPR reporter. Welcome.

JON GREENBERG: Good to be with you.

CHANG: I want to start with a statement Kavanaugh made about what other people at the gathering Christine Blasey Ford describes from 36 years ago - what those people say they remember. Take a listen.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

BRETT KAVANAUGH: Dr. Ford's allegation is not merely uncorroborated. It is refuted by the very people she says were there, including by a longtime friend of hers - refuted.

CHANG: Refuted - Kavanaugh is saying those people have refuted Ford's recollection of what happened. Is that accurate?

GREENBERG: Not quite accurate because the bulk of their statements are that they don't remember. Now, the letters vary in terms of how emphatically they don't remember and how emphatically they deny what they think was happening in that summer. But there is a big difference between not remembering and refuting. And it's why having FBI investigators get involved might help the senators drill down on this.

CHANG: OK, let's turn to another statement - this one where Kavanaugh has been asked about drinking while he was underage.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

KAVANAUGH: The drinking age was 18 in Maryland for most of my time in high school. And it was 18 in D.C. for all my time in high school.

CHANG: All right, Jon, did Kavanaugh get the law right? Was 18 the drinking age at the time in both places?

GREENBERG: Brett Kavanaugh got it wrong for Maryland. In Maryland, the drinking age in the summer of 1982 went from 18 to 21. So at the time, it would be very likely that Brett Kavanaugh, being someone who was less than 21, was not drinking legally at least for half of the summer.

CHANG: There are also moments where Kavanaugh talks about how much he drank back then. He repeatedly mentioned that he liked beer. But he says, as much as he liked beer, his drinking was not out of control. Here's how he put it.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

KAVANAUGH: I liked beer. I still like beer. But I did not drink beer to the point of blacking out, and I never sexually assaulted anyone.

CHANG: How firmly can Kavanaugh insist that he never drank to the point of blacking out? Has there been any evidence to challenge that so far?

GREENBERG: We've heard from people who went to high school with him, college with him, who said that, yeah, he drank a lot and that he would be a very sloppy drunk. But how is anyone to sort this out? I think that it's extremely difficult because the whole nature of this is very subjective. It's not the sort of thing that lends itself to a fact check, per se. I think it's right there on the margins of - unless the guy was taken to the ER, and there is an official record of that, this is going to be extremely difficult to pin down.

CHANG: Jon Greenberg is a staff writer at PolitiFact. a fact. Thank you very much.

GREENBERG: My pleasure.

[POST-BROADCAST CORRECTION: In this report, our guest indicates that Brett Kavanaugh would not have been drinking legally for at least half of the summer of 1982. Kavanaugh was only 17 that summer and would have been drinking illegally the entire time regardless of the change in the law.]

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Correction Oct. 2, 2018

In this report, our guest indicates that Brett Kavanaugh would not have been drinking legally for at least half of the summer of 1982. Kavanaugh was only 17 that summer and would have been drinking illegally the entire time regardless of the change in the law.