Photo: Jacquelyn Martin (AP)

During his hearing with the Senate Judiciary Committee last Thursday, Supreme Court Nominee Brett Kavanaugh claimed that the first time he had heard of the allegations that he exposed himself to a Yale classmate, Deborah Ramirez, the same way everyone else did: in the September 23 article in the New Yorker. But according to a new series of text messages obtained by NBC News, that may not be true. In fact, the messages allege that before the publication of the New Yorker piece, Kavanaugh and his “team” were already working hard to refute or suppress Ramirez’s story.

NBC’s scoop relies on messages between a Yale classmate of Kavanaugh’s, Kerry Berchem, and another friend, Karen Yarasavage.

Per NBC News:

The texts between Berchem and Karen Yarasavage, both friends of Kavanaugh, suggest that the nominee was personally talking with former classmates about Ramirez’s story in advance of the New Yorker article that made her allegation public. In one message, Yarasavage said Kavanaugh asked her to go on the record in his defense. Two other messages show communication between Kavanaugh’s team and former classmates in advance of the story.

Further down, there’s some more detail as to what was actually in the messages, including a reference to a wedding party photo that Kavanaugh appears in with Ramirez, which was taken 10 years after their graduation from Yale (emphasis mine). Yarasavage was the bride; Ramirez was one of her bridesmaids. Kavanaugh was a groomsman.

In a series of texts before the publication of the New Yorker story, Yarasavage wrote that she had been in contact with “Brett’s guy,” and also with “Brett,” who wanted her to go on the record to refute Ramirez. According to Berchem, Yarasavage also told her friend that she turned over a copy of the wedding party photo to Kavanaugh, writing in a text: “I had to send it to Brett’s team too.”

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What’s more, Berchem told NBC (and the FBI, in a memo she sent it about the texts) that the ass-covering process could have started as far back as July.

Per NBC:

Further, the texts show Kavanaugh may need to be questioned about how far back he anticipated that Ramirez would air allegations against him. Berchem says in her memo that Kavanaugh “and/or” his friends “may have initiated an anticipatory narrative” as early as July to “conceal or discredit” Ramirez.

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Berchem also says that the existence of the photo showing both Ramirez and Kavanaugh doesn’t mean the two stayed friends.

According to the information Berchem provided, Ramirez tried to avoid Kavanaugh at that wedding of their two friends, Yarasavage and Kevin Genda.

Ramirez, “clung to me” at the wedding, Berchem wrote to Yarasavage in a Sept. 24th text message. “She never went near them,” a reference to Kavanaugh and his friends. Even in the group photo, Berchem wrote, Ramirez was trying to keep away from Kavanaugh.

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According to NBC, Berchem has tried repeatedly to get the text messages to the FBI, at one point directly emailing them to a special agent involved in the ongoing investigation into Ramirez’s allegations. The FBI is currently engaged in a one-week extension of Kavanaugh’s original background check, which was shoehorned in at the 11th hour by Jeff Flake attempting to cover his own ass on the Senate Judicial Committee. The FBI is in contact with Ramirez, but it remains to be seen whether classmates like Berchem and Chad Ludington, who alleged on Sunday night that Kavanaugh was a frequently belligerent drunk during college, will be interviewed during the investigation.