Max Stier, the man behind a new sexual misconduct allegation against Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh, was not only a former classmate of Kavanaugh’s at Yale but also a foe during the Bill Clinton impeachment trial.
Stier, 53, served on the team defending Clinton, while Kavanaugh served on Independent Counsel Kenneth Starr’s team that was investigating Clinton. As Yale Daily News put it:
In 1994, Kavanaugh joined the legal team, led by Kenneth Starr, that was looking into President Bill Clinton’s real estate dealings as part of the Whitewater investigation. Later that decade, Kavanaugh co-wrote the Starr Report, which established broad grounds for Clinton’s impeachment.
Those proceedings pitted Kavanaugh against a former Yale classmate, Max Stier ’87, a fellow member of Stiles College who was one of several attorneys representing Clinton during the investigation.
The Federalist’s Mollie Hemingway noted in a piece that during those proceedings Stier had “worked closely with David Kendall,” who would later defend Hillary Clinton against allegations of illegally handling classified information.
Stier once worked for a Republican congressman decades ago — Rep. Jim Leach (R-IA) in 1982, but he would later donate to Democrats. He donated $250 to the Democratic National Committee in 2000 while he worked at Housing and Urban Development, and then donated about $1,000 to former President Barack Obama in 2007 and 2008, according to the Federal Election Commission website.
In 2004, Stier, then divorced, married then-assistant U.S. attorney Florence Yu Pan, according to a New York Times wedding announcement. The wedding took place in Washington, D.C.
That same year, a person by the name of “Florence Pan” in Washington, D.C., donated $500 to John Kerry’s campaign for president.
Pan was later nominated by President Obama to be a federal judge for the Washington, D.C., U.S. District Court in April 2016, but the nomination expired before the Senate could vote on it. She is currently an associate judge on the D.C. Superior Court.
Stier currently is the CEO and president of the Parternship for Public Service, a non-partisan organization that advocates for federal employees. He has been frequently interviewed by national news outlets on the issue of government service.
Since President Trump’s tenure, Stier has been careful not to criticize Trump, although he has in several interviews disparaged the notion of the “Deep State” and defended federal employees as hardworking public servants.
Stier’s allegation against Kavanaugh became public in a New York Times piece that ran on Saturday, as an adaptation of a newly-published book on the now-Supreme Court justice. The piece said:
A classmate, Max Stier, saw Mr. Kavanaugh with his pants down at a different drunken dorm party, where friends pushed his penis into the hand of a female student. Mr. Stier, who runs a nonprofit organization in Washington, notified senators and the F.B.I. about this account, but the F.B.I. did not investigate and Mr. Stier has declined to discuss it publicly.
The Times later added to its piece: “We corroborated the story with two officials who have communicated with Mr. Stier; the female student declined to be interviewed and friends say she does not recall the episode.”
Former Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Chuck Grassley said Monday during a floor speech that Stier never told his committee, which was overseeing Kavanaugh’s confirmation and handling the investigation into him, about his allegation, according to the Hill.
“That person, Mr. Stier, didn’t reach out or provide information to the committee majority. … My office never received anything from Mr. Stier or his unnamed friends,” Grassley said.
“Had my staff received substantive allegations or had he approached me or my staff, we would have attempted to take a statement and interview him,” he added.
Stier reportedly had contacted a Democrat senator on the Senate Judiciary Committee — Sen. Chris Coons (D-DE) — with his allegation. Coons later would reportedly send a letter to FBI Director Christopher Wray asking that he follow up with Stier, copying Grassley and Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-CA).
Grassley slammed the New York Times during his speech, asking, “Who will watch the watchmen?”
“This week’s report includes some embarrassing, irresponsible missteps,” he added. “This is not an allegation. It’s barely a third-hand rumor.”
One of the authors of the book and the Times piece said Stier did not speak to them for the book. Asked why, co-author Robin Pogrebin said, “My sense is that he feels as if he did his duty, which was he brought the information that he had to the Senate — to senators and to the FBI.
“He made them all very aware that he had this experience that he had witnessed firsthand in a dorm room during his freshman year at Yale. What they did with that information was up to them. It never materialized and became part of the process. Brett Kavanaugh was confirmed and he was done. His work had been done. He had done his part. And he had no interest in revisiting it.”
Max Stier refused to talk to authors of new anti-Kavanaugh book. From MSNBC: pic.twitter.com/GiorY47AD3
— Byron York (@ByronYork) September 17, 2019
Since coming under scrutiny, Democrats and Never Trumpers have rushed to defend Stier.
Never Trump Jennifer Rubin, a Times columnist, tweeted Sunday: “I know Max Stier. He is scrupulously honest and nonpartisan.”
I know Max Stier. He is scrupulously honest and nonpartisan.
— Jennifer Rubin (@JRubinBlogger) September 15, 2019
Former Obama chief strategist David Axelrod also vouched for Stier in a tweet on Monday: “Max Stier is a very credible and highly respected person.”
We really need to know why the FBI didn’t investigate this allegation? Were they restrained by the White House? The Judiciary Committee itself?
Max Stier is a very credible and highly respected person.https://t.co/mraMrjqqfQ
— David Axelrod (@davidaxelrod) September 16, 2019
Follow Kristina Wong at @Kristina_Wong.