Amid nationwide protests and impending testimony Thursday, Judge Brett Kavanaugh told Fox News on Monday night that none of his alleged sexual misconduct with women happened and that all he wants is a “fair process” when he testifies before the Senate Judiciary Committee on Thursday.
“I’m not going anywhere,” Kavanaugh declared in a rare interview with Fox News host Martha MacCallum, who had asked him whether he considered withdrawing from the nomination because of the sexual misconduct allegations. Those claims, now from at least two women, arose after Kavanaugh’s first round of confirmation hearings earlier in September.
Christine Blasey Ford, now a professor in California, alleges that Kavanaugh, as a high school student during the 1980s in suburban Washington, pinned her to a bed at a party, tried to pull her clothing off and covered her mouth to stop her from screaming. Another woman, Deborah Ramirez, claims Kavanaugh, as a Yale University undergraduate, exposed himself to her.
“I’m not going to let false accusations drive us out of this process,” Kavanaugh said Monday night. “And we’re looking for a fair process where I can be heard and defend my integrity, my lifelong record of promoting dignity and equality, starting with the women who knew me when I was 14 years old.”
Kavanaugh appeared on the verge of tears at times during the Fox interview. And the spectacle of a Supreme Court nominee being asked if he was a virgin during high school and college bordered on the surreal. His answer was, “Many years after. I’ll leave it at that. Many years after.”
Asked if he expects President Donald Trump to support him in the next, possibly most difficult, phase of his confirmation proceeding, Kavanaugh said, “I know he’s going to stand by me. He called me this afternoon, and he said he’s standing by me.”
But Kavanaugh declined to comment on several subjects, or deflected, instead repeating his desire for a “fair process.” His reaction to detailed questions may be a forecast of how he will respond on Thursday, when he and Ford will testify separately before a national audience.
1. Kavanaugh was asked twice where he thought the claims from the women were coming from. President Trump on Monday declared the allegations were “political.” MacCallum asked Kavanaugh at one point: “You don’t want to talk about where you think this is coming from?” Kavanaugh’s response: “I just want an opportunity, a fair process where I can defend my integrity.”
2. Why not let the FBI be a part of the process? Asked if an FBI investigation of the allegations might be useful to “sort it all out,” Kavanaugh sidestepped the question and said, “I was first interviewed last Monday, the day after the allegation appeared, by the committee staff under penalty of felony, and I denied this categorically and unequivocally and I said twice during that, I said, ‘I want a hearing tomorrow,’ last Tuesday, a week ago.”
3. Kavanaugh didn’t get into any detail about drinking at the various parties he attended. Ford alleged Kavanaugh and a friend were “stumbling drunk” at the time of the alleged assault. He denied being at the party Ford described but did say he attended parties in high school. “The drinking age was 18, and yes, the seniors were legal and had beer there,” Kavanaugh told MacCallum. “And yes, people might have had too many beers on occasion and people generally in high school—I think all of us have probably done things we look back on in high school and regret or cringe a bit, but that’s not what we’re talking about. We’re talking about an allegation of sexual assault.”
Meanwhile, attorneys for Ford, in a letter Monday to Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Charles Grassley, R-Iowa, challenged the chairman’s assurances that their client would receive a “fair and credible process” based on floor statements Monday by Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell, who called the allegations against Kavanaugh part of a “smear campaign.”
Bromwich also took aim at Grassley’s hiring of an “unnamed ‘experienced sex crimes prosecutor’” to conduct questioning of Kavanaugh and Ford during Thursday’s hearing. Senate judiciary leaders late Monday had not revealed the lawyer’s identity.
The hiring of an outside lawyer, Bromwich wrote, is “contrary to the majority’s repeated emphasis on the need for the Senate and this Committee’s members to fulfill their constitutional obligations. It is also inconsistent with your stated wish to avoid a ‘circus,’ as well as Dr. Blasey Ford’s repeated requests through counsel that senators conduct the questioning.” Bromwich said the hearing is not a criminal trial. The goal of the hearing, Bromwich said, “should be to develop the relevant facts, not try a case.”