WASHINGTON (CN) – A stark contrast to the reserved, careful judge who sat before the committee during his nomination hearings earlier this month, Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh forcefully went after the Senate on Thursday for its handling of assault allegations against him.
Calling the process a “national disgrace,” Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh offered his defense to the Senate Judiciary Committee this afternoon after lawmakers heard nearly four hours of testimony from the professor who accuses him of sexually assaulting her when they were both in high school.
“You have replaced advise and consent with search and destroy,” Kavanaugh said.
In advance of the hearing, Kavanaugh had supplied a two-page statement of the remarks he planned to read in the Senate. Kavanaugh’s ultimate testimony proved much longer and more combative. Emotional at times, Kavanaugh promised senators he would not be “intimidated” into withdrawing his nomination and said the allegations against him have “destroyed my family and my good name.”
Christine Blasey Ford told the committee earlier in the day that she is “100 percent” certain it was Kavanaugh who forced her into a bedroom, pinned her to a bed and attempted to remove her clothes at a high school party in the 1982, but the longtime D.C. Circuit judge is prepared to categorically deny her claims.
“My family and I intend no ill will toward Dr. Ford or her family,” Kavanaugh said. “But I swear today under oath before the Senate and the nation, before my family and God, I am innocent of this charge.”
At the start of his testimony though, Kavanaugh accused Democrats of “lying in wait” with the allegations until it became clear they would not be able to sink his nomination based on his legal philosophy.
“You sowed the wind, for decades to come I fear that the whole country will reap the whirlwind,” Kavanaugh said.
The judge said his detailed calendars, which he started keeping as a diary of sorts in high school, following the model of his father, showed he was in town for only a few weekend days during the summer of 1982, when Ford says the incident took place.
He said calendars showed he had events scheduled for even the few weekend nights he was in town that summer.
Kavanaugh did acknowledge he had too much to drink at times in high school, but insisted it was never to the point that he blacked out or could not remember what happened the night before.
Kavanaugh also denied the two other allegations that have been raised against him, specifically calling the allegations from Julie Swetnick a “joke” and a “farce.” Swetnick, represented by attorney Michael Avenatti, alleged this week that she recalled Kavanaugh making an effort in high school to get women drunk at parties, and that some of these women were “gang raped” in side rooms.
Kavanaugh faced questions from Democrats about his drinking and about references in his yearbook that some have said are sexual or about hard partying.
Kavanaugh explained some of them as innocent inside jokes between his high school friends. Others, including a reference to a beach week “Ralph Club” and a reference to a “Devil’s Triangle,” were about his famously weak stomach and a drinking game similar to quarters he played with his friends, respectively.
Rachel Mitchell, the sex-crimes prosecutor who asked questions in place of Republican senators during Ford’s testimony, initially took on the same role for Kavanaugh as well. Democrats asked their own questions at the hearing.
Democrats have spent the days since the allegations became public calling on the FBI to investigate Ford’s claims. On Thursday they made multiple entreaties for Kavanaugh to himself request that the bureau open an investigation into the allegations.
Kavanaugh waved off their requests, however, telling the committee that any investigation by FBI would not include conclusions, merely a report on what the investigation uncovered. He insisted that the committee process was an effective way to reach the truth.
“You’re interviewing me, you’re doing it, senator, I’m sorry to interrupt, but you’re doing it,” Kavanaugh told Senator Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif. “There’s no conclusions reached.”
Senator Lindsey Graham was the first Republican on the day to ask his own questions instead of deferring to Mitchell. Rumored to be jockeying for the job of Attorney General Jeff Sessions, the South Carolina Graham used his time to excoriate Democrats.
Graham said Democrats purposefully sat on Ford’s allegations rather then bring them up earlier to obtain a timely FBI investigation. The senator accused Democrats of trying to “destroy” Kavanaugh and keep the vacant seat on the Supreme Court open until after the 2020 presidential election.
“This is the most unethical sham since I have been in politics,” Graham said, shouting across the dais. “And if you really wanted to know the truth, you sure as hell wouldn’t have done what you’ve done to this guy.”
After Graham, other Republican senators used their time not to ask Kavanaugh questions about the allegations, but instead to slam Democrats for their handling of the allegations.