Facing the Senate Judiciary Committee on Thursday afternoon following the emotional and heart-wrenching testimony of Dr. Christine Blasey Ford, the woman who alleges that he assaulted her at a high school party in the D.C. area in the early 1980s, Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh, looking visibly furious, made a lengthy, rambling, highly emotional opening statement, in which he reiterated his denial that he ever sexually assaulted Ford or anyone else.
“Two weeks ago, Dr. Ford publicly accused me of committing a serious wrong more than 36 years ago when we were both in high school,” Kavanaugh said. “I denied the allegation immediately, categorically, and unequivocally.”
Kavanaugh attacked Ford’s account and stressed that her friend, Leland Keyser, said she denied knowing Kavanaugh and didn’t recall the gathering in question. (Ford said during her testimony that Keyser apologized to her in a text message.)
But it was Kavanaugh’s anger, and the volatility of his aggressive emotions, that was the chief feature of his statement, which lasted for over 45 minutes. He frequently alternated between shouting and crying, and focused his opening attacks more on the committee itself, particularly its Democrats.
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“This confirmation process has become a national disgrace,” Kavanaugh said. “You have replaced advise and consent with search and destroy.”
“This whole two week effort has been a calculated and orchestrated political hit,” he continued. “Fear that has been unfairly stoked on my judicial record, revenge on behalf of the Clintons...this is a circus. The consequences will extend long past my nomination...I will not be intimidated into withdrawing from this process. You have tried hard, you’ve given it your all, no one can question your effort. But your coordinated effort to destroy my good name and family will not win out.”
At one point, Kavanaugh broke down crying while recalling that his young daughter said that the family should pray for Ford. “That’s a lot of wisdom from a 10 year old,” he said.
Kavanaugh called sexual assault “horrific” and said that allegations “must be taken seriously,” but again, denied the allegations against him.
“I categorically and unequivocally deny the allegation against me by Dr. Ford. I never had any sexual or physical encounter of any kind with Dr. Ford,” Kavanaugh said. “I am not questioning that Dr. Ford may have been sexually assaulted by some person in some place at some time. But I have never done that to her or to anyone.”
Kavanaugh said it was “possible” he met Ford, but said that he mostly hung out with girls from other area Catholic schools. He also repeatedly brought up his calendar from 1982 which he provided to the committee in an apparent attempt to show evidence for him not being there, and at various points, began crying while discussing his father and the calendars. He also became emotional while discussing a memory of lifting at his friend Tobin’s house.
The judge also emphasized that he had and still has female friends. “One feature of my life that remains true to the present days is that I’ve always had a lot of female friends,” Kavanaugh said. “I’m not talking about girlfriends. I’m talking about friends who are women.”
“I drank beer with my friends, usually on weekends. Sometimes I had too many beers, sometimes others did. I liked beer. I still like beer,” Kavanaugh said. “But I didn’t drink beer to the point of blacking out, and I didn’t sexually assault anyone.”
Kavanaugh did apologize to a woman, Renate Dolphin, who he claimed was a dear friend even though he listed himself as a “Renate Alumnius” in his Georgetown Prep yearbook, as reported by the New York Times. Kavanaugh said it was a harmless reference to a friend. Dolphin sees it a bit differently:
“I learned about these yearbook pages only a few days ago,” Ms. Dolphin said in a statement to The New York Times. “I don’t know what ‘Renate Alumnus’ actually means. I can’t begin to comprehend what goes through the minds of 17-year-old boys who write such things, but the insinuation is horrible, hurtful and simply untrue. I pray their daughters are never treated this way. I will have no further comment.”
He said that looking at his yearbook now makes him “cringe,” and blamed it on a want to emulate recent movies at the time like Animal House.
“As for sex, this is not a topic that I thought would come up at a judicial confirmation hearing,” Kavanaugh said. “I never had sex in high school or for many years after that...at the same time I was inwardly proud of it,” citing his Catholicism.
“We live in a country devoted to due process and the rule of law. That means taking allegations seriously. But if the mere assertion of an allegation...is enough to destroy a person’s life and career, we will have abandoned the basic principles of fairness and due process that define our legal system and our country,” Kavanaugh concluded. “I ask you to judge me by the standard you’d want applied to your father, your husband, your brother, or your son...I am innocent of this charge.”
Kavanaugh will now take questions from members of the Senate Judiciary Committee.
Watch his full opening remarks below: