WASHINGTON — President Donald Trump opened a ceremonial swearing-in of Associate Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh on Monday by apologizing on the nation’s behalf “for the terrible pain and suffering you have been forced to endure.”
“Those who step forward to serve our country deserve a fair and dignified evaluation, not a campaign of political and personal destruction based on lies and deception,” Trump said in a ceremony in the East Room of the White House attended by all the other sitting Supreme Court justices.
“What happened to the Kavanaugh family violates every notion of fairness, decency and due process,” Trump said.
The president said that in the United States, “every man or woman must always be presumed innocent unless, and until, proven guilty.
“And with that I must say, that you sir, under historic scrutiny were proven innocent,” Trump told Kavanaugh.
When he testified before the Senate Judiciary Committee last month, Kavanaugh angrily and emotionally denounced the confirmation process as “a national disgrace”, attributing the scrutiny to Democrats, left-wing groups and “revenge on behalf of the Clintons.” He was responding to allegations of Christine Blasey Ford, who had testified earlier in the day that she was “100 percent” Kavanaugh had sexually assaulted her in the 1980s when both were teenagers.
“You have replaced ‘advise and consent’ with ‘search and destroy,” Kavanaugh told senators last month, referring to the Constitution’s charge to senators’ duties in confirming high officials.
Kavanaugh took a more measured tone on Monday, assuring the nation that the Supreme Court “is not a partisan or political institution,” and promising to “always be a team player on a team of nine.”
The Senate vote approving Kavanaugh’s nomination on Saturday followed a bitter partisan fight that became a firestorm after the sexual misconduct allegations emerged. Kavanaugh emphatically denied the allegations.
On Monday, Kavanaugh described the confirmation process as “contentious and emotional” but said he has “no bitterness.” He announced that all four of the clerks who will work for him at the high court are women.
Kavanaugh was sworn in by retired Justice Anthony Kennedy at an entirely ceremonial event Monday at the White House. Kavanaugh officially became a member of the high court Saturday. The other eight justices are all in attendance.
Kavanaugh already has been at the Supreme Court preparing for his first day on the bench Tuesday.
Earlier Monday, Trump said Kavanaugh was “caught up in a hoax that was set up by the Democrats.”
Trump says allegations of sexual misconduct against Kavanaugh were “all made up, it was fabricated and it’s a disgrace.”
Kavanaugh was accused by several women of sexual misconduct, including Ford, a California professor who testified under oath that he tried to assault her at a high school party decades ago. Kavanagh adamantly denied the allegations.
Trump had once said he found her testimony credible.
The president said he thinks many Democrats will vote Republican in next month’s mid-term elections because they’re angry about Kavanaugh’s treatment.