Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh has never sexually assaulted anybody.
At least, that’s what Kavanaugh says. And he’ll repeat that denial again Thursday, when both Kavanaugh and California professor Christine Blasey Ford will testify in front of the Senate Judiciary Committee about Ford’s allegation that Kavanaugh pinned her to a bed, groped her, and covered her mouth at a high school party in the 1980s.
Three women, including Ford, have now publicly accused Kavanaugh of sexual misconduct in high school or college. As the accusations against him have piled up, Kavanaugh has stuck to a few talking points, such as reiterating several times that he’s always treated women with “dignity and respect,” a phrase he repeated four times in a Fox News interview this week. But Kavanaugh has also grown more forceful in his insistence that his accusers are wrong. While he started out simply denying Ford’s allegations, he has since called the women’s accusations “smears” and, in at least one case, “total Twilight Zone.”
Interestingly, Kavanaugh has refrained from alleging that Ford is lying about whether the assault took place. Instead, he has suggested that Ford is simply confused about who assaulted her. While then-Supreme Court nominee Clarence Thomas outright refuted Anita Hill’s claims that he sexually harassed her, Kavanaugh’s reluctance to do the same perhaps indicates an awareness that, in a post-#MeToo world, calling a woman a liar won’t play well.
But Kavanaugh’s absolute denials and insistence that he didn’t drink to the point of blacking out may still prove to be a problem for him Thursday. If the Democrats can create enough doubt about the validity of any of his claims — even if they cause senators to doubt only whether Kavanaugh is telling the truth about his youthful drinking habits — Kavanaugh’s entire credibility as a nominee could be compromised.
Here’s what Kavanaugh has said about the allegations against him so far:
Sept. 14, in response to Ford’s accusation: “I categorically and unequivocally deny this allegation. I did not do this back in high school or at any time.” (Per a statement to the Washington Post.)
Sept. 17, after the White House said the Senate Judiciary Committee would invite Ford to testify: “This is a completely false allegation. I have never done anything like what the accuser describe — to her or to anyone. Because this never happened, I had no idea who was making the accusation until she identified herself yesterday. I am willing to talk to the Senate Judiciary Committee in any way the Committee deems appropriate to refute this false allegation, from 36 years ago, and defend my integrity.” (Per a statement to Fox News.)
Sept. 20: “Since the moment I first heard this allegation, I have categorically and unequivocally denied it. I remain committed to defending my integrity.” (Per a statement to Buzzfeed News.)
Sept. 23, after Deborah Ramirez told the New Yorker that Kavanaugh had exposed himself to her and thrust his penis into her face: “This alleged event from 35 years ago did not happen. The people who knew me then know that this did not happen, and have said so. This is a smear, plain and simple. I look forward to testifying on Thursday about the truth, and defending my good name—and the reputation for character and integrity I have spent a lifetime building—against these last-minute allegations.” (Per a statement to the New Yorker.)
Sept. 24: “There is now a frenzy to come up with something — anything — that will block this process and a vote on my confirmation from occurring. These are smears, pure and simple. And they debase our public discourse. But they are also a threat to any man or woman who wishes to serve our country. Such grotesque and obvious character assassination — if allowed to succeed — will dissuade competent and good people of all political persuasions from service.” (Per a statement to the Senate Judiciary Committee.)
Sept. 25: “I had never sexually assaulted anyone, not in high school, not ever. I’ve always treated women with dignity and respect. Listen to the people who’ve known me best through my whole life, the women who have known me since high school, the 65 who overnight signed a letter from high school saying I always treated them with dignity and respect.”
“I am not questioning and have not questioned that perhaps Dr. Ford at some point in her life was sexually assaulted by someone in some place.”
“The drinking age was 18, and yes, the seniors were legal and had beer there. 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. I’ve never sexually assaulted anyone. I did not have sexual intercourse or anything close to sexual intercourse in high school or for many years thereafter.” (Per an interview with Fox News.)
Sept. 25, after Julie Swetnick said she attended a party with Kavanaugh, where she was gang-raped: “I think it's absurd, outrageous, a joke, a farce, the Twilight Zone.” (Per an interview with the Senate Judiciary Committee.)
Sept. 25, after an anonymous letter alleged that Kavanaugh had shoved the letter-writer’s friend “up against the wall very aggressively and sexually”: “We're dealing with an anonymous letter about an anonymous person and an anonymous friend. It's ridiculous. Total Twilight Zone. And no, I've never done anything like that.” (Per that same interview with the Senate Judiciary Committee.)
Sept. 26, after Swetnick went public with her allegations: “I don’t know who this is and this never happened.” (Per a statement to Politico.)
Sept. 26: “The allegation of misconduct is completely inconsistent with the rest of my
life. The record of my life, from my days in grade school through the present day,
shows that I have always promoted the equality and dignity of women.”
“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. 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. I am innocent of this charge.” (Per Kavanaugh’s planned opening remarks.)
Cover: U.S. Supreme Court nominee Judge Brett Kavanaugh leaves his home September 26, 2018 in Chevy Chase, Maryland. Kavanaugh is scheduled to appear again before the Senate Judiciary Committee on Thursday to respond to the allegation of sexual assault by accuser Christine Blasey Ford. (Photo by Mark Wilson/Getty Images)