Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh did something truly unprecedented in order to push back against the allegations of sexual assault and misconduct leveled at him.
He appeared on cable news to defend himself using tricks straight out of President Donald Trump’s apparent playbook – and he did not choose just any news channel to present his side of the story, which mainly consisted of aggressive denial, he selected Fox News for the job.
Even the commander-in-chief promoted the interview.
It shouldn’t have come as a surprise given the Trump administration’s close relationship with the conservative network, but the fact a potential Supreme Court judge decided to give an interview to a news channel amid heated confirmation battle is extremely unusual.
For the longest of times, justices on the nation's highest court (and the prospective candidates) have maintained a safe distance from the press. In fact, for those who might not remember, Ruth Bader Ginsburg had to apologize for criticizing then-Republican presidential frontrunner Trump in remarks to media.
Kavanaugh’s appearance on Fox News was his first televised interview ever since Palo Alto university professor Christine Blasey Ford accused him of sexual assault during a high school party when she was 15 and her alleged assailant was 17-year-old. Her allegations were followed by another woman, who claimed Kavanaugh exposed himself to her when they were at Yale University.
Ashley Estes Kavanaugh, the SCOTUS nominee’s wife, sat next to him during the interview with Fox News host Martha MacCallum.
Here are the highlights:
“I’ve never sexually assaulted anyone in high school or otherwise”
Kavanaugh used this line multiple times during the 20-minute interview.
However, since insisting he had never assaulted the alleged victims wasn’t enough, the judge went a step further to prove (in his own way) he couldn’t have assaulted anyone as a teenager.
“We’re talking about allegations of sexual assault. I have never sexually assaulted anyone,” the nominee told MacCallum. “I did not have sexual intercourse, or anything close to sexual intercourse, in high school or many years thereafter.”
With mere days before both Kavanaugh and Blasey are supposed to testify in front of Senate Judiciary Committee, the judge attempted to use “virginity” as a line of defense.
Would that excuse hold up in Kavanaugh’s court?
Probably (read: hopefully) not.
“I have always treated women with dignity and respect”
According to the accusations leveled against him, the judge pushed Ford into a bedroom during a party back in 1982, where he allegedly assaulted her. She recalled the incident during an interview with The Washington Post, saying she thought the judge would “inadvertently kill her” as he held her down with his hand on her mouth to drown her protests.
Ford alleged when Kavanaugh tried pulling her clothing, another one of his classmates, Mark Judge, was present in the room. They played loud music so that any yell for help would not be heard. She managed to escape after the SCOTUS nominee’s friend allegedly jumped on them. Kavanaugh and his friend stumbled after her, as she locked herself in the bathroom.
She described the altercation as a “rape attempt” to one of her therapists.
Meanwhile, second Kavanaugh accuser Deborah Ramirez told the New Yorker she was invited by a friend on the women’s soccer team to a dorm party at Yale’s old Campus during the academic year 1983-1984. The group decided to play a drinking game together and Ramirez said she was chosen repeatedly to drink and quickly became intoxicated. She recalled that at one time a male student pointed a gag plastic penis in her direction and then another student exposed himself to her.
She now claims it was Kavanaugh, who “thrust his penis in her face, and caused her to touch it without her consent as she pushed him away.”
This is what the judge said to defend himself:
“We're looking for a fair process where I can be heard and defend my integrity and my lifelong record of promoting dignity and equality for women, starting with the women who knew me when I was 14 years old. I'm not going anywhere,” Kavanaugh continued. “I know I'm telling the truth. I know my lifelong record, and I'm not going to let false accusations drive me out of this process.”
He also repeated the line “I have always treated women with dignity and respect” several times.
“I was focused on academics and athletics, going to church every Sunday”
Kavanaugh claimed he spent most of his teenage days studying hard, participating in sports or going to church.
“I was focused on academics and athletics, going to church every Sunday at Little Flower, working on my service projects, and friendship,” he told Fox News.
For instance, Kavanaugh's Yale roommate James Roche said he remembered the judge “frequently drinking excessively and becoming incoherently drunk.” He also said he was inclined to believe the sexual misconduct allegations by Ramirez.
However, the SOCTUS nominee said had he done what Ramirez has accused him of doing, “it would have been the talk of campus.”
Trump’s “Deny and Push Back” Strategy
A lot of what Kavanaugh said during the interview echoed the president’s response to such matters.
Trump, who has since defended his Supreme Court nominee against the accusations, is not entirely unfamiliar to sexual assault allegations himself.
The commander-in-chief has been accused of inappropriate behavior and misconduct by over a dozen women. He was also caught on tape bragging about using his stardom to grope and molest women without their consent.
According to renowned Watergate journalist Bob Woodward’s book on the Trump administration, “Fear,” the former reality TV star is a huge fan of using the denial strategy when it comes to facing damaging allegations.
“Trump gave some private advice to a friend who had acknowledged some bad behavior toward women. Real power is fear. It’s all about strength. Never show weakness. You’ve always got to be strong. Don’t be bullied. There is no choice,” Woodward wrote in his book. “‘You’ve got to deny, deny, deny and push back on these women,’ he said. ‘If you admit to anything and any culpability, then you’re dead. That was a big mistake you made. You didn’t come out guns blazing and just challenge them. You showed weakness. You’ve got to be strong. You’ve got to be aggressive. You’ve got to push back hard. You’ve got to deny anything that’s said about you. Never admit.’”
This is exactly what Kavanaugh seemed to be doing – and it’s extremely problematic.
Kavanaugh’s Calendar Defense
Speaking of problematic defenses, Kavanaugh earlier drew ire for deciding to give the Senate Judiciary Committee the calendars from 1982 to back up his claim that he is innocent. Since the calendars, which the judge still has for some reason, made no mention of a scheduled engagement the night of the alleged assault, it must mean nothing happened, right?
No it doesn’t.
While social media users dragged him for providing this supposed proof, the question still stands if these evidences would hold any place in Kavanaugh’s court? If an alleged criminal claimed he didn’t commit a felony on the date of the crime because there was no such entry in his calendar, would the judge declare him innocent?
It doesn’t work like that, and although Kavanaugh’s team admitted the calendars did not refute the alleged assault, the SOCTUS nominee should’ve known better than attempting to submit it.
Since Trump is continuously singing his praises and has even called him a “fine man,” it is pretty clear from where Kavanaugh is getting all his tricks and tips to deal with sexual misconduct allegations.
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