Published 9:57 PM EDT Sep 24, 2018
WASHINGTON – Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh spoke to Fox News in an interview aired Monday night on "The Story with Martha MacCallum," following allegations of sexual misconduct by two women.
Sitting next to his wife, Ashley Estes Kavanaugh, the nominee flatly refuted the accusations as he sought to defend himself days before the Senate Judiciary Committee is scheduled to have another hearing on his confirmation. President Donald Trump nominated Kavanaugh in July to succeed Justice Anthony Kennedy on the high court.
That vote on Kavanaugh's nomination has been pushed back so he can answer allegations leveled by one of his accusers: psychology researcher and Palo Alto University professor Christine Blasey Ford. She alleges that, while both were in high school, Kavanaugh held her down, put his hand over her mouth to silence her, and tried to remove her clothes.
A second woman, Deborah Ramirez, a Yale University classmate of Kavanaugh's, claims that he exposed himself to her and shoved his penis in her face at a dorm room party in their freshman year at the Ivy League school. She said they were playing a drinking game at the time and admits there are gaps in her memory of that night.
Here are five takeaways from the interview:
Kavanaugh a 'virgin' in high school
The judge said he never had sexual intercourse "or anything close to (it)" until long after he left Georgetown Prep, the elite all-boys Catholic high school he attended in Rockville, Maryland.
“So you’re saying through all these years that are in question that you were a virgin?” MacCallum asked Kavanaugh.
“That’s correct," he replied.
She pressed on: “And through what years in college, since we’re probing into your personal life here?”
“Many years after, I’ll leave it at that," he answered. "Many years after."
Kavanaugh was emphatic in his denials
“The truth is I’ve never sexually assaulted anyone, in high school or otherwise. I am not questioning and have not questioned that perhaps Dr. Ford at some point in her life was sexually assaulted by someone at some place, but what I know is I’ve never sexually assaulted anyone,” Kavanaugh said.
He went further by saying he wasn't even in the same place where Ford was when the alleged assault took place.
“I was never at any such party," he told MacCallum. "The other people who alleged to be present have said they do not remember any such party. A woman who was present, another woman who was present who was Dr. Ford’s lifelong friend has said she doesn’t know me and never remembers being at a party with me at any time in her life.”
The judge said he won't withdraw
Kavanaugh appears resolute about his desire to be confirmed to the nation's highest court.
“I’m not going to let false accusations drive us out of this process and we’re looking for a fair process where I can be heard and defend my integrity, my lifelong record," Kavanaugh said.
"My lifelong record of promoting dignity and equality for women starting with the women who knew me when I was 14 years old," he continued. "I’m not going anywhere.”
So far, Trump is standing by his pick. He told reporters during an appearance at the United Nations General Assembly in New York that Kavanaugh "is an absolutely outstanding person. Hopefully he will be confirmed quickly."
He spoke with his wife at his side
Ashley Kavanaugh sat next to her husband as he forcefully defended himself.
Often nodding in agreement as the judge spoke, Ashley Kavanaugh said she's known him for 17 years and described him as "decent ... kind ... and good" as she defended him.
"It's been very difficult to have these conversations with your children," she told MacCallum. "But they know Brett and they know the truth. And we told them from the very beginning of this process this will be not fun sometimes. You're going to hear things. People feel strongly and you need to know that. Just remember you know your dad."
Ashley Kavanaugh was the personal secretary to President George W. Bush when Brett Kavanaugh worked in the White House. His first date with his future bride was Sept. 10, 2001. The next morning, they were among those whisked out of the White House during the 9/11 attacks.
He chose a friendly audience for the interview
Kavanaugh chose Fox News for his only interview – so far – to refute the allegations.
MacCallum, who joined Fox News Channel in 2004, is one of the more prominent personalities on a network that features Sean Hannity, Geraldo Rivera and Brit Hume.
She did not pull punches.
MacCallum pointedly asked Kavanaugh to address: the specific allegations (he repeatedly refuted them); whether he had ever blacked out from drinking too much in high school (he said that never happened); and whether similar allegations by someone in high school should count against them later in life ("I think everyone's judged on their whole life," he responded.)
Shaunna Thomas, executive director of UltraViolet Action, a progressive groups that opposes Kavanaugh's confirmation, criticized the judge for choosing the "comfort of a partisan network" to air his denials.
“If Kavanaugh really wanted to get to the truth, he’d go to the FBI, not Fox News," she said. "This was the move of a political hack, not a nominee to the Supreme Court."