‘I will not be intimidated’: Trump’s Supreme Court pick Kavanaugh denies sexual assault claims

Brett Kavanaugh’s defense came after a university professor, Christine Blasey Ford, told the Senate Judiciary Committee that he sexually assaulted her 36 years ago.
US Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh testifies before the Senate Judiciary Committee in Washington.(Reuters)
US Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh testifies before the Senate Judiciary Committee in Washington.(Reuters)
Updated on Sep 28, 2018 02:23 AM IST
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Washington | ByAgence France-Presse

A defiant Brett Kavanaugh, United States President Donald Trump’s nominee for the Supreme Court, angrily denied sexual assault allegations on Thursday and condemned his bitter Senate confirmation process as a “national disgrace”.

Kavanaugh’s passionate defense came after a university professor, Christine Blasey Ford, told the Senate Judiciary Committee that he sexually assaulted her 36 years ago.

The allegations against the 53-year-old conservative judge have thrust the Trump administration into the #MeToo movement’s harsh glare, and threaten to derail its bid to tilt the nation’s highest court to the right for years to come.

“I categorically and unequivocally deny the allegation by Dr. Ford,” said Kavanaugh, whose voice shook with anger during an opening statement that saw him repeatedly shed tears. “I’ve never sexually assaulted anyone, not in high school, not in college, not ever.”

“I am innocent of this charge,” Kavanaugh thundered.

Earlier, during four hours of emotionally-charged testimony, Blasey Ford, 51, said she was “100 percent” certain Kavanaugh was her assailant and it was “absolutely not” a case of mistaken identify.

Kavanaugh slammed what he called a “grotesque and coordinated character assassination” and a “calculated and orchestrated political hit.”

“My family and my name have been permanently destroyed by vicious and false accusations,” Kavanaugh said.

“This confirmation process has become a national disgrace.”

But he said he would not withdraw his candidacy for a spot on the nine-member Supreme Court.

“I will not be intimidated into withdrawing from this process,” Kavanaugh said. “You may defeat me in the final vote but you’ll never get me to quit. Never.”

Trump nominated Kavanaugh to replace Justice Anthony Kennedy, who had been a swing vote on a court now divided between four conservative and four liberal justices.

The Republican president has fiercely defended his pick — but said he would watch the highly charged hearing and was open to changing his mind.

The White House confirmed that Trump watched the testimony aboard Air Force One as he returned to Washington from New York.

Kavanaugh has also been accused of exposing himself to a classmate, Deborah Ramirez, during an alcohol-fuelled Yale University party a few years later.

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