President Donald Trump offered an apology “on behalf of the nation” to Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh at his White House swearing-in Monday night — and lashed out at “a campaign of political and personal destruction based on lies and deception.”
At the East Room ceremony, Trump said “we have long been told that the most important decision a president can make is the appointment of a Supreme Court justice,” declaring he would “proudly” swear in the newest member of the nation’s high court.
But he wasted no time in denouncing the chaotic nomination process that included an 11th-hour accusation of sexual assault against Kavanaugh by Christine Blasey Ford.
“On behalf of the nation, I'd like to apologize to Brett and the entire Kavanaugh family for the terrible pain and suffering you've been forced to endure,” Trump said.
“Those who stepped forward to serve our country deserve a fair and dignified evaluation. Not a campaign of political and personal destruction based on lies and deception.
“What happened to the Kavanaugh family violates every notion of fairness, decency and due process. In our country, a man or a woman must always be presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty. And with that, I must state that you… under historic scrutiny were proven innocent.”
Trump said that "under historic scrutiny," Kavanaugh was "proven innocent."
The bitter partisan fight over Kavanaugh's nomination became a firestorm after sexual misconduct allegations emerged involving Kavanaugh. He emphatically denied the allegations.
The other eight justices were all in attendance for Monday's swearing-in, which is entirely ceremonial. Kavanaugh officially became a member of the high court Saturday. Kavanaugh already has been at the Supreme Court preparing for his first day on the bench Tuesday.
In his own remarks after taking a cermonial oath, Kavanaugh said the Supreme Court "is not a partisan or political institution," and promised to "always be a team player on a team of nine."
Kavanaugh described the confirmation process as "contentious and emotional" but said he has "no bitterness."
All four of the clerks who will work for him at the high court are women, he added.
© Copyright 2022 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.