Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh said he reached out to disgraced Judge Alex Kozinski after his resignation because he was “concerned about his mental health.”
Kozinski resigned in December 2017 after multiple former clerks and junior staffers came forward with allegations of sexual misconduct against him. Kavanaugh said during his confirmation hearings last week that when he learned about the allegations when they were made public, it was a “gut punch” for him.
Kavanaugh once clerked for Kozinski, but in his written responses to senators on the Judiciary Committee, said that he was not aware of the misconduct until it was made public by news outlets.
“And when I heard, when it became public I think it was in December it was a gut punch. It was a gut punch for me. It was a gut punch for the judiciary, and I was shocked and disappointed, angry, a swirl of emotions,” Kavanaugh recalled at his Senate hearing last week.
Kozinski served as chief judge on the 9th US Circuit Court of Appeals for several years.
In 2008, The Los Angeles Times reported that Kozinski would send controversial jokes to an e-mail list titled the Easy Rider Gag List and that the judge had a publicly accessible website that included sexually explicit material.
“I believe that I first became aware of this website when news of the website broke publicly in news outlets, which led to the 2008 – 2009 judicial misconduct investigation,” Kavanaugh wrote in his written answers to lawmakers.
Kavanaugh also denied having knowledge of sexual misconduct allegations against Kozinski, including accusations that Kozinski would share sexually explicit images with his law clerks.
“I was unaware of any allegation that Judge Kozinski shared pornography with law clerks until I read the story in the news in late 2017,” Kavanaugh said in his written answers.
When he resigned in 2017, Kozinski wrote, “I’ve always had a broad sense of humor and a candid way of speaking to both male and female law clerks alike. In doing so, I may not have been mindful enough of the special challenges and pressures that women face in the workplace. It grieves me to learn that I caused any of my clerks to feel uncomfortable; this was never my intent.”
CNN’s Tammy Kupperman, Dan Berman, Ariane De Vogue and Laura Jarrett contributed to this report.