Allies of Brett Kavanaugh are touting the performance the Supreme Court nominee and his wife gave Monday evening on Fox News as accusations of inappropriate sexual behavior from high school and college continue to threaten his nomination.
The unprecedented decision to put a Supreme Court nominee in front of a camera before his confirmation came as the White House and outside groups work to put Kavanaugh in a stronger position ahead of the Senate Judiciary Committee hearing on Thursday. Christine Blasey Ford, who has accused Kavanaugh of sexually assaulting her when they were both high school students, will also testify.
President Donald Trump took perhaps his most aggressive stand in defense of Kavanaugh to date on Tuesday, when he cast doubt on the recollections of both the women accusing Kavanaugh and slammed Democrats for playing what he described as a “con game.”
“He has the chance to be one of the greatest justices ever in the United States Supreme Court,” Trump said during a bilateral meeting with the president of Colombia in New York. “What a shame.”
A senior White House official said members of Kavanaugh’s team continue to have confidence that ongoing preparations for the hearing are also going well. Since Ford emerged with her allegation more than a week ago, Kavanaugh has spent several long days on the White House grounds, readying himself for the prospect of a grueling interrogation from Democrats.
Another source involved in the process said the Kavanaugh camp believes that by agreeing to the interview on Monday, Kavanaugh and his wife “more than accomplished what they set out to do,” which the source said included making Kavanaugh and his wife come across as “sincere and sympathetic.”
“Brett did a great job of holding back his contempt for the process, but you could see in his eyes that all of this has been excruciating and exhausting for his whole family,” the source added.
“There comes a point when you can only sit there and take it for so long,” the source said, “and they showed the public they’re real people – not just names – who’ve been dragged through the mud.”
Sen. John Cornyn, R-Texas, praised Kavanaugh’s performance as well.
“Well it’s extremely awkward to be talking about such private matters on TV. I thought he did well and did what he needed to do,” Cornyn said. “He made the point that he’s not going away. He’s not going to let someone falsely smear his reputation and ruin his life.”
Kavanaugh appeared on TV screens around the country, flanked by his wife, Ashley, roughly 24 hours after a second woman publicly accused him of a decades-old act of inappropriate sexual behavior.
Deborah Ramirez, who attended Yale University with Kavanaugh, told the New Yorker that Kavanaugh exposed himself to her without her consent while they were both drinking at a dormitory party.
Kavanaugh has denied all the claims made against him.
Since the emergence of Ramirez, the White House and some Republicans have seized an opportunity to go back on offense in an effort to save their flagging Supreme Court nomination. Because no one has yet corroborated Ramirez, who has admitted to gaps in her memory, some Kavanaugh allies spent Monday lumping her allegation in with Ford’s to argue both are “smears” aimed at derailing Kavanaugh’s confirmation.
Kavanaugh laid out during his interview what his strategy during the hearing will likely include: unequivocal denials of the sexual misconduct allegations based, in part, on his claim that he remained a virgin throughout the time women have said he sexually harassed or assaulted them.
“I did not have sexual intercourse or anything close to sexual intercourse in high school or for many years thereafter,” Kavanaugh told Fox News.
The Supreme Court nominee expressed an eagerness to appear before the committee to dispute the claims against him.
“I want a fair process where I can defend my integrity. I know I’m telling the truth. I know my lifelong record. I’m not going to let false accusations drive me out of this process,” Kavanaugh said. “I have faith in God and I have faith in the fairness of the American people.”
CNN’s Ted Barrett contributed to this report.