President Donald Trump on Monday claimed Brett Kavanaugh’s Supreme Court nomination was “caught up in a hoax set up by the Democrats.”
“The things they said about him, I don’t even think he ever heard of the words. It was all made up. It was fabricated and it’s a disgrace and I think it’s gonna really show you something come November 6th,” Trump said as he left the White House for an event in Orlando.
When Trump hosted Kavanaugh and his family at a ceremonial swearing-in at the White House on Monday night, he apologized to the newly minted justice for the difficult confirmation process.
“On behalf of our nation, I want to apologize to Brett and the entire Kavanaugh family for the terrible pain and suffering you have been forced to endure,” the President said. “Those who step 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.
“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, sir, under historic scrutiny were proven innocent. Thank you.”
Kavanaugh won Senate confirmation over the weekend, earning 50 “yes” votes – the fewest ever for any Supreme Court justice in the modern era.
He was accused of sexual assault and misconduct in the weeks before senators took their votes. He denied all the allegations.
Trump had previously been conciliatory toward Christine Blasey Ford, who accused Kavanaugh of sexual assault, calling her a “good witness” and saying he respected her position very much.
“With all of that you cannot say that we’ve done anything but be respectful, and I do. I respect her position very much. I respect her position very much,” Trump had said to reporters.
But Monday, Trump said the Democrats “tortured” Kavanaugh and his family over the accusations.
“I thought that the way they conducted themselves, the way they dealt with a high-level, brilliant – going to be a great justice of the Supreme Court – the way they really tortured him and his family I thought it was disgrace. I thought it was one of the most disgraceful performances I’ve ever seen,” Trump said Monday morning.
Monday afternoon, during an address at a law enforcement conference, Trump blamed “evil” people for putting Kavanaugh in a “disgraceful situation” during his confirmation process.
“He’s a great person and it was very, very unfair what happened to him. False charges, false accusations, horrible statements that were totally untrue that he knew nothing about,” Trump said. “It was a disgraceful situation, brought about by people that are evil and he toughed it out.”
The President lauded Kavanaugh, saying he “will be a faithful defender of the rule of law.”
Trump had previously mocked Ford’s testimony about the alleged assault, and Monday’s comments continued the pattern of disbelieving her.
During the 2016 presidential campaign, at least 13 women accused Trump of misbehavior ranging from sexual harassment to sexual assault. They came forward in the wake of a 2005 “Access Hollywood” tape that was released in October 2016 in which he is caught saying on a hot mic: “And when you’re a star, they let you do it. You can do anything. … Grab them by the p***y. You can do anything.”
The White House – through press secretary Sarah Sanders and others – has dismissed all the allegations against him as old news that had been litigated during the campaign.
The President has also voiced suspicion about the year-old #MeToo movement, complaining that allegations made decades later can ruin a man’s life. He has questioned why women wait so long to come forward if they are telling the truth. Last week, he expressed concern for men in this moment.
“It is a very scary time for young men in America, where you can be guilty of something you may not be guilty of,” Trump told reporters. “This is a very, very – this is a very difficult time. What’s happening here has much more to do than even the appointment of a Supreme Court justice.”
CNN’s Maegan Vazquez and Jeremy Diamond contributed to this report.
This story has been updated.