U.S. Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh was sworn in again, for the cameras this time, at a White House ceremony this evening, but not before U.S. President Donald Trump slammed the judge’s opponents for a “campaign of personal destruction.”
In a ceremony that could have been a unifying moment for the nation, Trump instead delivered remarks that even he acknowledged began “differently than perhaps any other event of such magnitude.”
“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,” Trump said, addressing the bitter partisan fight over Kavanaugh’s nomination that became a firestorm after the emergence of sexual misconduct allegations, which Kavanaugh emphatically denied.
With all the sitting justices in attendance, along with Kavanaugh’s family and top officials, Trump said Kavanaugh had been the victim of a “campaign of political and personal destruction based on lies and deception.”
Kavanaugh officially became a member of the high court Saturday and has already been at work preparing for his first day on the bench Tuesday.
In his own remarks, Kavanaugh, who has faced criticism that he appeared too politicized in his Senate testimony, tried to assure the American public that he would approach the job fairly. He said the high court “is not a partisan or political institution” and assured he took the job with “no bitterness.”
“The Senate confirmation process was contentious and emotional. That process is over. My focus now is to be the best justice I can be,” he said.
It was the end of a nomination process that sparked mass protests, an FBI investigation and a national reckoning over power, gender, sexual assault and the line between violence and adolescent transgression. And it comes less than a month before pivotal midterm elections that will determine which party controls Congress.
Ceremonial swearing-ins are unusual for new justices. Only Samuel Alito and Stephen Breyer participated in White House events after they had been sworn in and begun work as justices, according to the court’s records on the current crop of justices.
Trump has now put his stamp on the court with his second justice in as many years. Yet Kavanaugh is joining under a cloud.
Accusations from several women remain under scrutiny, and House Democrats have pledged further investigation if they win the majority in November. Outside groups are culling an unusually long paper trail from his previous government and political work, with the National Archives and Records Administration expected to release a cache of millions of documents this month.