Martha MacCallum interviews Judge Kavanaugh

The Fox News interview with Brett Kavanaugh and his wife Ashley lasted about 20 minutes. Kavanaugh clearly had a few simple messages he wanted to convey and sometimes seemed stuck on those talking points but there were also moments when he appeared on the verge of being overcome with emotion as he denied the accusations.

The interview started with the specific allegations made by Christine Blasey Ford. Kavanaugh said he “may have met her” but added that she wasn’t part of his social circle and does not remember ever being at a party with her.

When it comes to the specific party in question, Kavanaugh was explicit: “This is an allegation about a party in the summer of 1982 at a house near Connecticut Avenue and East-West Highway with five people present. I was never at any such party. The people who were alleged to be present have said they do not remember any such party. Another woman who was present who was Dr. Ford’s lifelong friend has said she doesn’t know me and never remembers being at a party with me at any time.”

Kavanaugh also denied having ever sexually assaulted anyone at any time, which rules out the possibility that this is some kind of Clintonian denial about one specific party. He went on to say he wasn’t questioning whether or not Ford had been assaulted by someone at some time, only that he hadn’t done it.

Next, in response to the allegations made by Deborah Ramirez, Kavanaugh said, “I never did any such thing.” He added that if something like that had happened “it would have been the talk of campus.” He pointed out a couple times that the NY Times had been unable to corroborate Ramirez story and that even she seemed to be uncertain about it when she was calling friends in the last couple weeks.

Next, Kavanaugh was asked about Michael Avenatti’s allegations that he was involved in parties where women were given drugs and alcohol and induced to have sex with a “train” of men, essentially a gang-rape. Kavanaugh called the claim “totally false and outrageous.”

Kavanaugh did admit that there were parties at his high school and that the seniors brought alcohol. “Yes, people might have had too many beers on occasion…I think all of us have probably done things we look back on in high school and regret or cringe a bit, but that’s not what we’re talking about. We’re talking about an allegation of sexual assault. I’ve never sexually assaulted anyone.”

It was around this point that Kavanaugh made his statement about being a virgin through high school and for many years after. He also denied that he had ever become so drunk that he couldn’t remember what he had done.

For her part, Ashley Kavanaugh was asked if she could understand a woman who could only bring forward an allegation years after it happened. Mrs. Kavanaugh said she didn’t “want to go there” but did say she felt sorry for what her family was going through, which was probably a reference to the death threats Ford had reportedly been getting.

Brett Kavanaugh emphasized that he was questioned under oath on Monday and not only denied the allegations but also asked for a hearing to tell his side publicly the very next day. “America is about fairness, I want a fair process where I can defend my integrity and clear my name as quickly as I can in whatever forum the Senate deems appropriate.

Near the end of the interview, MacCallum came back to the question of what was motivating the accusers, even suggesting it could be Roe v Wade. Kavanaugh just repeated “I just want a fair process” several more times, refusing to really engage with the question. But Kavanaugh seemed almost ready to break as he referred to women who had known him since he was 14-years old. He added that he was, “not going anywhere.”

No doubt this is what we’re going to be talking about for the next two days until Ford testifies, so I won’t try to offer a comprehensive take now. But my initial impression is, most importantly, Kavanaugh didn’t back off his earlier denial at all. He is saying this absolutely never happened, nor did anything remotely like it. Also, I think he was working hard not to impugn the motives of anyone from Ford, to Ronan Farrow, to Democrats shepherding these allegations. That occasionally came off as forced (possibly because he wanted to call foul on some people) but in the end I think it was the right call not to get into a mudslinging contest with anyone involved. Finally, if someone was looking for some sign of division between Kavanaugh and his wife, they didn’t get it here. She backed him 100% and refused to even entertain the idea he might have done these things.

The bottom line is that you can’t ever truly prove a negative so there’s nothing Kavanaugh could say that would debunk this beyond all doubt, but he did his best to maintain his firm denial and to point to the lack of corroboration from others about these allegations. He also, at moments, showed a bit of emotion. He didn’t let it carry him away but you could see he feels strongly about this which I think helps demonstrate he’s a real person.

I’m sure there will be all kinds of hot takes floating around tonight and tomorrow, but I think he did well enough to raise the pressure on Ford’s testimony a bit more if that’s possible. Here’s the interview:

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