Brett Kavanaugh, President Donald Trump’s Supreme Court nominee, denied any knowledge on Wednesday of alleged repeated sexual misconduct by a former judge with whom he maintained a close professional relationship.
Kavanaugh once clerked for Alex Kozinski, a former judge on the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals who retired in December amid a flurry of serious sexual misconduct complaints from women who worked with him over several decades. Kavanaugh also worked with Kozinski to vet clerks for Justice Anthony Kennedy, whose seat Kavanaugh is seeking to fill. That relationship came up on the second day of his Senate confirmation hearing, raised not by Democrats, but by Sen. Orrin Hatch (R-Utah).
Hatch suggested that Kavanaugh was being smeared with guilt by association for his long relationship with Kozinski. He asked Kavanaugh whether he was on the “gag list,” an email list to which Kozinski circulated raunchy jokes. The nominee said he didn’t think that he was, and he denied that he knew about the conduct leading to Kozinski’s retirement last year. He said that when he first heard about it from news reports, “It was a gut punch.” Kavanaugh added, “No woman should be subjected to sexual harassment in the workplace, especially in the judiciary.” He praised Chief Justice John Roberts’s task force looking at workplace conduct issues in the judiciary. He also praised the move by Merrick Garland, the chief judge of the DC Circuit Court of Appeals, where Kavanaugh currently serves, to implement better procedures on his own court for reporting sexual harassment complaints.
Watch the entire exchange here:
Listen to reporter Stephanie Mencimer discuss the chaos surrounding Kavanaugh’s confirmation hearing in this week’s episode of the Mother Jones Podcast: