Donald Trump apologises to Brett Kavanaugh during swear-in ceremony

Donald Trump apologises to Brett Kavanaugh during swear-in ceremony

Tuesday, October 9, 2018

US Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh has been sworn in at a White House ceremony, but not before President Donald Trump criticised Mr Kavanaugh’s opponents for a “campaign of personal destruction”.

During the ceremony, Mr Trump delivered remarks that even he acknowledged began "differently than perhaps any other event of such magnitude".

"On behalf of our nation, I want to apologise to Brett and the entire Kavanaugh family for the terrible pain and suffering you have been forced to endure," Mr Trump said, addressing the bitter partisan fight over Mr 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 Mr Kavanaugh's family and top admiration officials, Mr Trump said Mr Kavanaugh had been the victim of a "campaign of political and personal destruction based on lies and deception".

But, he told the new justice, "You, sir, under historic scrutiny, were proven innocent."


'No bitterness'

Brett Kavanaugh during Senate hearing at Capitol Hill, Washington D.C.

Mr Kavanaugh officially became a member of the high court on Saturday and has already been at work preparing for his first day on the bench on Tuesday.

In his own remarks, Mr Kavanaugh, who has faced criticism that he appeared too politicised 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 deeply contentious nomination process that sparked mass protests, an FBI investigation 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.


'That is who I am' 

Brett Kavanaugh and retired Associate Justice Anthony Kennedy listen to US president Donald Trump at swear-in ceremony​​​​​​​

Mr Kavanaugh and his law clerks already have been at the Supreme Court preparing for his first day on the bench on Tuesday, when the justices will hear arguments in two cases about longer prison terms for repeat offenders.

The new justice's four clerks all are women, the first time that has happened.

The clerks are Kim Jackson, who previously worked for Mr Kavanaugh on the federal appeals court in Washington, Shannon Grammel, Megan Lacy and Sara Nommensen.

The latter three all worked for other Republican-nominated judges.

Ms Lacy had been working at the White House in support of Mr Kavanaugh's nomination.

In his Senate testimony last month, in which he denied allegations that he sexually assaulted a woman in high school and accused Democrats of orchestrating a partisan campaign against him, Mr Kavanaugh promised: "I'll be the first justice in the history of the Supreme Court to have a group of all-women law clerks. That is who I am."