Allegations of sexual misconduct must be taken seriously, which means both parties must be heard and receive due process, regardless of whether the allegation is made in the context of a criminal complaint or a Senate confirmation.
I went in Thursday’s hearing with an open mind – without prejudging either side – and listened to both Dr. Ford and Judge Kavanaugh testify under oath.
I found Judge Kavanaugh’s testimony and denial of all allegations against him to be emphatic and unequivocal. As a federal judge, he is well aware he made every statement under threat of criminal penalty.
Likewise, I found Dr. Ford’s testimony to be sincere. Some have suggested that Dr. Ford is flat-out lying about being sexually assaulted. I completely reject this notion and strongly condemn the malicious and violent threats that have been made against Dr. Ford and her family.
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In addition to the hearing Thursday, the Senate Judiciary Committee conducted its own exhaustive investigation, which included statements from named witnesses, transcribed interviews from those willing to provide them, and evidence both sides submitted to assist Judiciary members with their advise and consent duties.
I believe Dr. Ford’s claim that she was sexually assaulted by someone, and it is the Senate’s responsibility to look at any evidence available in relation to the nominee. That includes considering the statements of the four witnesses she says were present, who have all denied or disputed Kavanaugh’s presence at the event in question, statements that were provided to the committee under the threat of felony. After listening to Thursday’s testimony, and reviewing all the facts and evidence, I maintain my support for his confirmation.
For Democrats, this was never about supporting a fair process for Dr. Ford or Judge Kavanaugh; it was all about denying him a seat at the Supreme Court in order to fire up their base on the eve of an election. After taking no action for nearly two months, Democrats shamefully violated Dr. Ford’s request for privacy by leaking her letter to the media at the 11th hour and maligned Judge Kavanaugh’s character, proving they could care less about the collateral damage they created in their quest for campaign cash and votes.
The disgraceful behavior of Senate Democrats will be felt long after the current confirmation process. Democrats have outrageously made the claim that there is no longer a presumption of innocence in America. Every Democratic member of the committee called on Kavanaugh’s nomination to be withdrawn before he even had an opportunity to deny the accusations under oath before the American people.
This is a chilling manifestation of partisanship erasing basic expectations of fairness and due process that have been cornerstones of our nation since its founding. This is an embarrassment and we must do better in the future. This cannot become the new normal.
Sen. Thom Tillis (R-NC) is a member of the Senate Judiciary Committee.