Seventy-five women with long-standing associations with Judge Brett Kavanaugh came forward on Friday to voice their defense of the embattled Supreme Court nominee. Kavanaugh is accused of committing sexual assault while in high school 36 years ago.
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Sarah Fagen, a former colleague of Kavanaugh's from the George W. Bush administration, asserted the women felt compelled to stand with the nominee because the allegation presented does not fit with what they've come to know about his conscience and character.
"Women from every phase of Judge Kavanaugh’s life, those who know him best, have stepped forward to say that the allegation being leveled against him is false and we are proud to stand with Brett," Fagen said.
In her remarks, Fagen said her friendship with the nominee was forged in the early days of the Bush administration when Kavanaugh went out of his way to ensure his colleagues were safe and coping well under pressure in the aftermath of the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks.
"The days after 9/11 in the White House were long and stressful, but Brett took the time to follow up and make sure I was doing okay," Fagen said. "For me running into Brett Kavanaugh was a gift."
Maura Fitzgerald, a Kavanaugh friend who also briefly dated the nominee during their collegiate years, said her support had nothing to do with politics and everything to do with the individual.
"I want to make something clear, very, very clear," Fitzgerald said. "For me, this is not political, my being here has nothing to do with politics. I am here because I felt it important to share my perspective on Brett’s character and to talk about a man that I have known for over 35 years."
Fitzgerald has emerged as one of Kavanaugh's fiercest defenders, appearing on television shortly after the allegation first emerged to attest to the nominee's good standing as a friend and family man.
In July, Kavanaugh, a widely respected jurist on the D.C. Circuit of the U.S. Court of Appeals, was nominated by President Donald Trump to the Supreme Court vacancy left by the retirement of former Justice Anthony Kennedy.
The nomination appeared to be headed smoothly for confirmation until last week when Democratic senator Dianne Feinstein (Calif.) referred a letter to federal investigators from Dr. Christine Blasey Ford, a Palo Alto University professor, accusing Kavanaugh of sexual assault. Feinstein had received the letter earlier in the summer but maintains she held on disclosing it until after the Senate Judiciary Committee commenced confirmation hearings in an effort to comply with Ford's request for confidentiality.
In her letter, Ford alleges Kavanaugh attacked her at a party in the 1980s while both were attending prestigious private high schools in Bethesda, Maryland. According to Ford's recollection of the event, Kavanaugh pinned her down on a bed, groped her, and attempted to remove her clothing while heavily inebriated. Ford alleges the assault occurred while another individual, whom she has identified as Mark Judge, was in the room and only ended when Judge jumped on them, allowing her an opportunity to escape.
Kavanaugh has "categorically" denied Ford's allegation, claiming he was not at the party described. He has further offered to testify in front of Congress. The nominee also has wide backing from Republicans, with Senate Judiciary chairman Chuck Grassley, the White House, and former President George W. Bush all reaffirming their commitment to his confirmation.
Ford, on the other hand, has received support from Democrats, many of whom were already opposed to Kavanaugh's ascension to the nation's highest court. Initially, Ford refused to testify until the FBI, which conducts background checks on presidential nominees to evaluate potential threats to national security, investigated the manner.
Several prominent Democrats echoed Ford's calls for the FBI to intercede before moving forward. On Monday, the Department of Justice weighed in on the matter, asserting Ford's allegation as it stands does "not involve any potential federal crime" warranting the FBI's involvement.
Currently, Ford is still negotiating with Chairman Grassley about testifying in front of the Judiciary Committee sometime next week.
Furthermore, since the allegation first came to light, seeds of doubt have been sown as to whether Ford's reminiscence accurately presents what she alleges to have occurred.
Judge, for his part, told USA Today he had no recollection of the incident in question taking place and had "no information to offer" the Judiciary Committee on the matter. Another of the individuals that Ford identified as being in attendance at the party where the alleged assault took place, Kavanaugh's classmate Patrick Smyth, has denied ever participating in such an event as characterized.
On Friday, the women speaking in defense of the nominee elaborated they were not trying to "impugn Ford's character or motives," but rather to voice support for a man they know and respect.
Laura Cox Kaplan, a longtime friend and colleague of Kavanaugh, urged for greater consideration to be made for the nominee's family, who while not in public life were still dealing with the ramifications of the allegation.
"And while Brett is the person who has been nominated, his family is going through this process too," said Kaplan. "I am heartbroken over the way that this precious family has been treated. Brett is an extraordinary person, but he’s also a real person."
"It would have been a lot easier to not come here today, but it wouldn’t have been right and it wouldn't have been what Brett would have done," Kaplan added. "He sets a high bar as a friend and as an example for others."