Schumer: 'There Is No Presumption of Innocence' for Kavanaugh

September 25, 2018

Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D., N.Y.) said on Tuesday there is "no presumption of innocence" for Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh when it comes to sexual misconduct allegations because "this is not a criminal trial."

"There is no presumption of innocence or guilt when you have a nominee before you," Schumer told reporters during a press conference on Capitol Hill.

His remarks contrast those from Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R., Ky.), who said on Tuesday that Kavanaugh deserved the presumption of innocence.

"I think everybody in America understands there's a presumption of innocence. That standard of fairness is applied to every American citizen in almost every situation. I think we ought to go into these hearings with a presumption of innocence, but hear the argument on the other side, the testimony on the other side so the members of the Senate can make a decision here on a very, very significant matter," McConnell said.

Kavanaugh has been accused of sexual misconduct by two women, one who accused the nominee of sexually assaulting her in the early 1980s while they were both in high school and another who says he exposed himself at a party while they were both students at Yale. Kavanaugh and his first accuser, Christine Blasey Ford, who says he groped her at a party 36 years ago, are expected to testify before the Senate Judiciary Committee on Thursday.

"It's not a legal proceeding, it's a fact-finding proceeding," Schumer said.

The minority leader's comments came after Sen. Mazie Hirono (D., Hawaii) made similar remarks about Kavanaugh's presumed innocence or guilt. Hirono told CNN's Jack Tapper that she doubted Kavanaugh's credibility because of his jurisprudence, and she doubled down on those remarks Monday, saying the nominee does not deserve a presumption of innocence.

Schumer, like other Democrats, has called for an FBI investigation into the claims made against Kavanaugh, though Republicans on the Senate Judiciary Committee say the issues is under the committee's purview seeing as the body is called to advise and consent on judicial nominees.

"We do this with every major nominee ... When new information comes up, the FBI comes again and does its background check," Schumer said.

"We ought to get to the bottom and find the facts in the way the FBI has always done," Schumer continued. "This is not a criminal trial, this is to find the facts."

Kavanaugh has denied all allegations of misconduct made against him. President Donald Trump has stood by him nominee, saying Democrats' attempts to use the misconduct allegations to delay the confirmation process are "completely political."