The White House is calling the latest line of attack attempted by opponents of Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh a "shameful" part of a "left-wing partisan smear campaign."
The attack came from Ultraviolet, a liberal group that began circulating a memo calling for an investigation into whether Kavanaugh knew about sexual harassment allegations against a judge who retired in 2017 last year over accusations. Kavanaugh clerked for the judge, Alex Kozinski, 27 years ago in 1990, the year he graduated from Yale Law School, and there is no evidence that he knew anything of the sexual harassment.
The White House says Kavanaugh first heard of allegations against Kozinski last December ahead of his retirement.
"Judge Kavanaugh clerked for Alex Kozinski more than 25 years ago," said Kerri Kupec, an administration spokesman for the confirmation push. "Prior to the public reports late last year, Judge Kavanaugh had never heard any allegations of sexual misconduct or sexual harassment by Judge Kozinski."
Kupec additionally said that Kavanaugh has built a reputation as a judge for treating employees with respect.
"Everyone who knows Judge Kavanaugh knows he believes all people deserve respect, including at the workplace," Kupec said. "Judge Kavanaugh mentors and supports his law clerks—a majority of whom are women—and has always ensured that all of his employees are treated with respect and dignity."
Leslie Fahrenkopf Foley, who worked alongside Kavanaugh in Kozinski's chambers, said there were no signs of sexual harassment.
"It was a completely professional environment and I never saw or experienced any harassment, nor did I ever feel uncomfortable," Foley said. "Brett Kavanaugh is, moreover, a consummate gentleman and I cannot imagine he ever knew about or condoned any workplace misconduct by Judge Kozinski or anyone else."
Those who have worked under Kavanaugh have also come to his defense. Porter Wilkinson, who clerked for Kavanaugh in 2007, said sexual harassment was not tolerated in the workplace.
"As a former law clerk to Judge Kavanaugh, I know—as evidenced by the letter signed by his law clerks—that he treats everyone with respect," Wilkinson said. "He does not tolerate sexual harassment in any workplace."
Susan Engel, who clerked for Kozinski and has known Kavanaugh since 2000 when they worked together in private practice, said she was "shocked" when she learned of the accusations against Kozinski and would be "astonished" if Kavanaugh knew of anything.
"At no time during my clerkship, or in the years since, did I see or hear Judge Kozinski sexually harass anyone," Engel said. "I was shocked by the allegations that surfaced last year. I would be astonished if Brett Kavanaugh had ever heard anything about this."
Engel also praised Kavanaugh for the support he has given to women lawyers.
"Brett is a devoted father to two daughters, someone who has mentored and supported the careers of many women lawyers, and someone who has always treated women with respect," she said.
The Wall Street Journal editorial board laid into the effort to tie Kavanaugh to sexual harassment, which was pushed by former Hillary Clinton spokesman Brian Fallon on CNN earlier this week. It labeled the memo an attempt at "#MeToo guilt by association."
"The Ultraviolet sleaze-slingers have no evidence that Mr. Kavanaugh knew about Judge Kozinski's behavior and no witnesses to anything of the sort," it wrote. "They merely have insinuations that in the age of social media can spread around the world before the truth can even get a hearing."
The editorial board also directed ire at members of the press for treating the memo as news.
"It used to be that the press required at least some evidence to report a story, but now a politically motivated group can write a memo without incriminating facts and get it reported as news," it wrote. "Fair-minded Americans should treat it as the drive-by innuendo it is."
Kupec called the "smear" predictable and indicated the White House expects the attempts to damage Kavanaugh to continue.
"As predictable as it is shameful, the left-wing partisan smear campaign against a distinguished, lifelong public servant has begun," Kupec said.