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At White House ceremony, Trump says Kavanaugh was ‘proven innocent’

After a bruising confirmation battle, partisan tension remains the order of the day in Washington.

With a rebuke that is sure to be reprised ahead of November’s midterm elections, President Trump once again scolded Senate Democrats as he presided over a ceremonial swearing of in Brett Kavanaugh as the newest justice of the United States Supreme Court in the East Room of the White House on Monday. Kavanaugh’s actual swearing in was on Saturday night, shortly after he was confirmed by the Senate.

“I would like to begin tonight’s proceedings differently perhaps than any other event of such magnitude,” Trump began. “On behalf of our nation, I would like to apologize to Brett and and the entire Kavanaugh family for the terrible pain and suffering you have been forced to endure. Those who step forward to serve our country deserve a fair and dignified evaluation, not a campaign of political and personal destruction based on lies and destruction. What happened to the Kavanaugh family violates every notion of fairness, decency, and due process. Our country a man or a woman must always be presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty. And with that I must state that you, sir, under historic scrutiny were proven innocent.”

In fact, an investigation like that performed by the FBI last week — lasting just five days and involving nine interviews — did not prove innocence. The FBI simply failed to find corroboration for the allegations against Kavanaugh.

President Trump and new Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh at Monday’s ceremony. (Photo: Susan Walsh/AP)

Christine Blasey Ford’s testimony before the Senate Judiciary Committee divided the nation. She and two other women accused Kavanaugh of sexual assault, but the president avoided mentioning their names and accusations during Monday’s ceremony.

All of the Democrats on the Judiciary Committee praised Ford for offering her account of Kavanaugh’s alleged sexual assault, and many Senate Republicans said they found her testimony believable. With the fate of his nominee still uncertain, the president even called Ford a “very credible witness.”

Brett Kavanaugh is ceremonially sworn in on Monday by retired Justice Anthony Kennedy, with Kavanaugh’s wife and daughters and President Trump looking on. (AP Photo/Susan Walsh)

After being sworn in by Justice Anthony Kennedy, the man whose seat on the court he will now occupy, Kavanaugh veered away from the sharp partisan tone he employed when testifying before the Judiciary Committee. In a combative prepared statement on Sept. 27, Kavanaugh lashed out at Democrats for what he called a “calculated and orchestrated political hit.” On Monday, however, he cited his support for “the advancement of women” and announced that he had hired four female law clerks, calling it “a first in the history of the Supreme Court.”

“The Senate confirmation process was contentious and emotional,” Kavanaugh said. “That process is over. My focus now is to be the best justice I can be. I take this office with gratitude and no bitterness. On the Supreme Court, I will seek to be a force for stability and unity. My goal is to be a great justice for all Americans.”

As he did in a striking op-ed published in the Wall Street Journal last week, Kavanaugh portrayed himself as a judge who would not harbor resentment of the process he had just endured.

“I was not appointed to serve one party or one interest, but to serve one nation,” Kavanaugh said.

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