U.S. Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh arrives ahead of the State of the Union address in the chamber of the U.S. House of Representatives at the U.S. Capitol Building on February 5, 2019 in Washington, DC. President Trump’s second State of the Union address was postponed one week due to the partial government shutdown. Zach Gibson/Getty Images
President Donald Trump on Monday advised Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh to sue women who have accused him of sexual assault, a move which would trigger an investigation and public review of the evidence against him.
Amid the confirmation hearings for Supreme Court nominee Amy Coney Barrett, Trump offered the advice in response to a tweet from the House Judiciary Committee Republicans urging Americans to “remember what they did to Brett Kavanaugh. We don’t owe the Democrats anything.”
“He should sue the women, and all of those who illegally worked with them, for false and disgusting accusations!!!” Trump tweeted, alleging a crime without providing specific evidence.
Two hours after dragging the Kavanaugh accusations back into the limelight, Trump professed his admiration for former Fox News CEO Roger Ailes, who resigned from the network in disgrace after multiple women accused him of sexual harassment and sustaining a toxic work culture at the right-leaning network for decades.
Kavanaugh’s 2018 confirmation hearings became a political flashpoint after Dr. Christine Blasey Ford accused him of pinning her to a bed, groping her and trying to take off her clothes at a high school house party. Ford characterized the incident as “attempted rape.”
Not long after she came forward, Ford was joined by two other women: Deborah Ramirez, who accused Kavanaugh of exposing himself to her at a dorm party while the two were freshmen at Yale; and Julie Swetnick, who claimed that Kavanaugh had been present at high school parties where gang rapes occurred.
“I have a firm recollection of seeing boys lined up outside rooms at many of these parties waiting for their ‘turn’ with a girl inside the room,” Swetnick said in an affidavit. “These boys included Mark Judge and Brett Kavanaugh.”
Kavanaugh categorically denied all of the allegations, and his confirmation hearings played out against the backdrop of the national #MeToo reckoning. Following the contentious hearings and a brief FBI inquiry into the claims, Kavanaugh was confirmed to the high court in October 2018.
It is highly unlikely that Kavanaugh will sue. Legal experts point out that a suit would trigger “discovery,” a portion of the trial process where each party may bring their own evidence to the table.
Attorney Melissa Schwartz, who managed public relations for Ford during the Kavanaugh hearings, pointed out what such a move could mean for Kavanaugh.
“Sue the women…like the multiple credible women who came forward? And those of us who were proud to serve them pro bono?” she tweeted. “That means ACTUALLY investigating their claims and the dozens of witnesses ignored by the Committee.”
Whereas elected GOP officials controlled the scope of confirmation hearings on Capitol Hill, a full civil trial with evidence and witnesses would be a different matter. Kavanaugh would have to again explain his denials under oath, this time in front of an impartial judge.
A trial would also mean the world would again hear from Ford — whom even Trump found a credible witness — as well as Ramirez, who reportedly was denied the opportunity to provide evidence during Kavanaugh’s confirmation hearings. Trump previously tweeted that Kavanaugh should sue in response to those reports, which surfaced last year.
“Brett Kavanaugh should start suing people for libel, or the Justice Department should come to his rescue. The lies being told about him are unbelievable. False Accusations without recrimination. When does it stop? They are trying to influence his opinions. Can’t let that happen!”
Trump has been accused of sexual assault by more than two dozen women. He is currently fighting one woman’s request in court for a DNA sample to support her allegation of rape.
Trump’s current nominee, Amy Coney Barrett, belongs to an obscure ultra-conservative Christian sect called People of Praise. Former members say the group teaches wives to obey their husbands at all times — and provide sex on demand.