Sen. Mazie Hirono (D-Hawaii) on Wednesday insinuated — without offering a shred of evidence — that Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh must have covered up for a fellow federal judge’s sexual harassment.
Hirono (pictured above left) questioned Kavanaugh (pictured above right) on day two of his confirmation hearing before the Senate Judiciary Committee.
She used her time trying to tie the appeals court judge to former Judge Alex Kozinski, who retired at the end of last year amid allegations of improper sexual conduct and abusive practices toward law clerks.
Kavanaugh, who had clerked for Kozinski at the beginning of his legal career in the early 1990s, testified that he did not know about any alleged misconduct by his former boss.
“To be clear, while this behavior by Judge Kozinski was going on for 30 years — it was an open secret — you saw nothing, you heard nothing, and you obviously said nothing,” Hirono said.
Kavanaugh said he would have taken action if he had witnessed any improper behavior.
“Had I heard those allegations, Senator, I would have done three things immediately,” he said. “I would have called Judge Tom Griffith, who’s on our court, who’s on the codes of conduct committee for the federal judiciary, appointed by Chief Justice [John] Roberts. I would have called Chief Judge [Merrick] Garland, who’s chair of the executive committee. I would have called Jim Duff, who’s head of the administrative office of the U.S. courts.”
Kavanaugh added that he would have contacted Roberts directly if he was not satisfied with the response.
Carrie Severino, chief counsel and policy director of the pro-Kavanaugh Judicial Crisis Network, blasted Hirono and noted that the senator last year dismissed sexual harassment allegations against then-Sen. Al Franken (D-Minn.) as a distraction. Severino told LifeZette that all of the other clerks working for Kozinski during Kavanaugh’s tenure have said they were unaware of improper conduct.
“That was ridiculous and shameful,” she said. “It’s totally unfair … It’s really just guilt by association.”
But Hirono was not finished with Kavanaugh. She noted that Kozinski introduced Kavanaugh at the nominee’s 2006 hearing when he was up for a spot on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit. Aides displayed a poster board with a photo of the two men together at another event.
“You joined him for panels at the Federalist Society, where you patted him on the shoulder and said, ‘I learned from the master about hiring clerks,’” the senator said.
Hirono referenced the #MeToo movement.
“And yet, someone that you’ve been close to, that you’ve clerked — and I could go through the various encounters, more than encounters, that you had with Judge Kozinski,” she said. “And yet, you heard nothing, you saw nothing, and obviously you did not say anything.”
Kavanaugh previously has testified about his efforts to hire and promote women. A majority of his law clerks have been women, and he has hired the most female clerks of any judge on his court, according to previous testimony. Many of those women went on to clerk at the Supreme Court and have had prominent legal careers.
Kavanaugh did not respond with anger or indignation, however.
“I agree with you, Senator. I agree completely,” he said. “There needs to be better reporting mechanisms. Women who are the victims of sexual harassment need to know who they can call, when they can call.”
In response to another question from Hirono, Kavanaugh denied knowing about domestic violence allegations against Rob Porter, whom the Hawaii senator said the judge had recommended for a job at the White House.
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