Sen. Rob Portman doubles down on support for Brett Kavanaugh’s nomination

October 3, 2018 GMT

Sen. Rob Portman doubles down on support for Brett Kavanaugh’s nomination

WASHINGTON, D.C. - Ohio GOP Sen. Rob Portman on Tuesday defended his longtime friend Brett Kavanaugh’s conduct before the House Judiciary Committee, saying that his harsh replies to questions from Democrats last week showed “understandable” anger at being “unjustly accused of horrendous behavior.”

“I think he was upset,” Portman said, when asked whether Kavanaugh’s Thursday performance displayed the calm temperament expected of a Supreme Court justice. “He was pretty aggressive. I think that’s understandable given the accusations that he has faced.”

The fate of Kavanaugh’s nomination has been in question after women accused him of inappropriate drunken sexual behavior in his youth, and several of Kavanaugh’s Yale University classmates claimed his Judiciary Committee testimony didn’t accurately reflect his excessive college drinking.

Flake condemns Kavanaugh’s “sharp and partisan” testimony: “We can’t have this on the Court” https://t.co/KDVLDir4vm pic.twitter.com/3Irc1kzwnM— The Hill (@thehill) October 2, 2018


Portman said he didn’t understand the concerns about Kavanaugh’s honesty about drinking.

“I think he was very honest about that,” said Portman, who introduced Kavanaugh at his initial hearing before the Judiciary Committee. “There was no question he drank beer with others around him. I don’t get that one. Maybe I wasn’t listening to the same hearing.”

Portman, who worked at the White House with Kavanaugh during the administration of President George W. Bush, also said Kavanaugh was right to apologize to Minnesota Democratic Sen. Amy Klobuchar, who asked him whether he ever drank so much he blacked out. Kavanaugh responded by asking Klobuchar if she ever had done that.

 “I think he needed to apologize and he did,” said Portman. “That was inappropriate. Sen. Klobuchar was appropriately asking him questions. That’s what senators do. Again, he was upset and he felt as though he was being unjustly accused of very terrible things.”

Portman said he has heard nothing negative about Kavanaugh’s behavior from people who have known him in his professional life.

“He is one of the people I met in public service who seem to have respect from people across the board,” said Portman.

Portman doubled down on his support for Kavanaugh and said that whether he’s confirmed will come down to how four or five other Senators vote. He said he supports the FBI investigation into Kavanaugh’s behavior, and is eager to see the report, noting that other people who accuser Christine Blasey Ford said attended a party where Kavanaugh allegedly assaulted her said they didn’t recall the event.

“I take allegations of sexual assault seriously,” said Portman. “I believe Dr. Ford deserved the opportunity to be heard. I also believe Judge Kavanaugh deserved the opportunity to vent and be heard.”

Portman said he talked to Kavanaugh once since the hearing.

“He is eager to have this process end,” said Portman. “He is fine answering any questions.”