(CNSNews.com) – Overseeing the swearing-in of U.S. Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh on Monday evening, President Trump apologized “on behalf of our nation” to him and his family for the ordeal they had gone through during the confirmation process.
“I would like to begin tonight’s proceedings differently than perhaps any other event of such magnitude,” Trump said at the start of a solemn but also celebratory ceremony in the East Room of the White House.
“On behalf of our nation, I want to apologize to Brett and the entire Kavanaugh family for the terrible pain and suffering you have been forced to endure,” he said. “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 deception.”
“What happened to the Kavanaugh family violates every notion of fairness, decency, and due process,” the president continued. “In 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.”
The U.S. Senate confirmed Kavanaugh in a 50-48 vote Saturday, after a drawn-out process marred by allegations of a sexual assault 36 years ago, at a time he and his accuser were in high school. He strongly denied that accusation, and others that emerged during the ugly partisan battle.
Trump singled out for thanks Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell – who won cheers and a standing ovation, to which Trump quipped “I think that’s the biggest hand he’s ever received” – Senate Judiciary Committee chairman Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa), and the other ten Republicans on the committee by name.
He also thanked Sen. Rob Portman (R-Ohio) – a longtime Kavanaugh friend – and Sen. Susan Collins (R-Maine), “for her brave and eloquent speech, and her declaration that, ‘when passions are most inflamed, fairness is most in jeopardy.’ How true, how true.”
Watched by an audience including every sitting Supreme Court justice, Trump stood behind Kavanaugh’s wife Ashley and daughters Liza and Margaret as Kavanaugh, 53, was sworn in by retired Justice Anthony Kennedy, 82, whose seat he is taking.
Trump said it was the first time a Supreme Court justice has sworn in a former clerk, to take his or her seat – “a beautiful moment which reminds us that freedom is a tradition passed down from generation to generation.”
In his remarks, Kavanaugh signaled he wanted to put the acrimony of the confirmation process behind him.
“The Senate confirmation process was contentious and emotional. That process is over,” he said. “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,” Kavanaugh said. “My goal is to be a great justice, for all Americans, and for all of America.”
He said the confirmation process, while it had tested him, had not changed him – as a judge, or in his approach to life.
“My approach to judging remains the same. A good judge must be an umpire, a neutral and impartial decider who favors no litigant or policy,” he said.
“In the wake of the Senate confirmation process my approach to life also remains the same. I will continue to heed the message of Matthew 25. I will continue to volunteer to serve the least fortunate among us. I will continue to coach, teach, and tutor. I will continue to strive to be a good friend, colleague, husband, and dad.”
“As in the past, our nation today faces challenges and divisions,” Kavanaugh said. “But I am an optimist. I live on the sunrise side of the mountain. I see the day that is coming, not the day that is gone. I am optimistic about the future of America and the future of our independent judiciary, the crown jewel of our constitutional republic.”