Trump, often criticised for rubbing salt in national wounds rather than healing them, continued: “What happened to the Kavanaugh family violates every notion of fairness, decency and due process. Our country, a man or woman must always be presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty.”
Clarence Thomas, who was confirmed to the court in 1991 despite sexual harassment allegations by Anita Hill, joined applause in the room. Sitting beside him, Ruth Bader Ginsburg, a liberal justice, did not. All eight sitting supreme court justices were present.
The president added: “And with that, I must state that you, sir, under historic scrutiny, were proven innocent. Thank you. You were.” He turned to shake the hand of Kavanaugh, who said, “Thank you,” as the room erupted in applause again.
The judge was found neither guilty nor innocent of allegations brought by research psychologist Dr Christine Blasey Ford that, when he was 17 and she 15 in the 1980s, Kavanaugh pinned her to a bed, groped her and tried to remove her clothes while putting his hand over her mouth to stop her screams.