International desk, October 09: President Donald Trump has apologised to his new Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh for what he described as a “campaign of lies” during the confirmation hearings.He was referring to the acrimonious debate over Mr Kavanaugh’s nomination, after sexual assault allegations were made against him.
Mr Kavanaugh said he was not bitter despite the “contentious” confirmation.
He has denied the claims made by several women.
The judge was confirmed by the Senate on Saturday, in a 50-48 vote that largely followed party lines.
It is seen as a major victory for President Trump, tilting the balance in the nation’s highest court in favour of conservatives for years to come.
One of the women accusing the judge, Prof Christine Blasey Ford, said Mr Kavanaugh sexually assaulted her at a house party in 1982 when they were high school students.
She provided testimony to the Senate Judiciary Committee and Mr Trump initially called her a “compelling” witness – but he later questioned her credibility and mocked her at a rally.
As the White House ceremony got under way on Monday, Mr Trump said: “On behalf of our nation, I want to apologise to Brett and the entire Kavanaugh family for the terrible pain and suffering you have been forced to endure.”
And he decried a “campaign of political and personal destruction based on lies and deception”, adding that “under historic scrutiny”, he had been “proven innocent”.
Last week, the FBI completed a report on sexual misconduct allegations against Mr Kavanaugh – but the findings have not been released to the public.
Mr Trump says Democrats will lose in the 6 November congressional elections, which will shape the remainder of his presidency.
The 53-year-old justice told the White House gathering that he would not let the “bitter” confirmation process affect his work on the highest court in the land.
“The Senate confirmation process was contentious and emotional,” Justice Kavanaugh said.
“That process is over. My focus now is to be the best justice I can be,” he added.
Without mentioning the sexual assault allegations, he touted his record of promoting women – and the fact he has become the first justice to have an all-female staff.
He will take his seat on Tuesday – on the far right of the bench, next to Justice Elena Kagan – hearing immigration and other cases.