GOP Strategist Explains Why She Still Supports Kavanaugh's Nomination
RACHEL MARTIN, HOST:
It was a remarkable scene - Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh seated next to his wife, Ashley, answering questions on Fox News about allegations of sexual assault.
(SOUNDBITE OF TV SHOW, "THE STORY WITH MARTHA MACCALLUM")
BRETT KAVANAUGH: What I know is the truth, and the truth is I've never sexually assaulted anyone in high school or otherwise. I am not questioning and have not questioned that perhaps Dr. Ford at some point in her life was sexually assaulted by someone in some place. But what I know is I've never sexually assaulted anyone in high school or at any time in my life.
MARTHA MACCALLUM: So when she says...
MARTIN: Kavanaugh and his first accuser, Christine Blasey Ford, will both testify separately in front of a congressional committee Thursday. President Trump is standing by his nominee. This is what the president had to say yesterday.
(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)
PRESIDENT DONALD TRUMP: The chance that this could be one of the single most unfair, unjust things to happen to a candidate for anything - but I am with Judge Kavanaugh, and I look forward to a vote.
MARTIN: Joining us this morning - Sara Fagen. She is a Republican political strategist and a longtime friend of Brett Kavanaugh who worked with him in the White House under President George W. Bush. Sara, thanks for being on the show this morning.
SARA FAGEN: Good morning.
MARTIN: In that interview with Fox's Martha MacCallum, Brett Kavanaugh said he was seeking a fair process. He said that more than a dozen times, repeated that phrase over and over - very disciplined about sticking to what appeared to be a script on that point. Did he sound to you as though he was parsing his words carefully?
FAGEN: No, not really. I mean, I think, look; if you're in his shoes - and I know him very well. I've known him professionally and socially. And he - nothing about what is being described about his conduct comports with the person I know. And so if you're a quiet judicial person who spent your life largely in legal circles and all of a sudden out of the blue people are making these claims against you, you can imagine how you wouldn't think it was a fair process. And particularly when you think about the allegation that Dr. Ford has made where she has - you know, where this letter was leaked after the FBI investigation, after, you know, he answered 1,300 questions by the committee and sat for over 30 hours of questioning, yeah, I can see how he does not think that this has been a fair process.
MARTIN: Let me ask you - Kavanaugh was asked some uncomfortable questions in this interview about his history with heavy drinking. He also volunteered very private information about his own sexual history, saying he never had sex in high school, even though that is irrelevant to the allegation that's made against him. Do you think he successfully defended himself against these allegations last night?
FAGEN: Yeah, I do. I mean, look; again, you know, there has become this presumption of guilt before there's been any real evidence presented - any evidence. In fact, the people - other folks who were supposed to be able to corroborate these - this allegation - we're talking about the one by Dr. Ford - is they've all come and said either weren't there, didn't see it, didn't - don't know him, never been in a party with him, don't remember it, don't have any recollection.
MARTIN: Although she has her own witnesses and character witnesses who say that she is telling the truth and that this information and this incident had been relayed to them.
FAGEN: She has a therapist who has notes that do not - are not consistent with what Dr. Ford has said. She does not have actually one other person who's come forward and said that they have a recollection of this being - that this happened. And she has character witnesses. Of course, we can all find people who say we're good people.
MARTIN: Although that's exactly what you are doing for Brett Kavanaugh. You organized a group of women and held a press conference, signed a letter saying I stand with Brett. But you weren't at that particular party in the 1980s that Christine Blasey Ford was talking about either.
FAGEN: So I did help organize a group of women, and I think it's important to talk about that. It's not - it wasn't one person or three people who came up and stood up for Brett. It was 85 women from every aspect of his life. And so I think when you get into these situations where, you know, that are 35 years ago and people say one thing that doesn't comport with the way a person has conducted his life over the course of his life, what you have to go on unless someone presents evidence, which has yet to occur, what you have to go on is a character witness. And young women who've worked for Brett, women who went to law school with him, women who were lawyers with him in Washington, D.C., women who worked with him in the White House, all say the same thing.
MARTIN: Although you know in the era of #MeToo, many of us have had the experience of finding out that a man we've known for a very long time, someone we have admired, turns out to have a side that we knew nothing about. Is it possible that you don't know?
FAGEN: I don't believe it's possible that I don't know because I believe I know Brett very well. And we also all know men in our social and professional circles sometimes who we think, well, though, they wouldn't do that or no, that's not - and then you hear something, you think, well, maybe, you know, I guess I can kind of see that. He's a little angry. He's a little - that is just not the case here. And that's, I think, why people who know Brett find this so offensive and shocking. And, you know, Brett's had to answer a lot of personal questions that he - you know, because of this allegation is now going to have to delve into his very personal details, as you mentioned. That's part of the process. He's going to have to do that. But, you know, at the end of the day, you should not be able to do a character assassination on somebody. And what's becoming...
MARTIN: Although this is not a - it's not a criminal proceeding. I'm sorry to interrupt. It's not a criminal proceeding. It is a job interview. Others have pointed out that the burden of proof isn't on Christine Blasey Ford to prove that this happened. It's on Kavanaugh to prove that he's a good nominee and there are no red flags against him.
FAGEN: And he, I think, through the course of his life has proven he's a good nominee. And the people who have known and worked with him, including people in high school and people who went to law school with him, say does not comport with the Brett Kavanaugh we knew at this period of our life. And look; the stakes on the Supreme Court, you know, we should point out, are very high. And I understand - we all understand that. But they're so high that it's also possible that there are people with political agendas. So I don't know how you could describe it as anything other than character assassination.
MARTIN: Sara Fagen - friend, former colleague of Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh - thanks so much for your time. We appreciate it.
FAGEN: Thank you. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.