WASHINGTON — Judge Brett M. Kavanaugh, the embattled Supreme Court nominee, defended his impartiality and independence on Thursday in an unusually public attempt to assuage concerns about his judicial temperament after his emotional and often viscerally angry testimony last week rebutting allegations of sexual misconduct.
“You can count on me to be the same kind of judge and person I have been for my entire 28-year legal career,” Judge Kavanaugh wrote in an opinion piece published in The Wall Street Journal. He acknowledged that he had regrets about some of the things he said in his testimony last week before the Senate Judiciary Committee, but did not specify what they were.
“I was very emotional last Thursday, more so than I have ever been,” he wrote. “I might have been too emotional at times. I know that my tone was sharp, and I said a few things I should not have said. I hope everyone can understand that I was there as a son, husband and dad.”
The op-ed appeared to be directed at a handful of lawmakers who remained publicly undecided before a vote Friday morning that would end debate over his nomination and set the stage for a final decision on his confirmation.
Republicans had appeared increasingly confident on Thursday that Judge Kavanaugh would be confirmed, though a no vote from three of the four publicly undecided senators — Jeff Flake of Arizona, Susan Collins of Maine, Lisa Murkowski of Alaska and Joe Manchin III of West Virginia — could derail the proceedings.
Before answering questions from lawmakers about the allegations last week, Judge Kavanaugh had denounced the accusations in a prepared statement as “a calculated and orchestrated political hit” intended in part to exact “revenge on behalf of the Clintons.” He also accused Democratic senators of “lying in wait” with the initial allegation, revealing it only when other attempts to block his confirmation failed.
That language, coupled with Judge Kavanaugh’s often combative and bitter demeanor during the hearing, drew scrutiny to the judge’s temperament in the days after the hearing. Earlier on Thursday, former Justice John Paul Stevens told a group of retirees in Florida that he felt Judge Kavanaugh’s performance should disqualify him from the nation’s highest court, and thousands of law professors delivered a letter to senators echoing that sentiment.
Judge Kavanaugh wrote in the opinion piece that his words during the hearing “reflected my overwhelming frustration at being wrongly accused, without corroboration, of horrible conduct completely contrary to my record and character.” He vowed to remain impartial and emphasized his belief “that an independent and impartial judiciary is essential to our constitutional republic.”
The piece was the second time the judge had taken the rare step of publicly speaking out during the nomination process in the weeks since Christine Blasey Ford, a research psychologist, came forward with allegations that he had assaulted her at a high school party more than three decades ago. He first delivered a stoic rebuttal during a prime-time Fox News interview before his second hearing, an appearance that starkly contrasted with the teary, red-faced defiance he voiced before lawmakers last week.
Mr. Trump, who has personally fended off accusations of sexual misconduct with aggressive denials, praised Judge Kavanaugh’s forceful testimony as a “powerful, honest, and riveting” performance that “showed America exactly why I nominated him.”
Peter Baker contributed reporting.