Carrie Severino, chief counsel and policy director of the Judicial Crisis Network, would not definitively state Wednesday that Judge Brett Kavanaugh should still be confirmed as a Supreme Court associate justice, saying allegations of misconduct should be further examined.
“I think we have to look into this further,” Severino said when asked by MSNBC’s Craig Melvin whether Kavanaugh should still be confirmed. “From what we know so far, we don’t have corroboration yet. If the Senate votes on this soon, I think they would have to go on what they know so far. I know the Senate Judiciary Committee is going to look into this before they would move forward to a vote.”
Severino clarified her remarks in a tweet Wednesday afternoon, saying her group still fully supports Kavanaugh.
The Judicial Crisis Network sits at the center of a network of groups and conservative legal activists behind the selection of judges by President Donald Trump. JCN was co-founded by Leonard Leo, the Federalist Society executive who pushed Kavanaugh’s nomination on Trump, as the society’s political arm to publicly advocate for judicial nominees.
The role of JCN is to publicly support those nominees with seven-figure television advertising buys and extensive advocacy on television programs, such as the one Severino, a former clerk to Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas, appeared on.
Severino’s public comments on Kavanaugh are significant ― it’s her job to promote Kavanaugh’s confirmation, and she’s previously been one of his biggest defenders. She told MSNBC on Tuesday that the accusations of sexual misconduct by Kavanaugh are part of a “partisan smear campaign” led by Democrats.
In a Sept. 18 interview with CNN, Severino downplayed the accusations of Christine Blasey Ford, who claims Kavanaugh pinned her down, groped her and tried to remove her clothes at a party when the two were in high school in the 1980s. Severino said Blasey’s accusations “cover a whole range of conduct, from boorishness to rough horseplay to actual attempted rape.”
“There’s 35 years of memory that we’re trying to play with here, and I’m saying the behavior she described could describe a whole range of things,” Severino said.
The White House continued to stand by its candidate, with press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders telling CNBC that Trump still has confidence in his pick.
Kavanaugh was one of 25 candidates named in a list of acceptable conservative court picks provided by The Federalist Society to Trump. Kavanaugh’s name was added late as a bid by his friends Leo, White House counsel Don McGahn and conservative activist Ed Whelan to get Trump to choose him.
Jenna Amatulli contributed to this report.
This story has been updated with more details about the Judicial Crisis Network and to include Severino’s tweet from later Wednesday.
Need help? Visit RAINN’s National Sexual Assault Online Hotline or the National Sexual Violence Resource Center’s website.