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WATCH: ‘I am innocent of this charge.’ Kavanaugh slams allegations as character assassination in opening statement

Brett Kavanaugh forcefully defended his nomination to the Supreme Court in his opening statement at the Senate Judiciary Committee hearing on Thursday, calling efforts to derail his confirmation process a “grotesque and coordinated character assassination” fueled by people’s hatred of President Donald Trump and funded by left-wing opposition groups.

“I’ve never sexually assaulted anyone, not in high school, not in college, not ever,” Kavanaugh said. He told the panel that one of his closest friends was sexually abused and she confided in him and sought his advice. “Sexual assault is horrific.”

“This is a circus,” he continued. “The consequences will extend long past my nomination” by dissuading competent candidates from serving their nation. “I fear for the future,” he said.

He insisted he would “not be intimidated” into withdrawing from the confirmation process, Kavanaugh said. “You may defeat me in the final vote, but you’ll never get me to quit. Never.”

The nominee often spoke through tears, remembering his father, expressing gratitude for his family as well as women who have spoken out in support.

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