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Former Kavanaugh law clerk says allegation is ‘the opposite of everything that I know’

Jennifer Mascott has known Brett Kavanaugh for more than a decade, after serving as his clerk during his first year on the U.S. Court of Appeals in 2006. Mascott, now a professor at George Mason University Law School, talks with Judy Woodruff about the judge’s character and the allegation of sexual assault that’s been raised in the course of his Supreme Court confirmation process.

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  • Judy Woodruff:

    And now I am joined by someone who has known Judge Kavanaugh for more than a decade.

    Jennifer Mascott clerked for Kavanaugh during his first year on the U.S. Court of Appeals in 2006. She also clerked for Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas. Today, she is an assistant professor at George Mason University Law School.

    Welcome to the "NewsHour." Thank you for being here.

    You just heard what Congresswoman Eshoo said, that she listened for an hour-and-a-half to Professor Blasey Ford, and she believed her.

  • Jennifer Mascott:

    Well, yes, this is a very challenging set of circumstances. And, obviously, everybody should be listened to and treated with dignity and respect.

    My personal knowledge and experience, obviously, is with Judge Kavanaugh. And, as you have mentioned, I have known him for 12 years, him and his family, worked for him his first year on the bench.

    And during that entire time I have known him, he has — has acted with the utmost character and integrity, transparent, a wonderful jurist. He has had many people during the process before and after these latest — latest developments, come forward and testify to his character.

    And, also, my understanding is, he has since given a statement to Chairman Grassley, under penalty of perjury, categorically denying the accusations. And everything I know of him, these accusations are flatly inconsistent with his character.

  • Judy Woodruff:

    Have you spoken with him since these allegations surfaced?

  • Jennifer Mascott:

    Well, I'm not going to be able to talk about personal conversations and interaction with the judge.

    What I can tell you is that, over the years, of course, I worked for him 12 years ago. And then he's maintained — a mentor, a close contact, somebody that I go to for professional advice. He and Mrs. Kavanaugh annually get together with all of the law clerks and are just a wonderful, supportive mechanism for us and for the many students that he's taught over the years.

  • Judy Woodruff:

    When you heard this allegation, what was your reaction?

  • Jennifer Mascott:

    Well, when I heard the — when I heard the allegation, the immediate reaction that I had was just that it sounded the opposite of everything that I know about Judge Kavanaugh and his character and what I have seen from him over the years.

    And I also wonder and question why it was coming up now — now in the process. And, obviously, again, it's important and it needs to be heard. Everybody needs to have a chance to be listened to and treated with absolute dignity and respect.

    At the same time, Judge Kavanaugh, I believe, went through more than 30 hours of questioning at his hearings. I think he had 1,300 written questions that he answered. My understanding is, he had a lot of private meetings with senators. And so it's also challenging, it would seem, from that perspective, to — to come up and have to answer questions about this now, after the fact, rather than them being posed earlier or in more of a private setting.

  • Judy Woodruff:

    You have known him, as you said, for a dozen years. You obviously weren't — and don't say that you knew him when he was that young, 17 years old, in high school.

    So what makes you — are you convinced that it couldn't have happened? I mean, how do you look upon this?

  • Jennifer Mascott:

    So, from everything I know of Judge Kavanaugh's character for 12 years, it's flatly inconsistent with everything that I know of him.

    Also, as you know, 65 women who did know him around the time of high school years have also come forward in a letter talking to his character at that time. So he's had people throughout the process, early on in July, now later in September, come forward from all walks of life, from all different political and ideological persuasions testifying to his character.

    It's consistently been a comment about his fairness, his even-handedness, his transparency. He's a — he's a fantastic public servant, community leader, written over 300 opinions on the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals.

    I joined a letter of his female law clerks, many of them, early on in the process, and stand behind that support.

  • Judy Woodruff:

    And in your conversations with him over the years, he has he talked about his high school years at all? Has he made reference to Georgetown Prep or his high school years?

  • Jennifer Mascott:

    Well, I personally have not had occasion to discuss that with the judge. We have talked about the law. We have talked about law school. We have talked about my career.

    We have talked about case law, talked about his family.

  • Judy Woodruff:


    If — Jennifer Mascott, if you — if — it now looks as if Professor Blasey Ford is going to testify in some form — we don't know yet the details — next week.

    What — how will you judge what she he says? I mean, you — as someone who knows the law, I mean, how do you — or, as a human being watching all this, how will you judge whether she is credible or not?

  • Jennifer Mascott:

    Well, I think, at this point in the process, President Trump nominated Judge Kavanaugh, and has — is standing behind his nomination.

    And now this is really with the Senate. The Senate will — will listen to both sides, I think so far has been very — tried to be very fair in the process, is my understanding. And we will have to look and weigh each senator, listening to people's story.

    But Judge Kavanaugh has already come forward. He's categorically denied these. And I trust that he will have an opportunity to clear his name.

  • Judy Woodruff:

    Do you think either Judge Kavanaugh or Professor Blasey Ford should be given the benefit of the doubt here?

  • Jennifer Mascott:

    Well, I think that both parties should be — should have a chance to be treated with utmost respect and listened to.

    And I think the senators so far, from what I can tell and know, have really tried to make this a fair process. And I trust that they will continue to do that and trust their judgment in considering this confirmation process.

  • Judy Woodruff:

    Jennifer Mascott, who is a professor at George Mason School of Law, thank you very much.

  • Jennifer Mascott:

    Thank you so much for having me. Appreciate it.

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