Ben Wittes: 'I would not vote to confirm Brett Kavanaugh'

Benjamin Wittes, a senior fellow at the Brookings Institution and editor-in-chief of Lawfare blog, said Tuesday that, despite having defending Brett Kavanaugh in the past, he would vote against confirming him to the Supreme Court.

In an essay published in The Atlantic on Tuesday, Wittes wrote that he would vote against Kavanaugh's confirmation if he were a senator.


In the essay, titled "I Know Brett Kavanaugh, but I Wouldn’t Confirm Him," Wittes writes, "This is an article I never imagined myself writing, that I never wanted to write, that I wish I could not write."

"These are words I write with no pleasure, but with deep sadness. Unlike many people who will read them with glee — as validating preexisting political, philosophical, or jurisprudential opposition to Kavanaugh’s nomination — I have no hostility to or particular fear of conservative jurisprudence," Wittes wrote.

"I have a long relationship with Kavanaugh, and I have always liked him. I have admired his career on the D.C. Circuit. I have spoken warmly of him," he continued. "I have published him. I have vouched publicly for his character — more than once — and taken a fair bit of heat for doing so." 

Wittes also wrote that he is "keenly aware that rejecting Kavanaugh on the record currently before the Senate will set a dangerous precedent," because the allegations against him are yet unproven.

"Despite all of that, if I were a senator, I would vote against Kavanaugh’s confirmation," he wrote, adding that he believed the testimony of Christine Blasey Ford, who has said Kavanaugh sexually assaulted her when they were in high school in the 1980s.

Wittes also wrote that Thursday's hearing in front of the Senate Judiciary Committee, during which both Ford and Kavanaugh testified, "left Kavanaugh nonviable as a justice."

Wittes, a friend of former FBI Director James ComeyJames Brien ComeyBiden sister has book deal, set to publish in April Mystery surrounds Justice's pledge on journalist records NYT publisher: DOJ phone records seizure a 'dangerous incursion' on press freedom MORE, condemned Kavanaugh for having an "unprecedentedly partisan outburst of emotion" during his opening statement before the Senate panel.

"I cannot condone the partisanship — which was raw, undisguised, naked, and conspiratorial — from someone who asks for public faith as a dispassionate and impartial judicial actor. His performance was wholly inconsistent with the conduct we should expect from a member of the judiciary," Wittes wrote.

Wittes had previously defended Kavanaugh and advocated for his confirmation to the high court, writing in a tweet on Sept. 8 that Kavanaugh is a "thoroughly decent and honorable person." 

The first report of a letter detailing the first assault allegation against Kavanaugh came to light less than one week later. Three women, including Ford, have since come out publicly to accuse Kavanaugh of sexual misconduct.

Wittes, who said he has had a relationship with Kavanaugh for years, wrote that "the Brett Kavanaugh who showed up to Thursday’s hearing is a man I have never met."

"As much as I admire Kavanaugh, my conscience would not permit me to vote for him," he concluded.

The FBI is investigating the allegations against Kavanaugh and has until Friday to conclude its review.