Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh, visibly angry, called his confirmation process a "national disgrace" on Thursday, in his opening remarks before the Senate Judiciary Committee.
In a tearfully-delivered statement he said he had not shared with anyone except for one of his former law clerks, Kavanaugh denied the allegations against him with more forceful terms than he has used since the accusations first surfaced this month.
"My family and my name have been totally and permanently destroyed by vicious and false additional accusations," Kavanaugh said. And the 53-year-old federal appeals court judge blasted the allegations against him as part of "a calculated and orchestrated political hit."
He said that opposition to his nomination was "fueled with apparent pent-up anger about President Trump and the 2016 election" and "revenge on behalf of the Clintons."
Lamenting what he called the "frenzy on the left to come up with something, anything to block my confirmation," Kavanaugh said that as a result of the allegations against him, he may no longer be able to return to the activities he most enjoys, including teaching law and coaching basketball.
Three women have come forward alleging that Kavanaugh sexually assaulted them or other women decades ago. Earlier Thursday, one of those women, Christine Blasey Ford, testified to the committee that Kavanaugh had drunkenly pinned her to a bed and groped her at a high school gathering in Maryland in 1982.
"I never attended a gathering like the one that Dr. Ford describes in her allegation. I've never sexually assaulted Dr. Ford or anyone," Kavanaugh said.
He said that he did drink beer in high school, but that he never drank beer "to the point of blacking out, and I never sexually assaulted anyone."
"There is a bright line between drinking beer, which I gladly do, and which I fully embrace, and sexually assaulting someone, which is a violent crime," he said. "If every American who drinks beer, or every American who drank beer in high school, is suddenly presumed guilty of sexual assault, we'll be in an ugly new place in this country."
Kavanaugh said he bore no ill will to Ford, and said "those that make allegations always deserve to be heard." He said that in the 1990s, one of his closest friends confided to him about her own experience with sexual abuse. But he added that "due process means listening to both sides."
Describing a conversation he had with his daughter Liza, in which she suggested that the family pray for Ford, Kavanaugh choked up.
"A lot of wisdom from a 10-year-old," he said.
But he decried the confirmation process, telling senators that "you have replaced advice and consent with search and destroy."
"Throughout my 53 years and seven months on this earth until last week, no one ever accused me of any kind of sexual misconduct," Kavanaugh said. He said there was "never a hint of anything of this kind, and that's because nothing of this kind ever happened."
And he re-affirmed that the allegations would not force him to withdraw his nomination.
"You may defeat me in the final vote, but you'll never get me to quit," he said. "Never."