Although President Donald Trump has abstained from alcohol throughout his life, he does not judge other men who drink—especially if they are are likely to be sworn in as the next Supreme Court Justice.
When asked by a reporter whether he’d revoke Brett Kavanaugh’s nomination if the candidate downplayed his teenage drinking habits during last week’s hearing, Trump defended his embattled judge.
“I don’t think he did [lie]” the president told reporters at Monday’s White House press conference. “I watched that hearing and I watched a man saying that he did have difficulty, as a young man, with drink.”
Trump reminded the press that, while he never drank in high school like Kavanaugh, many of his peers did.
“I graduated from high school, and while I did not drink, I saw a lot of people drinking,” said the president. “They’d drink beer and they’d go crazy. They were in high school! They were sixteen, seventeen years old. And I saw a lot of it. Does that mean that they can’t do something they want to do with their life? It’s a very tough thing. I really believe he was very strong about the fact that he drank a lot.”
Trump emphasized that “nobody said anything bad about” Kavanaugh’s drinking “in many, many years.” He also called an FBI investigation into the nominee’s high school behavior “unfair,” but said he he’ll have an “open mind” about the findings.
Kavanaugh’s past alcohol consumption has become a major focus for lawmakers and federal investigators. During his Capitol Hill reckoning last Thursday, Senator Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.) pressed the nominee on whether he had ever experienced blackouts—which Kavanaugh denied. But over the weekend, a former classmate of Kavanaugh’s accused the candidate of making “a blatant mischaracterization” of his college drinking days.
“I can unequivocally say that in denying the possibility that he ever blacked out from drinking, and in downplaying the degree and frequency of his drinking, Brett has not told the truth,” Yale alumnus Chad Ludington told CNN.
Ludington, who will provide additional information on Kavanaugh’s drinking to the FBI, also told The New York Times that in one incident the nominee hurled beer at someone’s face in college.
“When Brett got drunk, he was often belligerent and aggressive,” explained Ludington. “On one of the last occasions I purposely socialized with Brett, I witnessed him respond to a semi-hostile remark, not by defusing the situation, but by throwing his beer in the man’s face and starting a fight that ended with one of our mutual friends in jail.”
Trump abstained from ever drinking following the death of his older brother, Fred Trump Jr., to alcoholism.
“I’m not a drinker. I can honestly say I never had a beer in my life, okay? It’s one of my only good traits. I never drink,” said Trump on Monday. “Can you imagine, if I had, what a mess I’d be? I’d be the world’s worst.”