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Kavanaugh says he mistook Parkland parent for protester

'If I had known who he was, I would have shaken his hand,' Kavanaugh writes

Fred Guttenberg attempts to shake hands with President Donald Trump's Supreme Court nominee, Brett Kavanaugh, right, as he leaves for a lunch break while appearing before the Senate Judiciary Committee on Capitol Hill in Washington, Tuesday.
Fred Guttenberg attempts to shake hands with President Donald Trump's Supreme Court nominee, Brett Kavanaugh, right, as he leaves for a lunch break while appearing before the Senate Judiciary Committee on Capitol Hill in Washington, Tuesday. (Associated Press)


WASHINGTON – Judge Brett Kavanaugh said Wednesday that he mistook Fred Guttenberg, whose daughter was killed in the Parkland school shooting, for a protester during a break in his Supreme Court confirmation hearing last week. He said he if had known who Guttenberg was, he wouldn't have walked away.

Guttenberg extended his hand to Kavanaugh last Tuesday, introducing himself and saying, "My daughter was killed in Parkland." Kavanaugh quickly turned away and left the room with his security detail.

Guttenberg has become a staunch advocate of gun control since the death of his daughter Jaime and was in Washington to advocate for stricter laws.

"Just walked up to Judge Kavanaugh as morning session ended. Put out my hand to introduce myself as Jaime Guttenberg's dad. He pulled his hand back, turned his back to me and walked away," Guttenberg wrote on Twitter last week. "I guess he did not want to deal with the reality of gun violence."

Photographs and video of the exchange went viral on social media, with some calling Kavanaugh insensitive. 

"Jaime deserves better. Fred deserves better. We deserve better," said Delaney Tarr, who graduated from Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in June.

Kavanaugh addressed the incident in a written answer to a question from Iowa Sen. Chuck Grassley.

Here's Kavanaugh's full answer: 

As I was leaving the hearing room for a recess last Tuesday, a man behind me yelled my name, approached me from behind, and touched my arm. It had been a chaotic morning with a large number of protesters in the hearing room. As the break began, the room remained noisy and crowded. When I turned and did not recognize the man, I assumed he was a protestor. In a split second, my security detail intervened and ushered me out of the hearing room.

In that split second, I unfortunately did not realized that the man was the father of a shooting victim from Parkland, Florida. Mr. Guttenberg has suffered an incalculable loss. If I had known who he was, I would have shaken his hand, talked to him, and expressed my sympathy. And I would have listened to him.