President Donald Trump said Monday he was apologizing on behalf of the whole country to his new conservative Supreme Court justice after one of the most contentious confirmation processes in US history.

At a White House swearing-in ceremony, Trump stood next to Justice Brett Kavanaugh and said he’d been “proven innocent” of the sexual assault allegations that threatened to derail him in a Senate confirmation process revealing the depth of the left-right split tearing through American politics.

“On behalf of our nation, I want to apologize to Brett and the entire Kavanaugh family for the terrible pain and suffering you have been forced to endure,” he said at the ceremony in the ornate White House East Room.

Trump showed he still considers the nomination row a political battle. Before the ceremony, he’d described opposition Democrats as “evil” and the sexual assault claims as a “hoax.”

But after being sworn in, Kavanaugh struck a markedly more conciliatory tone.

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