As the Senate Judiciary Committee confirmation hearings recessed for a lunch break on Tuesday, Fred Guttenberg — the father of slain, 14-year-old Parkland, Florida, school shooting victim Jaime Guttenberg — approached Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh and attempted to shake the judge’s hand. But when Guttenberg introduced himself as the father of a murdered Parkland student, Kavanaugh “pulled his hand back, turned his back to me and walked away,” Guttenberg wrote on his Twitter account.
A video of the brief incident, seen below on this page, quickly went viral on social media, prompting a response from the White House which described Guttenberg — who has made frequent appearances on Capitol Hill to advocate for changes to existing gun laws, since the murder of his daughter and 16 others at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in February — as “an unidentified individual,” according to the Miami Herald.
The White House statement also claimed that security guards stopped Kavanaugh from shaking Guttenberg’s hand — a claim that would appear to be contradicted by video of the encounter. But Donald Trump administration press spokesperson Raj Shah later posted a video on Twitter which he said showed that “security intervened,” while another Twitter user noted a change in two White House accounts of the incident.
In his initial statement, Shah said via Twitter that security intervened “before the Judge was able to shake his hand.” But the video posted by Shah clearly showed no attempt by Kavanaugh to acknowledge Guttenberg, apparently leading Shah to say simply that “security intervened,” rather than claim Kavanaugh had tried to shake the Parkland father’s hand.
Another camera angle on the exchange is viewable in the video below, posted by Share Blue writer Tommy Christopher.
— Tommy Christopher (@tommyxtopher) September 4, 2018
Associated Press photographer Andrew Harnik captured the moment in a still image as well, and posted his photo to his own Twitter account.
Fred Guttenberg, the father of Jamie Guttenberg who was killed in the shooting in Parkland, Fla., left, tries to shake hands with @realDonaldTrump's Supreme Court nom., Brett Kavanaugh, right, during a lunch break. Kavanaugh did not shake his hand. (AP Photo/Andrew Harnik) @ap pic.twitter.com/smcCGuLT6X
— Andrew Harnik (@andyharnik) September 4, 2018
“I guess he did not want to deal with the reality of gun violence,” Guttenberg wrote on his Twitter feed.
Guttenberg also disputed Shah’s account that he was simply an “unidentified individual” who was blocked from reaching Kavanaugh by security personnel. He said that he was at the hearing as a guest of California Senator Dianne Feinstein, and was introduced by the senator, according to the Herald account.
He had earlier made his presence known, according to images posted on Twitter, by continuing to stand after others in the chamber were seated, a silent protest against gun violence that Guttenberg has also staged during previous visits to Congress.