Senator Heidi Heitkamp Says Brett Kavanaugh’s Body Language Helped Determine Her Vote

Senator Heidi Keikamp speaking to reporters at a news conference
Gabriella Demczuk / Getty Images

The voting to confirm Brett Kavanaugh to the Supreme Court was certainly a close call. Senator Heidi Heitkamp, the first woman from North Dakota elected to the U.S. Senate, was planning on voting to confirm him, reported the Washington Post. She even had a prepared statement to explain her reasoning for her choice. Then, she witnessed Kavanaugh’s testimony.

“We communicate not only with words, but with our body language and demeanor,” she explained to CNN’s Dana Bash. “I saw somebody who was very angry, who was very nervous…I saw rage.”

Heitkamp ultimately voted against confirming Kavanaugh to the Supreme Court. It was his response to Senator Amy Klobuchar’s questioning, Heitkamp said, that sealed the deal for her. When Klobuchar asked Kavanaugh whether he had ever blacked out from drinking, he angrily responded, “I don’t know, have you?” Klobuchar has just finished discussing her father’s struggle with alcoholism to the Senate Judiciary Committee.

Heitkamp said she watched the hearing multiple times, including with the sound turned off. Kavanaugh’s demeanor, she said, solidified her vote.

“I saw rage that a lot of people said, ‘well of course you’re going to see rage he’s being falsely accused,’ but it is at all times you’re to acquit yourself with a demeanor that’s becoming of the court,” Heitkamp said to CNN.

Donald Trump swearing in Brett Kavanaugh as Supreme Court Justice
Brett Kavanaugh being sworn in as Supreme Court Justice Chip Somodevilla / Getty Images

Heitkamp also believes that her experience as an attorney helped contribute to her final decision. She explained that there were situations where she believed the victim in sexual assault cases, but could not prosecute the accused due to lack of evidence. In addition, Heitkamp revealed her own mother was a survivor of sexual assault, which was another factor that played a part in her choice.

Though Heitcamp is a Democrat, deciding to vote against Kavanaugh was a tough choice for her, as President Donald Trump won by 36 percentage points in her home state of North Dakota. Other residents that were polled voiced support for Kavanaugh. Heitcamp feared the backlash that would come with denying Kavanaugh’s confirmation. She credited her parents for her sense of morals and ethics, telling a crowd at an Oktoberfest event in Wyndmere that her parents didn’t raise her to “vote a certain way so that [she] could win,” but “raised [her] to vote the right way.”

In the end, Kavanaugh was indeed confirmed to the U.S. Supreme Court. Heitcamp stands by her decision. “When someone shows you who they are, believe them,” she said.