FACT CHECK: Did Kavanaugh ‘Pull His Hand Back’ From The Parkland Victim’s Dad?

Emily Larsen | Fact Check Reporter

Fred Guttenberg, whose daughter was killed in the February Parkland, Florida, school shooting, said that Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh “pulled his hand back” when Guttenberg tried to introduce himself at Kavanaugh’s Senate confirmation hearing Tuesday.

“Just walked up to Judge Kavanaugh as morning session ended,” Guttenberg tweeted Tuesday. “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. I guess he did not want to deal with the reality of gun violence.”

Verdict: False

Video of the interaction shows that Kavanaugh never put his hand out to shake Guttenberg’s. His hands remained on his suit jacket button.

Kavanaugh did turn away after seeing Guttenberg’s extended hand, though it is not clear if he knew who Guttenberg was.

Fact Check:

Guttenberg attended the hearing in the audience as a guest of Sen. Dianne Feinstein, who has criticized Kavanaugh’s rulings on gun issues. “He knows firsthand how Brett Kavanaugh’s extreme views on guns could lead to more massacres,” Feinstein said in a tweet Tuesday.

As Kavanaugh’s confirmation hearing broke for lunch, Guttenberg walked up behind Kavanaugh and tapped him lightly to get his attention. Guttenberg extended his hand and introduced himself.

Videos of the interaction show that Kavanaugh did not “pull his hand back” from Guttenberg after learning that he was the father of one of the 17 Parkland shooting victims.

Kavanaugh had started to button his coat when Guttenberg got his attention. The judge looked at Guttenberg, but his hands remained on his jacket as he turned back around and walked away while Guttenberg continued to talk. Kavanaugh never extended his hand toward Guttenberg and did not pull it back.

Though Kavanaugh could see Guttenberg’s extended hand before he turned around and walked away, it is not clear if he recognized Guttenberg or heard him say that his daughter was killed in the Parkland shooting.

The White House suggested that security interrupted the introduction. “As Judge Kavanaugh left for his lunch, an unidentified individual approached him. Before the Judge was able to shake his hand, security had intervened,” White House principal deputy press secretary Raj Shah said in a tweet Tuesday.

Guttenberg disputed Shah’s explanation. “I was here all day and introduced by Senator Feinstein. No security involved. He turned and walked away,” he tweeted in response.

The video shows that a security officer walked up to Kavanaugh as Guttenberg approached and reached the judge as he turned to leave the hearing room.

Guttenberg insisted in a CNN interview that the confrontation was not a misunderstanding and that Kavanaugh knew who he was. He claimed that Kavanaugh only turned around after he mentioned that he is the father of a Parkland victim. “As soon as I got to that ‘murdered in Parkland,’ that’s when you saw him turn and move and walk the other way, and that’s when you saw security start to help direct him,” he said.

Videos show that Guttenberg mentioned his daughter and Parkland after Kavanaugh had already turned away, however.

Protesters interrupted Kavanaugh’s Supreme Court confirmation hearing seconds after it started and periodically throughout the hearing on Tuesday and Wednesday. “Kavanaugh is a danger to the future of America,” one protester said before being escorted out of the hearing room.

Guttenberg did not respond to requests for comment.

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Emily Larsen

Fact Check Reporter