Conservative legal commentator Ed Whelan has offered to resign from his position as president of the Ethics and Public Policy Center in the wake of tweets — since deleted — suggesting that Judge Brett M. Kavanaugh’s accuser may have mistaken the jurist for someone else.
Whelan’s offer was not accepted by the board of the Washington-based center, which decided instead to place him on a leave of absence following the tweets, which he has since described as “appalling and inexcusable.”
The board of the conservative think tank — which offers commentary on the courts, religion, abortion and other issues — announced its decision in a statement Sunday that described Whelan as having led the organization “with integrity and excellence for many years.”
Whelan’s claims on Twitter on Thursday suggesting that Christine Blasey Ford might have been assaulted by someone other than Kavanaugh, President Trump’s Supreme Court nominee, set off immediate controversy. He subsequently deleted the tweets and apologized.
Whelan is a well-known member of Washington’s conservative legal community, is close to Kavanaugh and has worked on the campaign to get him confirmed.
Before becoming president of the Ethics and Policy Center, Whelan served as an aide to Sen. Orrin G. Hatch (R-Utah) and worked in the administration of President George W. Bush, along with Kavanaugh. Earlier, Whelan was a clerk for the late Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia.
In an interview Friday with The Washington Post, Whelan denied talking with the White House or Kavanaugh before tweeting his thoughts on the assault complaint made by Ford. He refused to discuss his since-deleted tweets or the theory behind them.
Ford’s allegations that Kavanaugh pinned her to a bed, groped her and tried to pull off her clothes at a party in Montgomery County, Md., while they were teenagers have disrupted careful plans for a smooth confirmation path for Kavanaugh to the Supreme Court.
Kavanaugh, a judge on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit, has strongly denied Ford’s allegations, saying in a statement that he has “never done anything like what the accuser describes.”
Robert Barnes contributed to this article