The judge accused of a sexual assault in 1986 was adamant.
"I categorically and unequivocally deny this allegation. I did not do this back in high school ... I'm not going to let false accusations drive us out of this process ... where I can be heard and defend my integrity, my lifelong record."
In 2018, Judge Brett Kavanaugh, and his accuser, Christine Blasey Ford, who is alive, went through parallel firestorms as the Senate weighed his nomination as a Justice of the US Supreme Court. Ms Ford told the senators: "Brett's assault on me drastically altered my life. For a very long time, I was too afraid and ashamed to tell anyone these details. I convinced myself that because Brett did not rape me, I should just move on and just pretend that it didn't happen." She was afraid during the attack he would kill her. Another woman, Deborah Ramirez, also accused Kavanaugh of sexual misconduct.
This was a moment of high reckoning for sexual assault victims and the #MeToo movement, which had already changed the landscape for women in Hollywood, media and corporate boardrooms. It was now colliding with President Trump's determination to place more conservatives on the Supreme Court, and alter its balance on issues including abortion and gun rights.
The statute of limitations had expired; Kavanaugh could not be criminally charged. The White House did accede to a time-limited FBI investigation. But the Senate Judiciary Committee concluded: "There is no corroboration of the allegations made by Dr Ford or Ms Ramirez."
The Senate did not find Brett Kavanaugh unfit for office; the confirmation vote was 50-48, and he serves on the court for life.
The American and Australian legal systems are profoundly different. No cabinet officer could have their identity protected against a sexual assault charge by defamation laws.
But our political cultures are more often aligned. #MeToo is strong here. The old boys' network is being eroded.
For Christian Porter, the issue of fitness for office now rests with the Prime Minister, his colleagues in the Liberal Party, the preselectors in his seat of Pearce, and the voters in that electorate.
The Kavanaugh saga echoes here.
"Nothing in the allegations ever happened," Porter said. "If I stand down from my position as Attorney-General because of an allegation about something that simply did not happen, then any person in Australia can lose their career, their job, their life's work, based on nothing more than an accusation that appears in print."
While a coronial or other investigation of this matter may never, as in Kavanaugh's case, be able to prove guilt, Christian Porter cannot avoid facing a reckoning on judgments about his fitness to serve.
- Bruce Wolpe is a senior fellow at the United States Studies Centre at the University of Sydney. He worked on the Democratic staff in the US Congress and served on the staff of former prime minister Julia Gillard.