On Monday, President Trump responded to a claim by a woman who accused Supreme Court nominee Brett M. Kavanaugh of sexual assault when the two were high school students. Trump praised Kavanaugh as “one of the finest people” while he also signaled that he supports having the Senate hold hearings on the matter. “We want to go through a full process . . . and hear everybody out,” Trump told reporters at the White House. Saying that Kavanaugh is “somebody very special,” who “never even had a little blemish on his record,” Trump slammed Democrats who he said should have “done this a lot sooner because they had this information for many months.”
Of the confirmation, which was expected for Thursday, Trump said, “If it takes a little delay, it’ll take a little delay,” and added, “It will, I’m sure, work out very well.” Democrats and three Republicans in the Senate have asked for a hearing of the woman's claims.
NEWS: Sen. Jeff Flake (R-Ariz.) tells me in an intv he that doesn’t think the Judiciary Cmte should move ahead with its Thursday vote on Kavanaugh until they hear more from Christine Blasey Ford. “For me, we can’t vote until we hear more.”— Sean Sullivan (@WaPoSean) September 16, 2018
The Washington Post identified college professor Christine Blasey Ford as the author of a letter that was sent to Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) that accused Kavanaugh of sexual misconduct that allegedly occurred in the 1980s. Ford’s attorney said that she is willing to testify. Kavanaugh is also willing to testify before the the Senate Judiciary Committee. “I have never done anything like what the accuser describes — to her or to anyone,” Kavanaugh said in a statement. “Because this never happened, I had no idea who was making this accusation until she identified herself yesterday.”
Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Charles E. Grassley (R-Iowa) released a statement on Monday that Ford “deserves to be heard” but stopped short of committing to having public hearings. He also criticized Senate Democrats for holding on to the letter for months before suddenly release it just before the confirmation vote.
Grassley said he was working on “a way to hear [Ford] out in an appropriate, precedented and respectful manner.” He said that Feinstein’s office is not cooperating with him, while Democrats are demanding an FBI investigation rather than having Judiciary Committee staffers make telephone calls.
Sen. John Cornyn (R-Tex.) released a statement on Monday saying that the Judiciary Committee should use its normal procedures to address Ford’s allegations. “That Democrats have so egregiously mishandled this up until now is no excuse for us to do the same,” said Cornyn. “If Democrats reject the committee handling this swiftly and in a bipartisan way through regular order, then it’s clear that their only intention is to smear Judge Kavanaugh and derail his nomination.”
Three Republicans who are swing votes on the nomination issued statements demanding a review of Ford’s allegations. Sen. Susan Collins (R-Maine) tweeted that “Professor Ford and Judge Kavanaugh should both testify under oath before the Judiciary Committee.” Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R-AK) and Sen. Jeff Flake (R-AZ) are also calling for testimony. Collins and Murkowski support Planned Parenthood and abortion rights, and broke with GOP colleagues to vote against legislation to abolish Obamacare.
Sens. Joe Donnelly (Ind.), Heidi Heitkamp (N.D.) and Joe Manchin III (W.Va.), who represent red states, have also called for hearings. Manchin said Ford “deserves to be heard,” and Kavanaugh “deserves a chance to clear his name” during a hearing.
The White House is standing by its man, but expects Ford will offer testimony to the Judiciary Committee. “This woman should not be insulted, and she should not be ignored,” White House counselor Kellyanne Conway said during an interview on Fox News. Affirming that Kavanaugh is “a man of character and integrity” but said that she expects Ford to tell her story to the Judiciary Committee, either by telephone or in person. “She should be heard,” Conway said, based on conversations with Trump, and added the the confirmation process “should not unduly delay the vote on Judge Kavanaugh.”
On ABC’s “The View,” Senate Minority Leader Charles E. Schumer (D-N.Y.) said Ford is “extremely credible” and believes that she may convince other senators. Calling for an FBI investigation, Schumer said, “Trying to rush this through on Thursday is an insult to the women of America and an insult to the majesty of the Supreme Court of the United States.” Also, Sen. Richard J. Durbin (D-Ill.) told CNN that Ford should be be heard but argued that it would be “too fast” for her to appear before the Senate this week. “I don’t know if that’s fair,” Durbin said. In a letter, the 10 Democrats on the Judiciary Committee urged Grassley to postpone Thursday’s scheduled vote to confirm.