Three Republican senators seen as swing votes in the confirmation battle over Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh condemned President Trump on Wednesday for mocking Kavanaugh accuser Dr. Christine Blasey Ford at a campaign rally in Mississippi the night before.
“There’s no time and no place for remarks like that,” Sen. Jeff Flake, R-Ariz., said in an interview with NBC’s “Today” show. “To discuss something this sensitive at a political rally is just not right. It’s just not right. I wish he hadn’t done it. I just say it’s kind of appalling.”
Susan Collins, R-Maine, echoed Flake’s disdain upon arriving on Capitol Hill on Wednesday morning.
“The president’s comments were just plain wrong,” Collins told reporters. She did not answer when asked whether Trump’s remarks would affect her vote on confirming Kavanaugh for the high court.
Sen. Lisa Murkowski, R-Alaska, who will cast another key vote, said the president’s comments “mocking Dr. Ford were wholly inappropriate and, in my view, unacceptable.”
“How did you get home? ‘I don’t remember’,” the president said, mocking Ford’s answers before the Senate Judiciary Committee. “How did you get there? “I don’t remember.’ Where is the place? ‘I don’t remember.’ How many years ago was it? ‘I don’t know. I don’t know. I don’t know. I don’t know.’ What neighborhood was it in? ‘I don’t know.’ Where’s the house? ‘I don’t know.’ Upstairs, downstairs, where was it? ‘I don’t know. But I had one beer; that’s the only thing I remember.’”
Ford testified that Kavanaugh sexually assaulted her in a home in suburban Maryland when they were teenagers. She said the attack occurred in an upstairs bedroom, and that Kavanaugh and his friend, Mark Judge, who was present, were drunk.
Trump — who earlier in the day said, “This is a very scary time for young men in America” — complained to the crowd about the trauma the allegations have inflicted on Kavanaugh and his family.
“A man’s life is in tatters. A man’s life is shattered,” Trump said. “His wife is shattered. His daughters — who are beautiful, incredible young kids — they destroy people, they want to destroy people. These are really evil people.”
On Wednesday morning, Trump continued to vent about the treatment of his Supreme Court nominee.
“I see it each time I go out to Rallies in order to help some of our great Republican candidates,” the president tweeted. “VOTERS ARE REALLY ANGRY AT THE VICIOUS AND DESPICABLE WAY DEMOCRATS ARE TREATING BRETT KAVANAUGH! He and his wonderful family deserve much better.”
Flake, a member of the Senate Judiciary Committee, voted to move Kavanaugh’s nomination out of committee, but said he would not vote to confirm him unless the FBI investigated the allegations. The White House agreed, on the condition that the bureau’s probe be completed within seven days. The FBI investigation is expected to wrap up as early as Wednesday despite an NBC News report that more than three dozen potential witnesses — including Ford — have not been contacted. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell on Tuesday vowed to bring a vote on Kavanaugh to the Senate this week.
Speaking at the Atlantic Festival in Washington, D.C., on Tuesday afternoon, Flake also said he was “troubled” by Kavanaugh’s “sharp and partisan” remarks blasting Democratic members of the Senate Judiciary Committee for their handling of the allegations against him.
“We can’t have this on the court,” Flake said. “We simply can’t.”
Sen. @JeffFlake says he was “very troubled” by the “tone” of Judge Kavanaugh’s “sharp and partisan” remarks to the Senate Judiciary Committee: “We can’t have this on the court, we simply can’t” pic.twitter.com/uA3PT4W3EQ
— Yahoo News (@YahooNews) October 2, 2018
But when asked by a reporter after the event if this meant he would not vote to confirm Kavanaugh, Flake appeared shaken by the exchange.
“I didn’t say that,” Flake said. “I wasn’t referring to him.”
During a rare White House press briefing Wednesday afternoon, press secretary Sarah Sanders disputed the notion that Trump was mocking Ford.
“The president was stating the facts,” Sanders said. “He was stating facts that were included in Dr. Ford’s testimony. And the Senate has to make a decision based on those facts and whether or not they see Judge Kavanaugh to be qualified to hold a position on the Supreme Court.”
Every word of Kavanaugh’s testimony has been “picked apart,” Sanders added, “yet if anybody says anything about the accusations that have been thrown against him, that’s totally off-limits and outrageous. This entire process has been a disgrace.”
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