President Trump on Tuesday doubled down on his support for Brett Kavanaugh amid sexual assault allegations against his Supreme Court nominee, saying he’d like the accusations to be examined swiftly by the Senate Judiciary Committee.
“We are looking to get this done as quickly as possible,” Trump told reporters before a meeting with Polish President Andrzej Duda at the White House. “He is truly an outstanding person, as you know. He’s got an unblemished record.”
“He is an incredible man,” Trump continued. “He is an incredible intellect. He will make an incredible Supreme Court justice.”
The president added: “I’m totally supportive. I’m very supportive.”
“I feel so badly for him that’s he’s going through this,” Trump said later during a joint press conference in the East Room. “This is not a man that deserves this.”
On Monday, Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Chuck Grassley announced a Sept. 24 public hearing had been set for Kavanaugh and his accuser, Christine Blasey Ford. Ford, however, has yet to commit to participate, though her lawyer says she is willing to testify in public.
Trump said that Kavanaugh is “anxious” to testify.
“I don’t know about the other party,” the president said. “But Judge Kavanaugh is very anxious to do it.”
Last week, reports surfaced that a letter had been sent to Sen. Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif., detailing Kavanaugh’s role in an alleged sexual assault that occurred in the early 1980s at a house party in suburban Maryland.
Ford, a 51-year-old research psychologist who teaches at Palo Alto University in California, reluctantly went public as Kavanaugh’s accuser in an interview with the Washington Post published on Sunday.
According to Ford’s account, Kavanaugh and his friend forced her into a room at the party, and he “pinned her to a bed on her back and groped her over her clothes, grinding his body against hers and clumsily attempting to pull off her one-piece bathing suit and the clothing she wore over it. When she tried to scream, she said, he put his hand over her mouth.”
“I thought he might inadvertently kill me,” Ford said.
In a statement, Kavanaugh “categorically and unequivocally” denied the claims.
“This is a completely false allegation,” he said. “I have never done anything like what the accuser describes — to her or to anyone.”
At the White House Tuesday, Trump said “this is a terrible thing that took place” — though it’s unclear whether he meant the alleged assault itself or the way the allegation was made public, which he decried.
“It’s frankly a terrible thing that information wasn’t given to us a long time ago — months ago,” Trump said, accusing Democrats of springing the sexual assault allegation on Republicans.
“That’s what you have hearings for,” he said. “You don’t wait until the hearing is over, then all of the sudden bring it up.”
“That’s what they do,” Trump said. “It’s obstruction; it’s resist. It’s whatever you have to do.”
But Ford’s public allegations against Kavanaugh sent shock waves throughout Washington, D.C., with several key Republicans, including Sen. Jeff Flake, joining Democrats in calling for a delay in the confirmation hearings until the allegations can be thoroughly investigated.
Trump criticized Feinstein for not raising the assault allegations during Kavanaugh’s public hearings or in her private conversations with the Supreme Court nominee.
“When Sen. Feinstein sat with Judge Kavanaugh for a long period of time — a long, long meeting,” the president said. “She had this letter — why didn’t she bring it up? Why didn’t she bring it up then?”
Feinstein said she was trying to keep Ford’s claims against Kavanaugh a secret at the accuser’s request. After they leaked to the press, Feinstein said, she turned over Ford’s letter to the FBI.
Trump said it “wouldn’t bother” him if the FBI reopened its background investigation into Kavanaugh in light of the sexual assault allegations.
“The FBI said that they really don’t do that; that’s not what they do,” Trump said. “Now they have done, supposedly, six background checks as Judge Kavanaugh has gone beautifully up a ladder.”
Trump also said he would not direct the bureau to be investigate the allegations further — leaving it up to senators on the judiciary committee to examine them.
“I don’t think the FBI should be involved because they don’t want to be involved. If they wanted to be, I would certainly do that,” he said, adding: “I think, politically speaking, the senators will do a very good job. They really will. They’re going to open it up and they will do a very good job.”
Sen. Susan Collins, R-Maine, who is seen as a key swing vote in the confirmation process, suggested on Tuesday that both Ford and Kavanaugh’s lawyers be given time to effectively cross-examine the accuser and the accused, followed by questions from senators.
Sen. Lisa Murkowski, R-Alaska, another key swing vote, told reporters on Capitol Hill Tuesday that she hopes her colleagues can question Ford in a respectful manner.
“My hope is that all will be respectful,” Murkowski said. “Respectful of Dr. Ford and respectful of Judge Kavanaugh.”
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