POLITICS

Trump Defends Brett Kavanaugh Amid Sexual Assault Allegation

The Supreme Court nominee denies any wrongdoing.

President Donald Trump on Monday defended his Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh in the wake of allegations that Kavanaugh sexually assaulted a woman when they were both in high school.

Trump dismissed a reporter’s inquiry about whether Kavanaugh had offered to withdraw his nomination amid the allegations as a “ridiculous question” and called his nominee “one of the finest people that I’ve ever known,” according to a pool report.

“Never even had a little blemish on his record,” Trump said. “He is somebody very special.”

He added: “I wish the Democrats could have done this a lot sooner ... but with all of that being said, we want to go through the process.”

The president acknowledged there might be a “delay” in confirming Kavanaugh, but said: “I’m sure it will work out very well.”

Trump’s comments came a day after Kavanaugh’s accuser publicly identified herself as Christine Blasey Ford, a professor at Palo Alto University in California, in an interview with The Washington Post.

“I thought he might inadvertently kill me,” Ford, 51, said of the alleged assault in the early 1980s. “He was trying to attack me and remove my clothing.”

Ford alleges another teenager watched as a drunken Kavanaugh attempted to remove her clothing at a gathering in suburban Maryland. She told the Post that she tried to scream, but that Kavanaugh covered her mouth to silence her. She said she escaped after Kavanaugh’s friend entered the room and jumped on top of both of them.

Ford sent a confidential letter to Rep. Anna Eshoo (D-Calif.) and Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) after Kavanaugh’s nomination this summer to share her concerns about him.

Feinstein, a member of the Senate Judiciary Committee, which will decide whether to advance Kavanaugh’s nomination to the full Senate, confirmed the existence of the letter last week. She also said she referred the matter to the FBI.

Kavanaugh has “categorically and unequivocally” denied the allegation.

Ford told the Post she hadn’t wanted to come forward publicly, but after details of her letter began to leak, she decided she wanted to be the one to tell her story.

The Judiciary Committee is scheduled to vote on Kavanaugh’s confirmation on Thursday, but all 10 Democrats on the committee have said the panel should wait to vote until the FBI has conducted its review into the matter.

Several Republicans lawmakers, including Lisa Murkowski of Alaska, Jeff Flake of Arizona and Bob Corker of Tennessee, have also urged committee chairman Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) to delay the proceedings.

Grassley’s office said Sunday that the vote had not been rescheduled, but that the committee was working to set up a time for a staff call with Ford.

In a statement on Monday, Grassley said he is “working diligently to get to the bottom of these claims” as well as to find a way to hear from Ford in “an appropriate, precedented and respectful manner.”

Sen. Susan Collins (R-Maine) suggested in a tweet on Monday that Ford be allowed to testify before the Judiciary Committee.

The White House also issued a fresh statement from Kavanaugh on Monday, in which the nominee said he would be willing to talk to the committee “in any way” it deems appropriate to “defend my integrity.” 

Trump’s sympathetic take on the allegation against Kavanaugh comes as no surprise. The president faces accusations of sexual misconduct from 21 women; he’s denied them all.

This story has been updated with details of Ford’s allegations, reactions from several lawmakers, and a new statement from Kavanaugh.

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