President Donald Trump sided with his embattled Supreme Court nominee, defending Judge Brett Kavanaugh against unproven allegations of sexual assault.
The president dismissed any notion that Kavanaugh’s nomination should be withdrawn, calling that a “ridiculous question” while accusing Democrats of playing politics by not mentioning the accusation against the judge until days before the Senate Judiciary Committee was poised to vote on his nomination.
“He’s an outstanding intellect. An outstanding judge. Respected by everybody. Never even had a little blemish on his record,” Trump told reporters at the White House on Monday.
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But Trump’s defense was somewhat measured. He allowed that there might need to be a “little delay” in the Senate confirmation process to deal with the explosive, but unproven, allegation that Kavanaugh acted inappropriately at a high school party more than 30 years ago.
“I’d like to see a complete process. … I want him to go in at the absolute highest level. And I think to do that you have to go through this. If it takes a little delay, it’ll take a little delay,” the president said.
“They’ll go through a process and hear everybody out. I think it’s important,” Trump continued. “But with all of that being said, it will, I’m sure, work out very well.”
Kavanaugh’s nomination had seemed to be on a glide path until Christine Blasey Ford, an outspoken Trump critics and psychology professor at Palo Alto University in California, said Sunday that Kavanaugh had assaulted her at a drunken high school party over 30 years ago.
Kavanaugh quickly denied the allegation.
Ford’s reported eyewitness also has come forward to say the event never occurred.
Both were invited to testify about the matter before the committee next Monday, which could create a made-for-TV spectacle that Republican leaders had hoped to avoid.
White House aides met behind closed doors cognizant of two realities: that scuttling the Kavanaugh nomination and finding a replacement would likely postpone confirmation hearings until after what could be a difficult midterm election, while pushing back too hard in his defense could alienate senators that hold the judge’s future in their hands.
Until he spoke Monday afternoon, Trump had stayed out of sight as the allegations swirled. He received closed-door updates on Hurricane Florence while tweeting about supposed “Deep State” conspiracies and wishing the nation a happy Constitution Day.
The White House tone for the day was set by one of the administration’s few high-ranking female voices, Kellyanne Conway, who said Ford’s voice should be heard.
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“She should not be insulted. She should not be ignored. She should testify under oath, and she should do it on Capitol Hill,” said Conway, a senior White House adviser.
Still, the administration continued to push forward the nomination and summoned Kavanaugh to the White House, where he spent time with White House counsel Don McGahn and other aides.
The Associated Press contributed to this article