Senate GOP tries to push Kavanaugh over the finish line

With President Donald Trump leading the charge, Republicans and the White House went on the offensive on Tuesday, accusing Democrats of using flimsy allegations of sexual misconduct in a last-ditch bid to stop the Supreme Court nomination of federal appeals court Judge Brett Kavanaugh, as GOP leaders vowed a Senate vote as early as next Tuesday.

“We’re going to be moving forward – I’m confident we’re going to win,” Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell told reporters just off the Senate floor, as top Republicans formed a solid political wedge in public, making the argument that ‘vague, uncorroborated allegations’ should not be allowed to stop Kavanaugh.

“The Democrats in the Senate have had one goal since the beginning of this process, and that is to sink Judge Kavanaugh’s nomination,” said Sen. John Thune (R-SD).

“I think everybody in America understands there is a presumption of innocence,” McConnell added. “That standard of fairness is applied to every American citizen.”

Increasingly confident that Kavanaugh will survive Thursday’s hearing – where Dr. Christine Blasey Ford is scheduled to speak about her allegations of sexual misconduct against Kavanaugh from 1982 – Republicans set up a possible Friday vote in the Senate Judiciary Committee on the Kavanaugh nomination.

If Kavanaugh is approved by the panel on Friday, the full Senate could start debate on the nomination as early as Saturday, with a final vote occurring by the following Tuesday – if Republicans have 50 votes for the judge.

“The committee will do its work,” said Sen. David Perdue (R-GA), “and we’ll hopefully get to a vote as soon as possible.”

So far, GOP Senators who have been on the record in support of Kavanaugh aren’t backing away from the judge at this point because of the multiple allegations against him.

“Based on what I know now, it would not be enough for me to wipe out his entire life,” said Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC), who argued to reporters that a lack of corroborating evidence from Ford is an important point.

Republicans also set in motion a plan to hire a special outside counsel – Rachel Mitchell, a sex crimes prosecutor from Arizona – who would ask questions of Ford, instead of the all male GOP lineup on the Senate Judiciary Committee.

“I’ve taken this additional step to have questions asked by expert staff counsel to establish the most fair and respectful treatment of the witnesses possible,” said Sen. Charles Grassley (R-IA), the chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee.

“I think it’s smart of us to have someone who is a professional do it,” Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC) said of the outside counsel decision, as Graham told reporters if he felt like something else needed to be asked, then he might speak up at some point.

The move was seemingly taken with the 1991 Clarence Thomas-Anita Hill hearings in mind, when GOP Senators faced stern criticism for how they questioned Hill’s accusations of sexual harassment against the future Supreme Court Justice.

Democrats expressed dismay at the decision.

“I’m amazed that they would not ask questions themselves,” said Sen. Tim Kaine (D-VA) of Republicans.

Meanwhile at the United Nations, President Trump made very clear that he’s on board with Kavanaugh, as he lashed out at Democrats, and one of the judge’s accusers.

“The Democrats are playing a con game. C-O-N. A con game,” the President said. “And it’s a shame. And they know it’s a con game.”

“I look at the second accuser – the second accuser has nothing. The second accuser doesn’t even know – she thinks, maybe, it could have been him, maybe not,” Mr. Trump said. “She admits that she was drunk.”

That woman, Deborah Ramirez, is not expected to testify before the panel on Thursday.

 

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