Donald Trump lauds Brett Kavanaugh after hearing, urges Senate vote on nomination
President Trump and his aides spent much of Thursday glued to the TV watching Supreme Court nominee Brett M. Kavanaugh and accuser Christine Blasey Ford testify in a stormy Senate Judiciary Committee hearing, with the president believing the nominee survived the decades-old allegations of sexual misconduct and binge drinking.
“Judge Kavanaugh showed America exactly why I nominated him,” Mr. Trump tweeted moments after the nearly nine-hour hearing ended. “His testimony was powerful, honest, and riveting. Democrats’ search and destroy strategy is disgraceful and this process has been a total sham and effort to delay, obstruct, and resist. The Senate must vote!”
Mr. Trump himself had said before the hearing began that he might be persuaded by Ms. Blasey Ford’s accusations. But after a daylong hearing that included forceful, angry denials by the nominee and a blistering denunciation of Democrats’ tactics by White House ally Sen. Lindsey Graham, South Carolina Republican, Mr. Trump and his advisers believe the nomination was rescued.
And with it, conservatives’ control of the Supreme Court is at stake. The Judiciary Committee has scheduled a vote on the nomination for Friday morning.
The president started the day in New York City, where he wrapped up a week of meetings at the United Nations. He watched some of the hearing in his executive cabin aboard Air Force One on the way back to Washington at mid-day.
Mr. Trump uncharacteristically held off posting tweets all day as the hearing swung dramatically from the testimony of Ms. Blasey Ford, who accused Judge Kavanaugh of sexually assaulting her as a teenager in 1982, to the nominee’s emotional denials. He watched some of the hearing from the White House residence.
The president also postponed a meeting with Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein until next week, not wanting coverage of the showdown to interfere with Judge Kavanaugh’s hearing.
Some in the White House were gleeful late in the day when Mr. Graham, a valued sounding board for the president, criticized committee Democrats bitterly for engaging in a smear campaign against the nominee.
White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders tweeted that Mr. Graham “has more decency and courage than every Democrat member of the committee combined. God bless him.”
With other women raising accusations of sexual misconduct against Judge Kavanaugh in recent days, there were many calls for the president to withdraw the nomination. White House counselor Kellyanne Conway said Thursday that Mr. Trump hadn’t considered such a move.
“The president is not looking at any list,” she told reporters. “He’s watching the testimony today and he stands by Judge Kavanaugh.”
The president’s eldest son, Donald Jr., also weighed in as the nominee offered a vociferous, combative defense.
“I love Kavanaugh’s tone,” Donald Jr. tweeted. “It’s nice to see a conservative man fight for his honor and his family against a 35 year old claim with ZERO evidence and lots of holes that amounts to nothing more than a political hit job by the Dems. Others in the GOP should take notice!”
The younger Trump also took aim at Ms. Blasey Ford’s discussion of her fear of flying.
“I’m no psychology professor but it does seem weird to me that someone could have a selective fear of flying,” the president’s son tweeted of Ms. Ford. “Can’t do it to testify but for vacation, well it’s not a problem at all.”
He was referring to Ms. Ford’s testimony to the Senate Judiciary Committee, when she said she has a fear of flying but was able to get up the “gumption” to fly to Washington for the hearing. She said she finds it easier to get on a plane if she’s going on a vacation.