Trump flashes ‘thumbs up’ after Kavanaugh confirmation
President Donald Trump watched Brett Kavanaugh’s confirmation as he flew on Air Force One to Kansas, and told reporters he was “100 percent certain” that Christine Blasey Ford, who accused the Supreme Court nominee of sexual assault, “named the wrong person.”
Reporters were invited into Trump’s private, wood-paneled cabin on the presidential jet, where Trump monitored the Senate vote on a big-screen television tuned to Fox News.
The president flashed two “thumbs up” when the vote was called 50 to 48 in favor of Trump’s second Supreme Court pick. “I appreciate those 50 great votes,” he said. Three senior aides in the cabin applauded.
More: Senate confirms Kavanaugh to Supreme Court
Trump said Kavanaugh is “going to go down as a totally brilliant Supreme Court justice for many years,” and praised the nominee’s temperament and past judicial service. He is, said Trump, “a brilliant scholar.”
“We’re honored that he was able to withstand these horrible, horrible attacks by the Democrats,” Trump added.
Trump speaks this evening in Topeka, Kansas, hours after the Senate narrowly confirmed the 53-year-old Kavanaugh after a historically bitter and partisan battle.
Kavanaugh overcame allegations of school-age sexual assault and claims by Democrats he was dishonest in Senate hearings. He’ll be sworn in later on Saturday in a private ceremony.
In response to a reporter’s question, Trump said it was a “total misnomer” that women were angry about Kavanaugh’s confirmation. “Women, I feel, were in many ways stronger in his favor,” Trump said. He then made similar comments to those he’s tweeted in the past two days: that women demonstrating against Kavanaugh had been paid to do so, potentially by billionaire philanthropist George Soros.
The president said he had no doubt that Ford, a California professor, had named the wrong person as her assailant in an attack she said took place while she and Kavanaugh were in high school.
“There’s no-one with a squeaky clean past like Brett Kavanaugh,” Trump said. “I’m very honored to have chosen him.”
Earlier, outside the White House, Trump said that he feels “very strongly that, in the end, maybe the process was really unattractive, but the extra week was something that I think was really good.” That was in reference to the additional FBI investigation taken before the Senate pressed ahead on the nominee. “A lot of very positive things happened in the last week. It didn’t look that way, but in the end that’s what happened.”
Trump, who campaigned on the promise of appointing conservative judges, can celebrate helping to create a decisive conservative majority on the top court in decades as Kavanaugh joins the president’s first pick, Associate Justice Neil Gorsuch.
The president also had kind words for Senator Susan Collins, the Maine Republican whose vote hung in the balance until Friday, when she announced she would back the nominee during a 44-minute speech on the Senate floor.
“I thought that Susan was incredible yesterday,” Trump said at the White House, applauding her for being a hard worker. “She didn’t stop, and I know for a fact, because I spoke with her. She didn’t stop.”
Trump will rally in Kansas in support of two Republican candidates: Kris Kobach, an ally who’s running for governor, and Steve Watkins, the nominee for the state’s 2nd Congressional District.
Kansas hasn’t elected a Democrat to Congress in over a decade. In what some forecast to be a Democratic wave election in November, the nonpartisan Cook Political Report rates one of the state’s four House seats a tossup and another as leaning Democratic.