Sasse offers support for #MeToo movement in emotional floor speech; Fischer says she’s ‘a yes vote’
As senators awaited the latest FBI background report on Judge Brett Kavanaugh, Sen. Deb Fischer said she intends to vote for confirmation of Kavanaugh’s nomination to a seat on the U.S. Supreme Court when the issue comes before the Senate on Friday.
“I’ve made my position very clear,” Fischer said during a Tuesday interview by Coby Mach on his “Drive Time” radio show on KLIN radio.
“I’m a yes vote for Judge Kavanaugh,” Fischer said.
In Washington, The Associated Press reported that protesters shouted at Fischer on the way in and out of a hearing Wednesday as pressure mounted on Republicans, especially women senators, who will be asked to vote for Kavanaugh’s Supreme Court nomination.
Ben Sasse, Nebraska’s junior senator who last week voted to advance Kavanaugh’s nomination from the Judiciary Committee, stepped to the microphone on the Senate floor late Wednesday and delivered an emotional speech supportive of the #MeToo movement and critical of President Donald Trump’s rhetoric at a rally Tuesday night.
In his Senate floor speech, Sasse said he had encouraged Trump this summer to nominate a woman to the Supreme Court.
“Part of my argument then was that the very important #MeToo movement was also very new and that this Senate is not at all well prepared to handle potential allegations of sexual harassment and assault,” Sasse said, according to a report by The Hill.
Tuesday night, Trump ridiculed Christine Blasey Ford, who accuses his nominee of sexually assaulting her in high school — a claim Kavanaugh denies.
The crowd at a Mississippi rally laughed as Trump mimicked Ford’s testimony that Kavanaugh clamped a hand over her mouth and groped her in a bedroom.
A trio of GOP senators — Susan Collins of Maine, Lisa Murkowski of Alaska and Jeff Flake of Arizona — on Wednesday blasted the president’s comments as “wrong,” ″inappropriate” and “appalling.” But while the FBI is investigating, they’re not saying how they’ll vote on Kavanaugh’s confirmation.
None of the three is up for re-election. But Fischer, who faces Democrat Jane Raybould in November, is the target of a $243,000 TV ad buy from the ACLU in the Lincoln and Omaha markets.
Fischer tweeted that the ACLU should “save some money by dropping their ad” urging the senator to oppose the nomination.
“I would challenge Senator Fischer to say directly that ‘I believe 100 percent of what Judge Kavanaugh has said,’” ACLU national political director Faiz Shakir said.
“All of us have some degree of doubt about his integrity at this juncture,” he said. “We should have no doubt about the integrity of the individual who sits on the U.S. Supreme Court.”
Fischer said the Judiciary Committee hearing into Ford’s allegation of sexual assault by Kavanaugh during his high school days was “kind of a dark day for the Senate.”
“What bothers me is how this has been handled in the Senate,” she said in the radio interview, suggesting that neither Ford nor Kavanaugh has been treated with respect during the process.
Senators need to treat witnesses, as well as one another, with respect, Fischer said.
While Fischer described Ford as “a sincere woman who gave very sincere testimony,” she said Ford was treated with “a lack of respect” by those who leaked her name to the news media after she had requested that her identification be kept private.
“Her wishes were disrespected,” Fischer said.
There has been no corroboration of her testimony, the senator said, and “I assume we’ll hear the same thing” when the FBI report is submitted to members of the Senate early Thursday morning.
Late Wednesday, the national women’s group Ultra Violet Action released a letter to Fischer signed by six survivors of sexual assault from Nebraska.
“If you vote to confirm Kavanaugh, you are sending a clear and devastating message to millions of survivors that what happened to us doesn’t matter, and that a man who sexually abuses women can still win a seat on the highest court in the country,” the letter reads.
Sasse, in his comments on the Senate floor, referenced a talk he had this week with a sexual assault survivor from Nebraska. The country, he said, needs a “reckoning” for its epidemic of sexual assaults.
“My view is that the #MeToo movement is going to make some mistakes, it’s going to have some excesses, but overall it’s been an important and a needed development,” Sasse said, according to The Hill.
“Their stories are not fodder for fundraising emails,” he added. “The #MeToo movement doesn’t belong to the left or the right.”