Sen. Rob Portman is ‘disappointed’ Democrats waited to raise Brett Kavanaugh sex abuse claim

September 18, 2018

Sen. Rob Portman is ‘disappointed’ Democrats waited to raise Brett Kavanaugh sex abuse claim

WASHINGTON, D.C. - Ohio Republican Sen. Rob Portman on Tuesday told reporters he’s “deeply disappointed” that Democrats waited until the “eleventh hour” to raise sexual abuse allegations that have sidetracked Brett Kavanaugh’s Supreme Court nomination..

Portman, who knows Kavanaugh well from working with him at the White House during George W. Bush’s presidential administration, said he spoke to Kavanaugh about the allegations raised by California college professor Christine Blasey Ford. He said Kavanaugh did not know what they were about, and described him as “surprised and frustrated” by the situation.

Ford has accused Kavanaugh of drunkenly trying to force himself upon her at a party when both were teenagers in high school.

“This is a tough situation and I think everybody should agree that it is profoundly disappointing this information was withheld,” Portman told reporters on Tuesday. “There was a long and arduous process he had to go through already and it should have been raised. The fact that they didn’t raise it seems odd to me.”

Portman criticized top Senate Judiciary Committee Democrat Dianne Feinstein of California for waiting until September to bring the claims forward when she knew about them in July.

He said next week’s Judiciary Committee hearing where Kavanaugh and Ford will be able to present testimony will give both sides a chance to be heard “in a fair and respectful manner.”

“There were private sessions with him where it could have been brought up on an anonymous basis,” said Portman. “It is not fair to the institution, it is not fair to Judge Kavanaugh and it is not fair to Dr. Ford the way this has been handled.”

At a White House Press conference, President Donald Trump agreed that Feinstein should have brought the matter up with Kavanaugh when she met with him.

“A delay is certainly acceptable,” Trump said. We want to get to the bottom of everything. We want everybody to be able to speak up and speak out. The fact is, though, this should have been done a long time ago.” 

Feinstein said it was Ford’s decision to “come forward publicly.” Democrats on the Judiciary Committee have asked that Kavanaugh’s background investigation be reopened.

“From the outset, I have believed these allegations were extremely serious and bear heavily on Judge Kavanaugh’s character,” said a statement from Feinstein. “However, as we have seen over the past few days, they also come at a price for the victim. I hope the attacks and shaming of her will stop and this will be treated with the seriousness it deserves.”

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