President Donald Trump on Tuesday responded to the fast moving developments in the Senate response to allegations that his Supreme Court nominee, Brett Kavanaugh, sexually assaulted a woman, Christine Blasey Ford, when he was in high school.
“I feel so badly for him that he’s going through this,” Trump said at a White House press conference with Polish President Andrzej Duda. “This is not a man that deserves this.”
Ford alleges that Kavanaugh shut her in a room at a party, pinned her down and tried to remove her clothes. In an account first detailed by The Washington Post, Ford said that as Kavanaugh held his hand over her mouth to muffle her screams, she feared he would “inadvertently kill me.”
Trump on Tuesday chose to focus on the wrong he felt had been done to Kavanaugh, however. “I feel terribly for him, for his wife who is an incredible lovely woman and his beautiful young daughters,” said the president.
Trump said earlier that despite his sympathy for Kavanaugh, it was important to follow through with a process that wuld offer both Kavanaugh and Ford a chance to testify.
“It’s a process, and we all feel, speaking for all Republicans, we want to go through this process, and we want to give everyone a chance to say what they have to say,” Trump said earlier in the day.
“We will delay the process until it’s finished out,” Trump said.”We want to get to the bottom of everything. We want everybody to be able to speak up and speak out.”
In the Oval Office earlier Trump had said that the FBI should not be involved further investigating the Kavanaugh allegation because, “they don’t want to be involved. It’s not really their thing.” He reiterated that view at the press conference.
The president has not spoken personally to Kavanaugh in recent days, he said. “I haven’t wanted to speak to Judge Kavanaugh…specifically because I thought it was a good idea not too,” Trump said, adding, “I’m totally supportive, I’m very supportive.”
Kavanaugh’s nomination has been in turmoil since the explosive allegations by Christine Blasey Ford, who said that Kavanaugh sexually assaulted her at a party when they were both teenagers.
Ford’s allegation became public on September 16, just days before the Senate Judiciary Committee was scheduled to vote on Kavanaugh’s confirmation, which had seemed all but assured. But that vote was canceled on Tuesday afternoon.
Kavanaugh has categorically denied Ford’s detailed account of the incident, which was published on Sunday by The Washington Post. “This is a completely false allegation. I have never done anything like what the accuser describes—to her or to anyone,” Kavanagh said in a statement released Monday by the White House.
Ford’s allegation, first detailed by The Washington Post, sent Republicans at both ends of Pennsylvania Avenue scrambling on Monday to find a way to avoid holding a televised public hearing.
But it became clear by Monday afternoon that Kavanaugh would not have the votes he needed to be confirmed unless senators were satisfied that Ford had been given an opportunity to testify. The hearing, scheduled for Monday, September 24, is to feature testimony from both Kavanaugh and Ford.
Senate Judiciary Chairman Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa, said that as of noon on Tuesday, Kavanaugh had accepted the invitation to testify, but Ford had yet to accept.