President Donald Trump attacked a second woman who accused Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh of sexual misconduct, calling her “all messed up” and “totally inebriated” at the time of the alleged incident during their college years.
Trump dismissed allegations made by Deborah Ramirez in the New Yorker magazine as “a con game” by Democrats in remarks to reporters Tuesday during a meeting with Colombian President Ivan Duque Marquez at the United Nations. Trump said the Senate must confirm Kavanaugh to protect the integrity of judicial nominations.
It would be a “horrible insult to our country” and “a horrible, horrible thing for future political people, judges” if the Senate doesn’t confirm Kavanaugh, Trump said. “The second accuser has nothing. The second accuser thinks maybe it could have been him, maybe not.”
The Senate Judiciary Committee plans a Thursday hearing on sexual misconduct allegations against Kavanaugh that will include the nominee along with his principal accuser, Christine Blasey Ford, who alleges sexual assault during high school.
Trump’s comments came as Republicans are trying to save Kavanaugh’s nomination, with Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell of Kentucky promising he will get a floor vote soon.
The second accusation against Kavanaugh was reported by the New Yorker and dates to the 1983-84 academic school year, when Kavanaugh was a freshman at Yale University. Ramirez, who was also a Yale freshman at the time, said Kavanaugh exposed himself to her during a dormitory party that involved drinking.
The New Yorker said Ramirez had hesitated to speak publicly, partly because she had been drinking at the time of the alleged episode and there were “gaps” in her memory. She decided to come forward after “assessing her memories” and consulting with her lawyer, the magazine said.
Trump said Tuesday: “She says, ‘Well it might not be him’ and there were gaps and she said she was totally inebriated and all messed up and she doesn’t know it was him. And it might have been him. Oh gee, let’s not make him a Supreme Court judge because of that?”
Trump’s comments came hours after White House spokeswoman Sarah Huckabee Sanders said the Trump administration is “open” to the Senate Judiciary Committee hearing testimony from Ramirez.
‘Let Them Speak’
Sanders, speaking on ABC’s “Good Morning America” on Tuesday, didn’t specify whether the White House would support a public or private hearing involving Ramirez.
“Certainly we would be open to that, and that process could take place on Thursday,” Sanders said. “The president has been clear — let them speak.”
The Judiciary panel has announced no plans to hear publicly from Ramirez. Instead, bipartisan Judiciary Committee staff will seek to interview Ramirez privately about her allegation, said Senator John Cornyn of Texas, the second-ranking Republican.
McConnell on Tuesday continued to defend Kavanaugh.
“No matter how loudly my Democratic colleagues try to say otherwise,” McConnell said on the Senate floor on Tuesday, “we have never been and do not wish to be a society in which a single uncorroborated allegation can float out across decades and wield veto power over somebody’s life.”
‘Respect These Women’
Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer of New York called on McConnell to apologize to Ford for calling her allegations a “smear” on Monday. “We must respect these women and judge Kavanaugh by handling these allegations with seriousness,” Schumer said on the Senate floor.
Kavanaugh appeared on Fox News on Monday to refute the allegations against him. Defiant and sometimes emotional, Kavanaugh said that he “never sexually assaulted anyone,” defending himself against allegations that threaten to unravel his confirmation.
Kavanaugh, interviewed with his wife, said Trump called him Monday afternoon “and he said he’s standing by me.” Kavanaugh insisted that he’s not withdrawing his nomination and said, “I want a fair process where I can defend my integrity.”
The interview gave Kavanaugh a chance to make his case in advance of Thursday’s hearing. Ford says Kavanaugh sexually assaulted her during a Maryland house party when they were in high school.
“I was never at any such party,” he said on Fox News. He said he may have met Ford, who went to a different school, but he added, “We did not travel in the same social circle. She was not a friend, not someone I knew.”
At least one senior member of the panel, GOP Senator Orrin Hatch of Utah, called Ramirez’s allegation “phony.” Asked by reporters Monday why he thinks that, Hatch responded, “Because I know it is, that’s why.”
Hatch, a strong Kavanaugh backer, told reporters he expects the committee to vote on confirmation by the end of the week. It’s not clear how soon a vote by the full Senate would follow. The Supreme Court begins its new term on Oct. 1.
The new allegations raised broader questions about a nominee whose confirmation seemed all but certain two weeks ago.
Seating Kavanaugh on the nation’s top court — or not seating him — could affect the fight for control of Congress in the Nov. 6 election. Republicans are looking for Kavanaugh to cement a conservative majority on the court, while Democrats say he could provide the fifth vote to overturn the Roe v. Wade decision that legalized abortion.
Ford, a California college professor, alleges that Kavanaugh pinned her down and tried to remove her clothes at a party three decades ago.
Kavanaugh told Fox News, “I am not questioning and have not questioned that perhaps Dr. Ford at some point in her life was sexually assaulted by someone at some place, but what I know is I’ve never sexually assaulted anyone.”
He said other allegations by lawyer Michael Avenatti were “totally false and outrageous.” Kavanaugh he didn’t have “anything close to sexual intercourse in high school or for many years thereafter.”
Avenatti, the lawyer for adult film star Stephanie Clifford, who says she had an affair with Trump before he was elected president, said on Twitter that he represents a woman “with credible information regarding Judge Kavanaugh.” Avenatti, who has said he’s considering running for president as a Democrat, said his client isn’t Ramirez.