Politics

CNN Panel Explodes Over Kavanaugh Accuser’s ‘Complicity’

John Berman and Rick Santorum have a testy exchange about Christine Blasey Ford — and whether she deserves criticism

CNN anchor John Berman (pictured above left) and former Sen. Rick Santorum (R-Pa., above right) sparred on Friday during a tense segment on “New Day” over whether Christine Blasey Ford shared any “complicity” in her 11th-hour sexual assault allegations against Supreme Court nominee Judge Brett Kavanaugh.

“This was not properly vetted — this was not properly investigated,” lamented Santorum, now a CNN contributor. “[Senate Democrats] could have done a much better job had they looked at this in a serious light, which would have been a serious light had the [Senate Judiciary Committee] been given this and this have been reviewed and even potentially have the FBI take a look at it.”

“But none of that was done,” Santorum continued. “So when you look at how it was handled and the complicity potentially of Ms. Blasey Ford —”

That’s when Berman jumped back in, asking, “Sorry, ‘complicity’?”

“You know, the way this has been handled since, in asking for delays and not necessarily coming forward—”

But Berman cut off Santorum before he could finish.

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“[Ford] first raised this when [Kavanaugh] was a candidate, not even the nominee,” Berman said. “She first went to The Washington Post and her member of Congress before he was a nominee and said, ‘Hey, there’s this person’s name out there, she says he sexually assaulted her 36 years ago.’ Again, he says it did not happen, but she says that. She did that back in July and told her therapist years ago that this happened.”

Ford threw the final days of Kavanaugh’s Senate confirmation process into disarray by publicly accusing him this past Sunday of sexually assaulting her some 36 years ago at a party in Maryland, when they were both teens in high school.

Related: Kavanaugh Accuser Misses Another Deadline on Friday

Although Ford outlined her allegation in a letter sent to Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) in July while wishing to remain anonymous, those charges weren’t aired until just days before Kavanaugh’s since-canceled confirmation vote in the Senate Judiciary Committee.

Kavanaugh denied Ford’s accusations “categorically and unequivocally.” He has maintained he’s “never done anything like what the accuser describes — to her or to anyone.”

Although Kavanaugh agreed to testify before the committee on Monday, Ford has flip-flopped. After initially insisting she was willing to cooperate and testify, Ford declined through her lawyers to testify unless the FBI conducted an investigation.

But Ford’s attorneys opened the door on Thursday to her testifying before the committee on several conditions. Those included that she and Kavanaugh would never be in the room at the same time; that Kavanaugh would testify first; and that no outside counsel — only committee members — would be allowed to question her.

Those conditions are continuing to be reviewed and weighed.

Related: Fox News Host Is ‘Kind of Stunned’ About What Kavanaugh Accuser Is Doing

The CNN segment became tense after Berman asked Santorum to respond to a Friday tweet from President Donald Trump in which he criticized Ford for coming forward so late in the confirmation process.

“I have no doubt that, if the attack on Dr. Ford was as bad as she says, charges would have been immediately filed with local Law Enforcement Authorities by either her or her loving parents. I ask that she bring those filings forward so that we can learn date, time, and place!” Trump tweeted.

Santorum argued that “there’s a lot of frustration out there about how this was all handled” and the way in which the allegation came out.

“It comes out at the last possible minute in a way that was clearly pointed to try to tank this nomination,” Santorum said before mentioning “complicity.”

“I ask that she bring those filings forward so that we can learn date, time, and place!”

Berman retorted, “I am not sure what her complicity is. Once her name leaked, she said, ‘Yes, this happened.’ Complicity?”

“You don’t share this unless you are trying to influence the political process. You don’t come forward unless you are doing so because you want to influence this process,” Santorum argued.

Watch the rest of the testy exchange below:

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