Politics

McConnell Decries ‘Smears’ Against Kavanaugh, Vows Full Senate Vote

Republican leader digs in, characterizes Democrats' blizzard of attacks on Supreme Court nominee as character assassination

Image Credit: MANDEL NGAN/AFP/Getty Images & Mark Wilson/Getty Images

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) offered a forceful defense of Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh on the Senate floor Monday, decrying a “smear campaign” launched by Democrats.

McConnell’s speech and President Donald Trump’s uncompromising declaration of support earlier in the day appeared to douse any thought Republicans might abandon Kavanaugh in the wake of a second allegation of sexual assault from his teenage years.

“I want to make it perfectly clear … Judge Kavanaugh will be voted on here on the Senate floor — up or down — on the Senate floor,” he said. “This fine nominee to the Supreme Court will receive a vote, in the Senate, in the near future.”

McConnell (pictured above right) used the word “smear” or “smears” no fewer than seven times during his brief address.

“This is what the so-called resistance has become — a smear campaign, pure and simple, aided and abetted by members of the United States Senate,” he said.

Christine Blasey Ford, the first woman to accuse Kavanaugh (pictured above left) of misconduct, also dug in on Monday.

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“While I am frightened, please know, my fear will not hold me back from testifying and you will be provided with answers to all of your questions,” she wrote in a letter to Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Sen. Charles Grassley (R-Iowa). “I ask for fair and respectful treatment.”

Ford, a clinical psychology professor at Palo Alto University in California, is scheduled to appear before the committee on Thursday to describe under oath her allegation that a drunken Kavanaugh pinned her against a bed and tried to remove her clothes at a party when both were in high school in the early 1980s.

The White House has shown no sign of wavering in its support of Kavanaugh, who is a judge on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit. Trump doubled down Monday despite a New Yorker story reporting allegations by a Yale University classmate of Kavanaugh’s.

The second accuser, Deborah Ramirez, told the magazine that Kavanaugh put his penis in her face while she was drunk and lying on the floor semi-conscious during a wild dorm party.

McConnell said his Democratic colleagues already made up their minds about Kavanaugh “before they’d reviewed a lick of evidence, before they’d heard a minute of testimony.”

He added: “Democrats had already made up their mind and chose their tactics — delay, obstruct and resist. Whatever it took. Whatever the truth really was, they were going to do whatever they could to stop this qualified, experienced and mainstream nominee.”

McConnell went after both allegations. He said Democrats sat on Ford’s anonymous letter for seven weeks, refusing to inform their Republican colleagues and conduct a confidential, bipartisan investigation.

As to the allegation, itself, McConnell said it is unsubstantiated.

“This is an allegation of misconduct which all four supposed witnesses either flatly contradict or are unable to back up,” he said. The Ford allegation was “just Act One,” McConnell added.

Related: Fiery Kavanaugh Vows He ‘Will Not Be Intimidated into Withdrawing’

McConnell noted that one of the reporters who wrote the story said Ramirez came forward because Senate Democrats were looking into it. He said Ramirez herself expressed uncertainty over her memory of the incident.

“And now they’re calling for even further delays and further obstruction over a second decades-old allegation that is so thin and so unsupported that The New York Times refused even to run a story about it,” he said. “This claim is so dubious that The New York Times passed on the story entirely after looking into it.”

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