White House press secretary Sarah Sanders accused Democrats on Wednesday of orchestrating a partisan political attack as they pursued sexual assault allegations against U.S. Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh.
“They’re literally trying to undercut the views of the American people when they elected Trump,” Sanders said during her daily press briefing. “They’ve questioned his legitimacy and casually tossed around vicious accusations of perjury. All false and baseless, but now they’ve sunk lower as they sprang these 11th-hour accusations and a full-scale assault on Judge Kavanaugh’s integrity. This is a coordinated smear campaign. No evidence, no independent cooperation, just smears.”
Ford became the first woman publicly to accuse Kavanaugh of sexually assaulting her some 36 years ago, during a high school gathering in suburban Maryland.
Two other women, Deborah Ramirez and Julie Swetnick, came forward in the days following Ford’s September 16 accusation.
“One thing is clear,” Sanders said. “Democrats want to block Kavanaugh and hold the seat open to the 2020 election. This is about politics and this is about power, pure and simple. And they destroyed Judge Kavanaugh’s reputation, undermined Dr. Ford’s privacy and tried to upend our traditions of innocent until proven guilty. It’s a complete and total disgrace.”
Sanders was pressed by reporters during the news conference about President Donald Trump’s comments Tuesday evening, during a Make America Great Again (MAGA) rally in Southaven, Mississippi.
Trump had paraphrased Ford’s Senate testimony, saying, “‘Thirty-six years ago, this happened. I had one beer.’ Well you think it was … ‘No, it was one beer.’ How did you get home? ‘I don’t remember.’ How did you get there? ‘I don’t remember.’
“Democrats want to block Kavanaugh and hold the seat open to the 2020 election. This is about politics and this is about power, pure and simple.”
“Where is the place? ‘I don’t remember.’ How many years ago was it? ‘I don’t remember. I don’t know, I don’t know.’ What neighborhood was it? ‘I don’t know.’ Upstairs, downstairs, where was it? ‘I don’t know. But I only had one beer, that’s the only thing I remember.’”
Sanders said Trump was merely stating facts that were in a memo submitted to the Senate Committee on the Judiciary by Arizona sexual crimes prosecutor Rachel Mitchell, whom Republicans brought on to question Ford during her September 27 testimony.
“I dispute that it was anything except the president stating facts,” Sanders said. “Facts that were laid out in the prosecutor’s memo that she put forward to the Senate. Each of the things he called out were laid out in that memo.”
Sanders said the entire process has been a disgrace because Democrats have subverted it for political gain. Kavanaugh was within a week of his first confirmation vote when the allegations began popping up September 16 even though Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) had known about Ford’s claims since July.
Feinstein, who is the ranking minority member of the judiciary panel, referred the matter to the FBI after Ford’s claims were leaked to the media.
Sanders also called out lawmakers who are dismissing the concept of innocent until proven guilty. She pointed to Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.), who said there is no presumption of innocence, and Sen. Chris Coons (D-Del.), who said the nominee bears the burden of disproving these and other allegations.
Senate Democrats have echoed the calls for the nomination process to be stopped until a federal investigation can be completed. Before the sexual assault allegations, they called for delaying the process because of different issues, such as unfulfilled records requests and legal concerns related to President Donald Trump.
Democrats could potentially improve their chances of stopping Kavanaugh if they’re able to delay a final vote until after the midterm elections. Not only could they get enough votes to block his nomination, but some more moderate lawmakers in red states would also have less pressure on them once the election is past.