Senate Republicans Think Kavanaugh's Confirmation Will Happen Even Despite The Allegation
Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh's confirmation hearings have been rocked by an allegation that he sexually assaulted an acquaintance, Christine Ford, when the two were teenagers. But Trump's latest pick for the high court denies the accusation — and Senate Republicans think Kavanaugh's confirmation will go off without a hitch regardless of Ford's claim.
The GOP is determined to get Kavanaugh confirmed before the midterm elections, but Ford's accusation has thrown a wrench into the confirmation hearing process. Ford says that when she was 15, Kavanaugh pinned her to a bed at a party, groped her, attempted to remove her clothes, and pressed his hand against her mouth when she tried to scream. Although Kavanaugh denies the allegation, the Senate Judiciary Committee has been in talks with Ford to have her testify before Kavanaugh's nomination comes up for a vote.
But it's unclear whether or not that testimony will ultimately take place. Meanwhile, Republicans appear highly confident that, regardless of whether Ford testifies or what she says if she does, Kavanaugh will be confirmed.
"In the very near future, Judge Kavanaugh will be on the United States Supreme Court,” Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said at the Value Voters Summit, a conference for conservative activists, on Friday. "Don’t get rattled by all of this. We’re going to plow right through it and do our job."
It's significant that McConnell, as opposed to any other Senate Republican, has expressed this much confidence about Kavanaugh's prospects, because as majority leader, he's the one who decides if and when to put the nomination up for a vote. His pledge to "plow right through" the controversy strongly suggests that he won't be slowing down the confirmation process on account of Ford's accusation.
McConnell isn't the only Republican signaling confidence about Kavanaugh's prospects. At a campaign event Friday, Vice President Mike Pence said that he thinks Kavanaugh will soon be confirmed as well.
"I believe with all my heart that very soon, Judge Brett Kavanaugh will be Justice Brett Kavanaugh, and he will take his seat on the Supreme Court of the United States of America," Pence said while campaigning for for Rep. Marsha Blackburn at the American Conservative Union Foundation on Friday.
Many Republicans, including President Trump, have dismissed or otherwise cast doubt on Ford. Sen. Lindsey Graham accused her of participating in a "drive-by-shooting" of Kavanaugh, and said that although he'll "listen to the lady" Republicans are "going to bring this to a close." HUD Secretary Ben Carson claimed that Ford's accusation is actually part of a centuries-old socialist plot to take over America, while Republican operative Ed Whelan argued that Ford was misremembering who allegedly assaulted her.
On Twitter, Trump demanded that Ford present evidence that she filed charges against Kavanaugh after the assault, which he claimed she would have done if the alleged assault was "as bad as she says." Ford never claimed to have filed charges against Kavanaugh, however, and there are many reasons why sexual assault survivors often don't go public with their claims until years after the fact.