Tuesday 16 October 2018

Democrats accused of using 'a con game' to block Kavanaugh nomination

Questions: Brett Kavanaugh defended himself in an interview this week with Fox News, flanked by his wife Ashley Estes Kavanaugh. Photo: AP
Questions: Brett Kavanaugh defended himself in an interview this week with Fox News, flanked by his wife Ashley Estes Kavanaugh. Photo: AP

Alan Fram

US President Donald Trump accused Democrats of using a "con game" to try scuttle Brett Kavanaugh's Supreme Court nomination and disparaged the account of the second woman accusing Mr Kavanaugh of sexual misconduct.

He said she had herself conceded she had been "totally inebriated and all messed up".

Mr Trump's remarks came as Republicans worked to shore up GOP support for the beleaguered Mr Kavanaugh, whose march toward Senate confirmation has been rocked by allegations of decades-old sexual improprieties from two women. On Friday, Mr Trump had mocked claims by Mr Kavanaugh's chief accuser of a sexual assault at a 1980s high school party, tweeting she would have reported the incident to police if it was "as bad as she says".

While other Republicans have sought to undermine the women's accounts, Mr Trump has gone further. Most GOP lawmakers have been less acidic in challenging the women's credibility, mindful of November elections in which many female voters are already expected to abandon Republican candidates because of hostility toward Trump.

In remarks to reporters at the United Nations, Mr Trump took aim at Deborah Ramirez, Mr Kavanaugh's second accuser.

She told 'The New Yorker' magazine that at a party both attended as Yale freshmen in the 1980s, a drunken Mr Kavanaugh placed his penis in front of her and caused her to involuntarily touch it. She's said she was inebriated as well and has admitted to holes in her memory of some details.

"She said, well, it might not be him, and there were gaps, and she was totally inebriated and all messed up," Mr Trump said. "She doesn't know it was him but it might have been him and 'Oh gee, let's not make him a Supreme Court judge because of that.' This is a con game being played by the Democrats."

Mr Trump called Mr Kavanaugh "just a wonderful human being" and suggested that Democrats were sceptical of Ms Ramirez, saying, "They don't believe it themselves." He said rejecting Mr Kavanaugh would be "a horrible insult" and "a very dangerous game" for the US.

Mr Trump spoke two days before the Senate Judiciary Committee plans a pivotal, election-season hearing at which both Mr Kavanaugh and his chief accuser, Christine Blasey Ford, are due to testify separately. That session, certain to be must-watch television for the nation, looms as a do-or-die wild card for Mr Kavanaugh in which a split-second facial expression, a tear or a choice of words by either witness could prove decisive.

The hearing holds peril for Republicans as well.

Fearful of letting the all-male roster of the panel's GOP majority question Dr Ford, Republicans have hired an outside female attorney to do it.

Dr Ford has said Mr Kavanaugh tried removing her clothes and covered her mouth to prevent screams after he pinned her on a bed during a high school party.

Mr Kavanaugh (53), a judge on the District of Columbia Circuit Court of Appeals, has denied both women's stories.

Earlier, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell accused Democrats of railroading Mr Kavanaugh by using decades-old, "vague, unsubstantiated and uncorroborated" claims of sexual misconduct.

Irish Independent

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