The Slatest

Christine Blasey Ford’s Testimony Didn’t Move Lindsey Graham—It Angered Him

Sen. Lindsey O. Graham (R-S.C.) at the Senate Judiciary Committee hearing on September 27, 2018.
Sen. Lindsey O. Graham (R-S.C.) at the Senate Judiciary Committee hearing on September 27, 2018. Pool/Getty Images

Republican reaction during and after Christine Blasey Ford’s testimony to the Senate Judiciary Committee on Thursday was largely mixed, with a number of GOP senators urging a wait-and-see approach until after Brett Kavanaugh appears before the panel on Thursday afternoon. One notable exception: Sen. Lindsey Graham, who reportedly is eyeing the judiciary gavel next year.

Graham, like his fellow Republicans on the judiciary panel, ceded his time to Rachel Mitchell, a veteran sex crimes prosecutor the GOP had flown in to lead the questioning. But the South Carolina senator made up for lost time after Ford finished, unleashing a four-plus minute screed in front of reporters during which he suggested the hearing was a political charade orchestrated by Democrats to prevent Kavanaugh—or any other Donald Trump nominee—from making it to the high court. “All I can say is that we’re 40 something days away from the election, and their goal—not Miss Ford’s goal—is to lay this past the midterms so they can win the Senate and never allow Trump to fill the seat,” Graham said.

“When it comes to where it happened, I still don’t know,” Graham continued. “I don’t know when it happened. She said she’s 100-percent certain it did happen. I bet you Judge Kavanaugh [says] ‘I’m 100-percent sure I didn’t do it.’ The people named say they don’t know what she’s talking about. She can’t tell us how she got home and got there. That’s the facts I’m left with—a nice lady who has come forward to tell a hard story that’s uncorroborated. And [if] this is enough, God help anybody else that gets nominated.”

Graham repeatedly took issue with a variety of things he said Ford was unable to explain during her testimony—some of which she and her lawyers did indeed detail. “I don’t know who paid for her polygraph but somebody did,” Graham said, a few hours after her lawyers told the panel that they had paid for the polygraph. “She can’t tell me the house, she can’t tell me the city, she can’t tell me the month of the year,” Graham added, ignoring that Ford says the assault occurred in suburban Montgomery County and that she also suggested Thursday she’d be able to better pinpoint the timing of the incident if someone would just interview Mark Judge. (Ford says Judge was in the room when she was assaulted and that she remembers seeing him working at the Potomac Village Safeway in the days that followed. The dates of Judge’s employment, then, are crucial. Republicans refused Democrats’ calls to have Judge testify.)

And what did Graham think of Ford more generally? “Very Competent, accomplished lady,” Graham declared. “Something happened. I don’t know what. But you’re asking me to say it was Brett Kavanaugh and I don’t know when it happened, where it happened, and he said it didn’t happen. But I will say this: I thought it was a good suggestion for her to talk to somebody to work through this.”

That was not the only time Graham suggested on Thursday that a woman claiming she was sexually assaulted should talk to someone who is not in the U.S. Senate.