The Slatest

Senate Republicans Shrug Off New Allegation, Promise Kavanaugh Vote in “Near Future”

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) leaves the Senate floor and heads to his office on Capitol Hill, September 24, 2018 in Washington,
Mitch McConnell is promising Brett Kavanaugh will get a vote “in the near future.”
Drew Angerer/Getty Images

The partisan battle lines over Brett Kavanaugh’s nomination are now starker than ever following the second allegation of sexual misconduct against President Trump’s Supreme Court nominee. Democrats are demanding that a vote on his confirmation be put on hold for as long as it takes for the FBI to properly investigate the claims; Republicans are shrugging the whole thing off as a partisan ploy and vowing to push forward with a vote as planned.

“I want to be perfectly clear what is taking place,” Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said on the Senate floor Monday afternoon. “Senate Democrats and their allies are trying to destroy a man’s personal and professional life on the basis of decades-old allegations that are unsubstantiated and uncoordinated. That is where we are. 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.” McConnell added: “This fine nominee will receive a vote, in the Senate, in the near future.”

Utah Sen. Sen. Orrin Hatch, a former Republican chairman of the Judiciary Committee and a current member of the panel, made the GOP’s agenda explicit in a tweet earlier Monday: “We should hear from Dr. [Christine Blasey] Ford on Thursday as planned. Then we should vote.”

President Trump earlier in the day described Kavanaugh as “a man with an unblemished past” and dismissed Deborah Ramirez’s claim—that Kavanaugh had exposed his penis to her during a drunken dormitory party during their first year at Yale—as “totally political.” Shortly after Hatch weighed in, Kavanaugh released his own statement dismissing the allegations much the same way Senate Republicans and the White House had.

“There is now a frenzy to come up with something—anything—that will block this process and a vote on my confirmation from occurring,” Kavanaugh said in a letter to the Senate that was also made public. “The coordinated effort to destroy my good name will not drive me out. The vile threats of violence against my family will not drive me out. The last-minute character assassination will not succeed.” Earlier Monday, White House counselor Kellyanne Conway had also suggested the timing of the accusations were a coordinated effort. “This is starting to feel like a vast left-wing conspiracy,” she told CBS.

Democrats, meanwhile, stepped up their defense both of Ford, who claims that Kavanaugh sexually assaulted her during high school, and of Ramirez, who detailed her claim to the New Yorker. While the GOP buzzwords were smear campaign and character assassination, a number of Democrats were pushing the hashtag #BelieveSurvivors.

Sen. Dianne Feinstein, the top Democrat on the judiciary panel, was the first on Sunday to call for “an immediate postponement of any further proceedings” following the new allegation. Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer then joined the Democratic chorus on Monday afternoon in his first public comments since the second allegation was made public.

“There is only one way to get to the bottom of these allegations against Judge Kavanaugh and prevent the nation from being thrown into further turmoil: an independent background check investigation by the FBI,” Schumer tweeted. “If President Trump and Senate Republicans are so certain the allegations against Judge Kavanaugh aren’t true, then why are they blocking the FBI from reopening the background check and investigating—a routine practice for judicial nominees? What are they hiding?”

Kavanaugh and Ford are both still scheduled to appear before the Senate Judiciary Committee on Thursday. As the polarization deepens, anything could happen between now and then.