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Trump attacks second Judge Kavanaugh accuser

The Washington Post

September 25. 2018 8:48PM
Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh at his Senate Judiciary Committee confirmation hearing in Washington on Sept. 4. (Bloomberg photo by Andrew Harrer.)

WASHINGTON — President Donald Trump on Tuesday attacked the second woman who has accused Judge Brett Kavanaugh of sexual misconduct, dismissing her account because she was “totally inebriated and all messed up,” and accused Democrats of playing a “con game” in an attempt to derail his Supreme Court nominee.

In comments to reporters following a speech at the United Nations, Trump took aim at Deborah Ramirez, a classmate of Kavanaugh’s at Yale University, who told the New Yorker magazine that said he exposed himself to her at a party when they were both first-year students.

“The second accuser has nothing,” Trump told reporters. “The second accuser thinks maybe it could have been him, maybe not. She admits she was drunk. She admits time lapses.”

The President dismissed the notion that the allegation could be disqualifying, saying sarcastically: “Oh, gee, let’s not make him a Supreme Court judge because of that.”

Kavanaugh has denied the allegation as well as Christine Blasey Ford’s accusation that he sexually assaulted her when they were high school students in Maryland.

Trump blamed the accusations, which arose late during the confirmation process, on Democrats.

“I think it is horrible what the Democrats have done,” he said. “It is a con game, they are really con artists.”

Trump’s latest comments came amid growing acrimony among Democratic and Republican senators as they prepare for a high-stakes Senate Judiciary Committee hearing on Thursday featuring testimony from Ford, a professor in California, and Kavanaugh.

Republicans are aware of the hearing’s optics six weeks before midterm elections, in which energized female voters will have a major say in deciding which party controls the House and Senate.

Given that all 11 GOP members of the committee are men, Republicans have picked a female outside counsel to question Ford. Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Charles Grassley, R-Iowa, told reporters Tuesday that a lawyer had been hired, but that her name was not being announced because of concerns about her safety.

In 1991, the all-male committee’s questioning of Anita Hill about her allegations of sexual impropriety against Clarence Thomas angered female voters, who elected dozens of women in November 1992.

“We’ve done it because we want to depoliticize the whole process, like the Democrats politicized the Anita Hill thing,” said Grassley, who was on the Judiciary Committee in 1991. “The whole point is to create an environment where it’s what Dr. Ford has asked for, to be professional and to not be a circus.”

Sen. Orrin Hatch, R-Utah, a member of the committee, said he expected that the lawyer would conduct all questioning of Ford, “although I’m very capable of doing it.” Sen. John Neely Kennedy, R-La., said he would “reserve the right” to question Ford.

In a speech on the Senate floor on Tuesday, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., promised a vote on Kavanaugh’s nomination shortly after the hearing and cast the judge as a victim of “the weaponization of unsubstantiated smears.”

He argued that Democrats have scuttled any presumption of innocence for a distinguished jurist.

Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., responded in unusually personal terms, criticizing McConnell for a promise last week to “plow through” the proceedings despite the drama over Kavanaugh’s accusers.

“Does that sound like someone who’s treating these allegations with respect and fairness and evenhandedness?” Schumer asked. “Does that sound like someone who wants to get the real facts no matter where they fall? Certainly not to me. Not to the American people.”

Schumer also said McConnell had brought the process to “a new low” with a floor speech Monday in which he called the allegations against Kavanaugh a Democratic smear job.

“They were not,” Schumer said, demanding that McConnell apologize to Ford.

The New Yorker reported Sunday that in her initial conversations with the publication, she was reluctant to characterize Kavanaugh’s role in the alleged incident with certainty.

After six days of assessing her memories and consulting with a lawyer, Ramirez said that she felt confident enough of her recollections to say that she remembers Kavanaugh had exposed himself at a drunken dormitory party, thrust his penis in her face, and caused her to touch it without her consent as she pushed him away, the magazine said.

Democrats on the Senate Judiciary Committee huddled Tuesday to talk about where things stand, said Sen. Richard Durbin, D-Ill., who was frustrated by the lack of specifics he has heard from his Republican colleagues.

“There are still many unresolved issues,” Durbin said. “We don’t know who this prosecutor is, if that’s what she is. And we don’t know the procedure in the committee, what the sequence will be. We don’t know how long our questioning period is. It’s all a mystery.”

Asked what Republicans had told him about Thursday’s hearing, Durbin replied dryly: “The table and chairs situation has been resolved.”

Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., another member of the Judiciary Committee, said he was not planning to ask questions in the hearing.

“I’m going to let the professional person do it,” he said, declining to say who that person will be. Graham voiced skepticism about the accusations Kavanaugh faces and said he worried about the precedent the allegations would set.

“Let’s put it this way: If this is enough — 35 years in the past, no specifics about location and time, no corroboration — God help the next batch of nominees that come through,” Graham said.

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