WASHINGTON — With the FBI beginning its probe into sexual assault allegations Friday, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) said today that the upper chamber will cast a vote on Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh this week.
McConnell referred to a memo from Arizona prosecutor Rachel Mitchell, who told Judiciary Committee members after being brought in to question Christine Blasey Ford at Thursday’s hearing that “I do not think that a reasonable prosecutor would bring this case based on the evidence before the committee.”
He added that he’s not “optimistic” Democrats “will stay consistent and accept the conclusions of the supplemental background investigation the FBI is now conducting.”
“The Democratic Leader and the ranking Democrat on the Committee both said recently that an FBI investigation can be completed in less than a week,” he said on the Senate floor. “But I’d bet almost anything that — after it runs its course in the next few days — we will then be treated to a lecture that anything short of a totally unbounded fishing expedition of indefinite duration is too limited, or too arbitrary, or somehow insufficient. We all know that’s coming.”
McConnell charged that Democrats “just want to delay this matter past the election.”
“Maybe we’ll hear that the real issue is not these uncorroborated allegations of misconduct, after all. But rather the fact that Judge Kavanaugh – now listen to this – drank beer in high school and college. Or the fact that he was rightfully angry – who wouldn’t be – that his good name and his family have been dragged through the mud with a campaign of character assassination based on allegations that lack any corroboration. Who wouldn’t be angry about that?” he said. “Their goalposts keep shifting — but their goal has not moved an inch.”
The GOP leader declared that “we’ll be voting this week.”
Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) said on the floor that Democrats have been demanding to find out the full parameters of the FBI probe. “Show us what White House Counsel Don McGahn has instructed the FBI,” he said. “…Democratic staffers asked the Republican majority staff to get on the phone with Counsel McGahn to discuss what should be the parameters, and they were told ‘forget it.’”
“Whether you are for or against Judge Kavanaugh going to the Supreme Court, it will only benefit the country if the investigation is regarded as fair, clear, and not constrained, particularly by partisan means. For that reason, we hope the FBI will be available to brief the Senate on the results of the investigation before a final floor vote,” Schumer said. “Democrats are not interested in delay for the sake of delay. This can all be completed quickly, but it must be done right.”
“We are a society based on the rule of law. It is therefore crucial the American people have faith in the judiciary, especially the Supreme Court. Our job as senators is to decide if someone has the intelligence, the temperament, the independence, and the credibility to earn the title of ‘justice’ for a lifetime. Character matters. Character matters deeply.”
Schumer said Kavanaugh’s “partisan screed” and harboring of “deep, deep partisan resentments” at last week’s hearing raises concerns about his ability to be independent, and said the question of credibility was answered when Kavanaugh “gave answers about his yearbook page, supposed drinking games, and high school behavior that simply defy credulity.”
“In my experience with Judge Kavanaugh, in 2004, 2006, and again throughout this process, I have been left with the impression that Judge Kavanaugh would dissemble, mislead, even prevaricate senators about everything from the momentous to the mundane, whatever it takes to cast his nomination in the most favorable light,” he added.
President Trump defended Kavanaugh at a Rose Garden press conference today, but added that he “was surprised at how vocal he was about the fact that he likes beer.”
“And he’s had a little bit of difficulty. I mean, he talked about things that happened when he drank. I mean, this is not a man that said that alcohol was — that he was perfect with respect to alcohol. No, I thought he was actually — going back so many years, I thought he was excellent,” Trump said. “The interesting thing is, though, nobody asked him about what’s happened in the last 25 years, 30 years, during his professional career. Because I — there were no bad reports. I mean, there are bad reports on everybody in here. Most of the people sitting down, there are bad — except for Mike Pence, by the way.”
Trump stressed how he was not a drinker, adding that if he liked alcohol, “Can you imagine if I had what a mess I’d be?”
“But I can tell you, I watched that hearing and I watched a man saying that he did have difficulty as a young man with drink,” he added. “The one question I didn’t ask is how about the last 20 years? Have you had difficulty the last 20 years? Because nobody said anything bad about him in many, many years.”