Trump says Dems using ‘con game’ to sink Kavanaugh court bid |

Trump says Dems using ‘con game’ to sink Kavanaugh court bid

The Associated Press
President Donald Trump answers a reporters question about Supreme Court Justice nominee Brett Kavanaugh during a meeting with Colombian President Ivan Duque at the United Nations General Assembly, Tuesday, Sept. 25, 2018, at U.N. Headquarters. (AP Photo/Evan Vucci)
Brett Kavanaugh, with his wife Ashley Estes Kavanaugh, answers questions during a FOX News interview, Monday, Sept. 24, 2018, in Washington, about allegations of sexual misconduct against the Supreme Court nominee. (AP Photo/Jacquelyn Martin)
Brett Kavanaugh looks at his wife Ashley Estes Kavanaugh at the start of a FOX News interview with Martha MacCallum, Monday, Sept. 24, 2018, in Washington, about allegations of sexual misconduct against the Supreme Court nominee. (AP Photo/Jacquelyn Martin)
Linda Sarsour signals for quiet as activists opposed to President Donald Trump’s embattled Supreme Court nominee, Brett Kavanaugh, demonstrate before being arrested, on Capitol Hill in Washington, Monday, Sept. 24, 2018. Trump is staunchly defending Kavanaugh against a new allegation of sexual misconduct, calling the accusations “totally political.” (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite)
Protesters march from the Supreme Court to Hart Senate Office Building on Capitol Hill in Washington, Monday, Sept. 24, 2018. A second allegation of sexual misconduct has emerged against Judge Brett Kavanaugh, a development that has further imperiled his nomination to the Supreme Court, forced the White House and Senate Republicans onto the defensive and fueled calls from Democrats to postpone further action on his confirmation. President Donald Trump is so far standing by his nominee. (AP Photo/Carolyn Kaster)
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., returns to his office after speaking on the Senate floor about Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh on Capitol Hill in Washington, Monday, Sept. 24, 2018. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite)

WASHINGTON — President Donald Trump accused Democrats on Tuesday of using a “con game” to try scuttling Brett Kavanaugh’s Supreme Court nomination and disparaged the account of the second woman accusing Kavanaugh of sexual misconduct, saying she herself conceded she was “totally inebriated and all messed up.”

Trump’s remarks came as Republicans worked to shore up GOP support for the beleaguered Kavanaugh, whose march toward Senate confirmation has been rocked by allegations of decades-old sexual improprieties from two women. On Friday, Trump had mocked claims by Kavanaugh’s chief accuser of a sexual assault at a 1980s high school party, tweeting that 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, Trump has gone further. Most GOP lawmakers have been less acidic in challenging the women’s credibility, mindful of competitive 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, Trump took aim at Deborah Ramirez, Kavanaugh’s second accuser.

She told The New Yorker magazine that at a party both attended as Yale freshmen in the 1980s, a drunken 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,” Trump told reporters. “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.”

Trump called Kavanaugh “just a wonderful human being” and suggested that Democrats were skeptical of Ramirez, saying, “They don’t believe it themselves.” He said rejecting Kavanaugh would be “a horrible insult” and “a very dangerous game” for the U.S.

Trump spoke two days before the Senate Judiciary Committee plans a pivotal, election-season hearing at which both 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 Kavanaugh in which a split-second facial expression, a tear or a choice of words by either witness could prove decisive.

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

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 Kavanaugh by using decades-old, “vague, unsubstantiated and uncorroborated” claims of sexual misconduct.

“Justice matters. Evidence matters. Facts matter,” said McConnell.

The leader of the chamber’s Democrats fired back, demanding that McConnell apologize to Ford for his assertion that Democrats are using the allegations to wage a smear campaign against the nominee.

Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., said McConnell’s comment “demeans many, many women” who have gone public with sexual harassment accusations, saying, “They’re doing a noble thing.”

No. 2 Senate Democratic leader Richard Durbin of Illinois said by detailing the alleged 1980s incident when she and Kavanaugh were high schoolers, Ford exposed herself to ridicule and attack “even by the president of the United States in his tweets.”

On the Senate floor, McConnell tried undermining Kavanaugh’s accusers’ stories but also focused on the need to treat Kavanaugh fairly.

“Vague, unsubstantiated, and uncorroborated allegations of 30-plus-year-old misconduct, where all the supposed witnesses either totally deny it or can’t confirm it, is nowhere near grounds to nullify someone’s career or destroy their good name,” McConnell said.

Despite the forceful rhetoric and solid Kavanaugh support by most Republicans, his backing from several GOP senators was unclear, including Sens. Susan Collins of Maine, Arizona’s Jeff Flake and Alaska’s Lisa Murkowski. With the GOP’s Senate control hanging on a razor-thin 51-49 margin, defections by any two Republican senators would seal his fate if all Democrats vote “no.”

Asked Tuesday if there should be a fresh FBI background investigation of Kavanaugh, Murkowski said, “Well, it would sure clear up all the questions, wouldn’t it?” Democrats have repeatedly demanded a renewed FBI probe, but that’s been rejected by Trump and Republicans. Collins said she remained undecided about Kavanaugh.

One frequent Trump critic, Sen. Bob Corker, R-Tenn., was clearly leaning toward Kavanaugh.

“I go into the hearings with very positive feelings about him, and I hope Thursday goes well,” Corker told reporters.

Besides the allegations themselves, both parties must assess how the nomination fight is playing six weeks before an Election Day when Democrats could capture control of Congress. With all 11 GOP Judiciary committee members male, Republicans have hired a female attorney who would question Ford for them, said a GOP aide who was not authorized to publicly discuss the matter.

On Monday, Ford advisers wrote to Judiciary committee chairman Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa., complaining that GOP staff had told them of the hiring of an unnamed “experienced sex crimes prosecutor” to interrogate Ford and requested a meeting with “her.”

“This is not a criminal trial for which the involvement of an experienced sex crimes prosecutor would be appropriate,” wrote Ford adviser Michael Bromwich.

In a Fox News interview Monday night, Kavanaugh said he would not let “false accusations drive me out of this process.” Agreeing to a television interview was an extraordinary step for a high court nominee.

Kavanaugh said on the conservative-friendly Fox News Channel that he wasn’t questioning that Ford, his initial accuser, may have been sexually assaulted in her life. But he added, “What I know is I’ve never sexually assaulted anyone,” a remarkable assertion for a nominee to the nation’s highest court.

TribLIVE commenting policy

You are solely responsible for your comments and by using you agree to our Terms of Service.

We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.

While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.

We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers

We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.

We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.

We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.

We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.