Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) confidently declared in a speech last Friday that Brett Kavanaugh would be confirmed to the Supreme Court. But after a second sexual misconduct allegation was leveled against the nominee, things are looking a lot less certain.
Fox News reports that at least four Senate Republicans, and reportedly as many as seven, are currently on the fence about confirming Kavanaugh. The four who are definitely in play are Sen. Susan Collins (R-Maine), Sen. Bob Corker (R-Tenn.), Sen. Jeff Flake (R-Ariz.), and Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska), but there are reportedly three more Republicans who could be swayed in either direction.
To be confirmed, Kavanaugh will need the approval of 50 senators. There are currently 51 Republicans in the Senate, so just two of them breaking from the ranks would dash his confirmation hopes.
Now, it all comes down to Thursday, when both Kavanaugh and one of the two women accusing him of sexual misconduct are expected to testify before Congress. Kavanaugh has denied the allegations. Multiple Senate Republicans told Fox News that they'd vote against Kavanaugh if they heard "something alarming" during Thursday's testimony.
Meanwhile, some of President Trump's allies are beginning to grow more doubtful about Kavanaugh's chances, with Ed Rollins, co-chairman of the pro-Trump Great America PAC, telling The Daily Beast he's got a "fifty-fifty" shot. Brendan Morrow
On Sunday, Deborah Ramirez alleged in an interview with The New Yorker that Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh exposed himself to her at a party while they were both students at Yale University. But rumors of the incident have swirled for months in Yale circles, New Yorker reporter Jane Mayer said Monday.
The timing of the New Yorker's report has invited questions from critics who wondered why the news broke so close to the end of Kavanaugh's confirmation process. But the article's co-author, Jane Mayer, told NPR on Monday that a group of Yale graduates emailed about this alleged incident back in July, after Kavanaugh was nominated by President Trump but before any other sexual misconduct allegations had emerged.
During the course of her reporting, Mayer read these emails, she told NPR. And speaking to the Today show on Monday, she explained, "The story broke overnight [Sunday], but it dates back 35 years." Ramirez didn't come to The New Yorker, Mayer said, but rather "the classmates at Yale were talking to each other about it, they were emailing about it ... and eventually word of it spread. It spread to the Senate. It spread to the media. And we [at The New Yorker] reached out to her."
A participant in that email exchange was one of the individuals mentioned in the New Yorker piece, Mayer said — a classmate who declined to be named but who said that he recalls hearing about the Ramirez incident at the time it happened. He was not actually at the party, but "independently recalled" many of the same details Ramirez provided, per The New Yorker.
Now contending with a second allegation of sexual misconduct, Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh faces an uphill journey to confirmation. But President Trump is standing by his man.
In allegations published in The New Yorker on Sunday, Deborah Ramirez accused Kavanaugh of thrusting his penis into her face at a party while they were both students at Yale University. But the new story has not deterred the president, as Trump told reporters Monday that he still heartily supports Kavanaugh, whom he called a "fine man with an unblemished past."
The allegations, Trump said, are "highly unsubstantiated statements," and the president encouraged reporters to "look into" the lawyers representing the accusers. Last week, California professor Christine Blasey Ford came forward with an allegation of sexual assault against Kavanaugh stemming from a high school party both attended in the 1980s. Kavanaugh has denied both Ford and Ramirez's accusations.
What's happening to Kavanaugh "could be one of the single most unfair, unjust things to happen to a candidate for anything," Trump said, concluding that the allegations are "totally political." Watch his remarks below. Brendan Morrow
At the UN, TRUMP dismisses new Kavanaugh allegations as "totally political": "He's a fine man w/an unblemished past & these are highly unsubstantiated statements from ppl represented by lawyers - you should look into them ...I am with him all the way... I look forward to a vote." pic.twitter.com/etCljNGN1u
— Aaron Rupar (@atrupar) September 24, 2018
Brett Kavanaugh is historically unpopular, and more voters believe Christine Ford, Fox News poll finds
Judge Brett Kavanaugh's Supreme Court nomination wasn't very popular before Christine Blasey Ford's allegation that he tried to rape her in high school in the early 1980s. Now, half of all voters oppose his confirmation while only 40 percent want him elevated to the highest court, according to a new Fox News poll. (In the previous Fox News poll, Aug. 19-21, voters were split, 46 percent opposing, 45 percent in favor.) The 50 percent opposition is the worst number for a Supreme Court nominee in Fox News polling dating back to 2005.
More voters believe Ford, 36 percent, than Kavanaugh, 30 percent, with 34 percent unsure who to believe, the poll found. There is a significant gender gap: Women believe Ford over Kavanaugh by 10 percentage points, and suburban women by 17 points, but men also believe Ford over Kavanaugh by a narrow 1 point. There's also a predictable partisan split, and a stark divide by education level: Voters with college educations believe Ford by a 14-point margin and those without a degree believe Kavanaugh by 17 points.
Support for Kavanaugh has dropped across the board, Fox News' pollsters found: 12 points among independents, 11 points among suburban women, 5 points among men, 4 points among Republicans, 10 points among voters under 45, and 11 points among voters in counties where the 2016 margin between President Trump and Hillary Clinton was 10 points or less.
Democratic polling firm Anderson Robbins Research and GOP pollsters Shaw & Company Research jointly conducted the Fox News poll Sept. 16-19, contacting 1,003 registered voters by phone. The poll has an overall margin of sampling error of ±3 points, and ±4 points for items related to Ford's allegations, polled Sept. 17-19. Peter Weber
Sen. Susan Collins (R-Maine) says she is "appalled" by President Trump's Friday tweet attacking Christine Blasey Ford, the woman who accused Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh of sexual assault, by name, Politico reports. Speaking to reporters in her native Maine, Collins says she "thought that the president's tweet was completely inappropriate and wrong."
Trump's tweets early Friday morning questioned the seriousness of the alleged assault because Ford didn't file charges at the time of the incident. Ford has said she didn't tell anyone about the alleged assault when it happened, but that she did discuss it with a therapist in 2012. Kavanaugh has denied Ford's claims.
Judge Brett Kavanaugh is a fine man, with an impeccable reputation, who is under assault by radical left wing politicians who don’t want to know the answers, they just want to destroy and delay. Facts don’t matter. I go through this with them every single day in D.C.
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) September 21, 2018
I have no doubt that, if the attack on Dr. Ford was as bad as she says, charges would have been immediately filed with local Law Enforcement Authorities by either her or her loving parents. I ask that she bring those filings forward so that we can learn date, time, and place!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) September 21, 2018
Collins is considered to be one of two Republican swing votes, along with Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska), who may break party lines to vote against confirming Kavanaugh, CNBC reports.
Collins has previously spoken out against the president, penning an op-ed before the November 2016 election detailing why she wouldn't vote for Trump. She also notably voted against his effort to repeal ObamaCare. But since Trump took office, Collins has voted in line with his preferences 79.2 percent of the time — including casting a yes vote to send Justice Neil Gorsuch to the bench. Marianne Dodson
Former Vice President Joe Biden still has regrets over the way Anita Hill was treated by the Senate Judiciary Committee.
While speaking to Today on Friday, Biden addressed Christine Ford's sexual assault allegation against Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh, saying that Ford "should not have to go through what Anita Hill went through." Hill accused then-Supreme Court nominee Clarence Thomas of sexual harassment in 1991 and was questioned by the Senate Judiciary Committee. Biden was the chairman of the committee at the time, and he has been criticized by his fellow Democrats for not putting a stop to questions that impugned Hill's character, as well as for not bringing in witnesses who could have backed Hill's claims, Politico reports.
"What the devil have we learned [from the Hill hearings]?" Biden asked rhetorically. He pointed to "some of the questions [Hill] was asked" and the way her integrity was questioned as mistakes not to be repeated in the Senate's handling of Ford's allegations.
Biden didn't totally let himself off the hook for his handling of the Hill hearings, either, saying, "I wish I could've done more to prevent" senators from engaging in "character assassination" when Hill came forward. "I hope my colleagues learn from that," Biden said. "[Ford] deserves to be treated with dignity."
Watch Biden's full appearance on Today below. Brendan Morrow
Watch @craigmelvin’s full interview with @JoeBiden and @DrBiden about their cancer initiative, the possibility of a presidential run and Kavanaugh’s Supreme Court nomination. pic.twitter.com/KhvnWTukyc
— TODAY (@TODAYshow) September 21, 2018
On Thursday night, lawyers for Christine Blasey Ford spoke to Senate Judiciary Committee staffers as they continue to try to come to an agreement on Ford testifying before the committee, Politico reports.
Ford has accused Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh of sexual assault when they were teenagers, and Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) scheduled a hearing on the matter for Monday, inviting Ford and Kavanaugh to appear. Kavanaugh formally accepted the invitation on Thursday. Ford's attorneys requested an FBI investigation before the hearing, and earlier on Thursday, they said their client is willing to testify, but not on Monday.
During Thursday night's call, they discussed possible scenarios for an appearance, two people familiar with the matter told Politico, including holding the hearing next Thursday. It was a "positive" phone call, one person told Politico, with Ford's lawyers also letting the staffers for Grassley and ranking Democrat Sen. Dianne Feinstein (Calif.) know that Ford wants Kavanaugh to testify at the hearing first, does not want to be questioned by outside counsel, would like just one camera in the room during the hearing, and would like witnesses to be called. A spokesperson for Grassley said he is now consulting with colleagues on how to move forward. Catherine Garcia
Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh sent Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) a letter Thursday accepting his invitation to attend a hearing on Monday regarding a sexual assault accusation made against Kavanaugh.
"From the moment I first heard this allegation, I have categorically and unequivocally denied it," Kavanaugh wrote in the letter. "I remain committed to defending my integrity." He also said he wanted the hearing to take place as soon as possible so "that I can clear my name."
Christine Blasey Ford, a professor living in California, accused Kavanaugh of sexual assault when they were both teenagers. Grassley announced the hearing on Monday, before Ford and Kavanaugh agreed to attend, and Ford's lawyers have been negotiating with the committee on whether she will appear. Her lawyer said Thursday that it's "not possible" for Ford to testify in front of the panel on Monday, and "the committee's insistence that it occur then is arbitrary." That being said, if senators agree to "terms that are fair," Ford "would be prepared to testify next week." Ford had requested an FBI investigation before testifying. Catherine Garcia