Republican senators ditched a sex crimes prosecutor they hired to question Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh and the woman who accused him of sexual assault, Dr. Christine Blasey Ford, to personally apologize to and sympathize with Kavanaugh at a hearing Thursday.
After all Senate Judiciary Republicans other than Chairman Chuck Grassley (R-IA) ceded their time to prosecutor Rachel Mitchell during Ford’s testimony, when Kavanaugh appeared to testify, the group broke their silence to defend the judge and apologize to him for the sexual assault allegations against him.
Asked after the hearing why Mitchell stopped asking questions partway through the day, Sen. Cornyn (R-TX) told The Washington Post, “Frankly, I think there was some frustration among the senators that they thought there were arguments that needed to be made, that she frankly was not equipped to make.”
But the senators ultimately used their time to express sympathy with the judge.
“I’m never going to get my reputation back,” Kavanaugh said, after Cornyn noted the judge has been accused of multiple crimes. “My life is totally and permanently altered.”
“Well, judge, don’t give up,” Cornyn said. “The American people are listening to this and they will make their decision and I think you’ll come out on the right side of that decision.”
Both senators from Utah — neither of whom said a word to Ford — apologized to Kavanaugh, as well.
“This is a national disgrace, the way you’re being treated,” Sen. Orrin Hatch (R-UT) said. “What we have are uncorroborated, unsubstantiated claims from his teenage years. Claims that every alleged eyewitness has either denied or failed to corroborate. I do not mean to minimize the seriousness of the claims. Yeah, they’ve been serious claims, but the search for truth has to involve more than bare assertions.”
Hatch continued, saying, “Like Dr. Ford, Judge Kavanaugh deserves fair treatment. He was an immature high schooler. So were we all… Let’s at least be fair and look at the facts or the absence thereof.”
Sen. Mike Lee (R-UT) echoed his colleague telling Kavanaugh, “On behalf of this committee, I extend to you my most profound sympathies.”
Lee did add, though after Ford had left, “And my most profound sympathies to Dr. Ford and her family as well.”
Tillis apologizing to Kavanaugh for what he’s “had to go through” after sitting silently through Dr. Ford’s testimony really says it all.
— Matthew Miller (@matthewamiller) September 27, 2018
Sen. Thom Tillis (R-NC) also apologized, saying he felt sorry for what Kavanaugh was “going through,” but it was his colleague from the South, Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC), who stole the spotlight with a several minutes-long rant Thursday.
“I cannot imagine what you and your family have gone through,” Graham said, before turning to his Democratic colleagues and saying, “Boy, y’all want power. I hope you never get it. I hope the American people can see through this sham.”
He continued, addressing the Democrats, saying, “You knew about it and you held it. You had no intention of protecting Dr. Ford. None.”
Graham turned back to Kavanaugh, saying, “She is as much of a victim as you are. God, I hate to say it, because these have been my friends, but let me tell you, when it comes to this, you’re looking for a fair process? You came to the wrong town at the wrong time, my friend.”
Kavanaugh’s hearing Thursday comes in the wake of three public accusations of sexual misconduct made against him.
Ford, the first of the three women to come forward with allegations against Kavanaugh, publicly testified under oath Thursday about the time she says he attempted to rape her at a “gathering” in high school. Both in an interview with The Washington Post earlier this month and during her emotional testimony on Thursday, Ford said Kavanaugh forced himself on her, groped her over her clothes, and tried to pull off her clothing.
When she tried to scream, he then covered her mouth with his hand and turned up the music in the room to muffle her cries.
“I thought he might inadvertently kill me,” she said in the interview, a sentiment she reiterated Thursday.
The second woman who came forward, Deborah Ramirez, told The New Yorker that, at a party in college, Kavanaugh thrust his penis to her face against her wishes. A third woman, Deborah Swetnick, says she was gang raped at a party where Kavanaugh was present.
Though she did not implicate Kavanaugh in the rape itself, she wrote in a sworn affidavit that Kavanaugh was among a group of boys with whom she associated and that he frequently spiked women’s drinks or drugged them in order to rape them.
Kavanaugh has denied all charges.