Rep. Kevin Cramer (R-ND), his party’s nominee against incumbent Democratic Sen. Heidi Heitkamp, made national headlines on Friday when he dismissed the first set of allegations of attempted rape against Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh as “absurd.” His reasoning: the parties involved were drunk teens and the alleged sexual assault was “supposedly an attempt or something that never went anywhere.”
But just one day before his suggestion that attempted attacks wouldn’t be disqualifying for a Supreme Court justice, he signed on as co-sponsor of a bill to make it easier for Native American tribes to prosecute threats of domestic abuse in their tribal court systems.
The Native Youth and Tribal Officer Protection Act, sponsored by Rep. Tom O’Halleran (D-AZ) in the House and Sen. Tom Udall (D-NM) in the Senate, seeks to strengthen provisions in the Violence Against Women Act of 2013 to authorize Native American tribes to arrest and prosecute those who threaten domestic violence while on tribal lands. The legislation expressly protects youth and law enforcement officers from these threats of domestic abuse. Cramer became the fourth House cosponsor on Thursday.
While his comments about the accusation against Kavanaugh of attempted sexual would seem to contradict his support for legislation protecting minors from attempted abuse, his own record would also seem to contradict his support for this legislation. In 2013, he opposed the tribal provisions in the bill as “inadvertently placing in jeopardy future convictions under the act” because they could violate constitutional due process.
Weeks after that February 2013 vote, Cramer reportedly threatened members of the Spirit Lake Tribal Council with physical violence over tribal handling of child protection, saying that he wanted to “[w]ring the Tribal Council’s neck and slam them against the wall.” Cramer later apologized for his “tone and rhetoric, better suited for active debate in Congress rather than in addressing the protectors of our most vulnerable citizens.”
A spokesperson for Cramer did not immediately respond to a ThinkProgress request for comment.