During a news conference on Monday, President Trump dangled blackmail material over the head of a Democratic senator he said he has observed in “compromising” situations.
Trump referenced the vague accusations while trying to downplay the drinking of his Supreme Court nominee, Brett Kavanaugh, who is accused of sexually assaulting two women in the 1980s while he was under the influence of alcohol.
“You know, I tell you what, I happen to know some United States senators, one who is on the other side who’s pretty aggressive,” Trump said in an effort to make a case that Democrats are being hypocritical. “I’ve seen that person in very bad situations, okay? I’ve seen that person in very, very bad situations, somewhat compromising.”
Pressed to name names by another reporter later on during Monday’s news conference, Trump refused.
Blackmail material of the sort Trump claims to have could be very useful for the president, given the narrow majority Republicans currently enjoy in the Senate. For instance, two Democratic senators remain publicly undecided about Kavanaugh, and either of their votes could be the difference between the judge getting a lifetime seat on the Supreme Court or not.
During his remarks on Monday, Trump worked to downplay a problem that Kavanaugh claims he does not have. While Trump commended the judge for admitting “he’s had a little bit of difficulty” with alcohol last Thursday during his testimony about one of the sexual assault allegations against him, Kavanaugh in fact denied ever having a problem — a claim multiple classmates from high school and college dispute.
In addition to claiming Dems are being hypocritical by criticizing Kavanaugh’s drinking, Trump also suggested that sexual assaults committed when a person is a teenager shouldn’t necessarily disqualify them from public service decades later. Kavanaugh, however, denies ever assaulting anyone.
Trump, of course, has been on the other side of alleged blackmail situations. The Steele dossier makes the unsubstantiated claim that the Russian government observed Trump in compromising situations during his 2013 trip to Russia, then used the blackmail material to manipulate Trump into pro-Kremlin policy positions.