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New Kavanaugh allegation leaves White House flailing for a response

Two interviews, two different talking points.

CREDIT: SCREENGRAB
CREDIT: SCREENGRAB

White House officials aren’t on the same page about how to respond to new sexual misconduct allegations against Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh.

During a CBS This Morning interview on Monday, White House counselor Kellyanne Conway downplayed the allegations — all of them pertaining to Kavanaugh’s behavior in high school or college — as youthful indiscretions that have no bearing on who the judge is as an adult. She praised him for not using his position as a judge to further abuse women.

“I just wanted to say that this may be the first time we’ve ever heard of allegations against someone as a teenager who did not prey upon women as he became powerful,” Conway said. “As you know full well at CBS News, it’s when men become powerful and think they can use women, and interrupt their careers if they want to for their own predatory proclivities, that then they start preying upon women. The allegations against Judge Kavanaugh are all from when he was a teenager, and then we’re supposed to believe he’s a judge of a dozen years hiring female law clerks, and he’s alone with them plenty, and they support his nomination to the Supreme Court?”

Conway’s talking point acknowledges that some of the allegations against Kavanaugh — which now include sexual assault, thrusting his genitals in a girl’s face at a party, and targeting women with drugs and alcohol — may be true, but still shouldn’t disqualify him from the Supreme Court.

A short time later, however, President Trump indicated that he doesn’t believe Kavanaugh did anything wrong at all.

“He’s a fine man with an unblemished past, and these are highly unsubstantiated statements from people represented by lawyers — you should look into the lawyers doing the representation,” Trump told reporters at the United Nations. “Judge Kavanaugh is an outstanding person, and I am with him all the way. We’ll see how it goes with the Senate, we’ll see how it goes with the vote.”

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“I think it could be, there’s a chance that this could be one of the single most unfair, unjust things to happen to a candidate for anything, but I am with Judge Kavanaugh and I look forward to a vote,” Trump added. “And for people to come out of the woodwork from 36 years ago and 30 years ago and never mentioned it, all of the sudden it happens — in my opinion it’s totally political. It is totally political.”

Conway and Trump also weren’t on the same page on Friday, back when Kavanaugh faced a single allegation.

During remarks made to reporters that morning, Conway praised Trump for not attacking Dr. Christine Blasey Ford — the woman who accused Kavanaugh of assaulting her at a party when they were both high school students — saying, “There’s no reason to attack her… The president doesn’t need anybody to tell him. He does the right thing.”

But exactly one minute after Conway made those comments, Trump posted a tweet that made her look like a fool by attacking Ford and smearing her as a liar.

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That Trump continues to deny Kavanaugh did anything wrong even as more allegations pile up is not surprising, given that the president stands accused of sexual assault by 15 women, and was recorded on a hot mic bragging about grabbing women by their genitals. The White House’s official position is that all of Trump’s accusers are lying.

In his new book “Fear: Trump in the White House,” journalist Bob Woodward recounts a conversation between Trump and an unnamed “friend who had acknowledged some bad behavior toward women” in which Trump advised him, “You’ve got to deny, deny, deny and push back on these women. If you admit to anything and any culpability, then you’re dead.”