‘Low point’: White House tries deflecting from new Supreme Court controversy by slamming Dems over Kavanaugh debacle

At the time, more Americans wanted Kavanaugh’s nomination withdrawn due to decades-old sexual assault allegations 

John T. Bennett
Washington Bureau Chief
Tuesday 22 September 2020 21:43 BST
Brett Kavanaugh denies assault allegations in interview
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The White House on Monday attacked Senate Democrats for criticising Donald Trump’s push to seat his third Supreme Court justice during the final year of his term, saying how they treated now-Justice Brett Kavanaugh was a “low point.”

As Mr Trump and his surrogates deal with Democratic claims the president is abusing his power by moving towards seating a sixth conservative justice perhaps days before he could be voted out of office, they are trying to shape public opinion by reminding voters how Democrats used accusations about Mr Kavanaugh’s high school years to try derailing his confirmation.

Mr Trump said again Tuesday he would prefer the Senate have a floor vote on the coming nomination before 3 November, when all ballots must be cast. Senior Republican senators, however, said while they are not ruling that historically quick timeline out, they intend to hold a vote this year no matter who wins the presidential election or is set to control the Senate come January.

As that drama plays out, White House Press Secretary Kayleigh McEnany offered some of her own during her first briefing of the week.

“The president would like to see a confirmation process that is fair. I think one of the low points for this process was, was the Kavanaugh hearings,” she said. “Democrats stood there making baseless allegations against Justice Kavanaugh, someone respected.”

She was referring to sexual assault allegations made by a woman who knew Mr Kavanaugh when they both were of high school age. Both were brought before the Senate Judiciary Committee for hours of gut-wrenching testimony about their personal lives and the alleged encounter. Most political analysts said neither party emerged unscathed, including in the eyes of voters.

“Democrats really dragged his name through the mud. What happened there was a travesty and the president wants to see a fair confirmation process and he wants to see one that does not look like what happened to Kavanaugh. That was a real low point for Democrats,” she contended. “I think the American people saw Democrats for the partisan games that they play and I think the American people are looking now and seeing Nancy Pelosi, Chuck Schumer talking about impeachment for executing [his] power in Article II Section 2 [of the Constitution].”

That was a reference to Speaker Pelosi on Sunday, under questioning during a television interview, opting against ruling out a second impeachment to trigger a Senate trial that would essentially freeze the coming nomination.

Mr Trump, during his own television interview the next day, essentially dared Ms Pelosi, perhaps his most effective Democratic nemesis, to do so.

“So they’re impeaching me because I’m doing constitutionally what I’m supposed to do,” the president told Fox News. “If they do, I think my numbers will go up.” The GOP president predicted, should House Democrats impeach him as a stalling tactic, “we’ll win the entire election.”

At the time, more voters (44 per cent) opposed the Kavanaugh nomination moving forward following disclosure of the sexual assault allegations than supported it (37 percent), according to a Harvard CAPS/Harris poll. But, like with every other issue, respondents were split sharply down party lines.  The matter was never a criminal one.

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