NEW YORK – President Donald Trump refused on Wednesday to rule out withdrawing his support for his Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh depending on what one of the women accusing the judge of sexual abuse says in her Senate testimony later this week.
At a rare solo press conference after his participation in the United Nations General Assembly, Trump responded to a question about whether there is any possibility he might withdraw Kavanaugh’s nomination after the Senate Judiciary Committee hearing on Thursday, at which Christine Blasey Ford is scheduled to give her account of what she claims was a rape attempt by Kavanaugh in the early 1980s, when they were both teenagers.
“I’m going to see what happens tomorrow. I’m going to be watching, believe it or not,” Trump said. “I’m going to see what’s said. It’s possible that (Ford) will be convincing.”
When pressed about whether he might withdraw his support for his nominee, however, the president finally said, “If I thought he was guilty of something like this ... yeah, sure.”
One of the three women who has accused Kavanaugh of sexual misconduct, Ford will come before the Senate committee, which is the body that must decide whether to recommend to the full Senate Kavanaugh’s nomination to fill the empty Supreme Court seat created by Anthony Kennedy’s retirement.
Ford says that Kavanaugh, who was drunk at a house party they were both attending in high school, tried to force himself on her in one of the house’s bedrooms and covered her mouth to silence her protests, although she managed to escape from him and was not actually raped.
However, the president made it clear that, for now, he is fully behind Kavanaugh, suggesting that the accusations against him are a “con job” promoted by Democratic lawmakers and noting that they had accused him of committing sexual misconduct in the past.
“I was accused by, I believe it was four women,” Trump said, referring to claims by more than a dozen women that he groped or kissed them without their consent. “I was accused by four or five women who got paid a lot of money to make up stories about me. We caught them and the mainstream media refused to put it on television ... So I’ve had numerous accusations about me.”
“People want fame, they want money, they want whatever,” Trump said.
The president said that what conservatives have called a “smear campaign” against Kavanaugh is “In this case, you’re guilty until proven innocent. I think that is a very, very dangerous standard for our country.”
But he said he was open to “changing my mind” if Ford presents evidence against Kavanaugh that is believable.
A few hours earlier, Trump had tweeted that he considered the accusations against Kavanaugh by a third women, Julie Swetnick, to be “false” after she claimed that the now-judge was “present” decades ago when she raped by several young men at another house party after they apparently slipped her some kind of drug that made her disoriented.
Trump also has sought to minimize the accusation of another woman, Deborah Ramirez, who says that a drunk Kavanaugh pushed his penis in her face during yet another student party many years ago.