Sen. Durbin on Kavanaugh: I'll never forget the "fire in his eyes"

Sen. Dick Durbin said Friday he will never forget the "fire" in Judge Brett Kavanaugh's eyes during last week's dramatic hearing before the Senate Judiciary Committee. The No. 2 Senate Democratic leader made the comments to "CBS This Morning" ahead of the first floor vote on President Trump's Supreme Court nominee. 

Durbin made the remarks after Kavanaugh wrote a last-minute op-ed in the Wall Street Journal suggesting he might have said some things he shouldn't have in his fiery testimony last week, but did so as a father, son and husband. Kavanaugh spent most of the op-ed defending his reputation, and claiming he would be an impartial justice on the court. 

Testifying before the Senate Judiciary Committee last week, Kavanaugh lambasted Democrats for their handling of the accusations against him, at one point turning a question back on Democratic Sen. Amy Klobuchar when she asked if he had ever blacked out.

"I understand his emotion and his anger," Durbin told "CBS This Morning." "This has to be a terrible ordeal for him and his family and I understand that part. But the fire in his eyes when he turned into this partisan screed is something I'm not going to forget. I cannot imagine a Supreme Court justice who would be so partisan, make such wild claims, and then ask to be put on a bench and trusted his temperament."

Durbin said he doesn't trust Kavanaugh's temperament and demeanor, following last week's testimony, and said the nominee showed he doesn't belong on the highest court in the land. Durbin said he agrees with former Supreme Court Associate Justice John Paul Stevens, who declared Thursday Kavanaugh doesn't belong on the bench. 

As of 8 a.m., Durbin couldn't say how Sen. Joe Manchin, a West Virginia Democrat, would vote. But "twisting arms" doesn't work, Durbin said. 

"He's obviously weighing this thing from a personal point of view," Durbin said. 

Asked if the Democrats could have done anything to make the process less painful for Christine Blasey Ford, the woman who testified last week that Kavanaugh assaulted her when they were both in high school, Durbin said, "I don't think so." 

"I think we went out of our way to try to bend to her wishes," Durbin said. "Remember, when she first came forward she branded her letter confidential and made it clear she didn't want her identity disclosed. Senator Feinstein respected that request, did not want to victimize her another time. And so time passed. And that's been used against Senator Feinstein, I would say, unfairly. She was trying her best."

  • Kathryn Watson

    Kathryn Watson is a politics reporter for CBS News Digital.