Trump doubles down on support for Kavanaugh as 2nd sexual assault accuser comes forward

Last Updated Sep 24, 2018 6:55 PM EDT

UNITED NATIONS — President Trump continues to sympathize with his embattled Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh.

"His family has suffered," Mr. Trump said Monday in New York. "What's going on is something that should not happen."

Mr. Trump said he's hopeful Kavanaugh, 53, will be confirmed quickly. "It would be sad indeed if something happened to reroute that," he said.

Kavanaugh is participating in intense practice sessions ahead of Thursday's high-stakes hearing, where he will appear after Christine Blasey Ford, who accuses Kavanaugh of sexually assaulting her while the two were in high school.

On Sunday, The New Yorker reported that Deborah Ramirez described a 1980s, alcohol-heavy Yale dormitory party at which she said Kavanaugh exposed himself caused her to touch it without her consent. Kavanaugh has forcefully denied any accusation of misconduct.

The president questioned the motivation of the women accusing Kavanaugh of sexual misconduct.

"For people to come out of the woodwork from 36 years ago and 30 years ago and never mentioned it and all of a sudden, it happens. In my opinion, it's totally political," Mr. Trump said.

On "CBS This Morning," senior counselor to the president Kellyanne Conway called the claims a "left-wing conspiracy."

"I just don't think one man's shoulders should bear decades of the #MeToo movement," she said.

When the #MeToo movement gained momentum last November, Mr. Trump said it was "good for our society."

"I'm very happy a lot of these things are coming out," he said in 2017. "I'm very happy it's being exposed."

But when more than a dozen women accused the president of sexual misconduct, then-candidate Trump took a very different position.

"The events never happened. Never. All of these liars will be sued after the election is over," he said in October 2016.

In the run-up to Thursday's hearing before the Senate Judiciary Committee, Republicans embraced an aggressive stance. The similar tones and wording they used suggested a concerted effort to undermine the women's claims against Kavanaugh, portray an image of unity among GOP senators and press ahead to a confirmation vote.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Kentucky, angrily accused Democrats of slinging "all the mud they could manufacture."

Unintimidated, Senate Democratic Leader Chuck Schumer, retorted, "If you really believe they are a smear job, why don't you call for FBI investigation?" Schumer accused the Republicans of "a rush job to avoid the truth."

Mr. Trump has made clear he won't order an FBI investigation of the allegations. And McConnell said that Thursday's Judiciary Committee hearing would proceed and that full Senate consideration would follow "in the near future," though he mentioned no date.

Despite the forceful rhetoric by Kavanaugh and his GOP supporters, it remained unclear how three moderate Republicans — Sens. Susan Collins of Maine, Arizona's Jeff Flake and Alaska's Lisa Murkowski — would react to the latest accusation. With the GOP's Senate control hanging on a razor-thin 51-49 margin, defections by any two Republican senators would seal his fate if all Democrats vote "no." 

Proceeding with Kavanaugh seems to give Republicans their best shot at filling the Supreme Court vacancy — and giving the court an increasingly conservative tilt — before November's elections, when GOP Senate control is in play.

Even if Republicans lose their Senate majority, they could still have time to confirm a nominee in a post-election lame duck session, but the GOP has not indicated that is under consideration. Delaying Kavanaugh's confirmation could give time for doubts about him to take root or for any fresh accusations to emerge.

Pushing forward with Kavanaugh has risks of its own, besides an embarrassing defeat for Mr. Trump and the GOP. His nomination and the claims of sexual misconduct dating from his teenage years have stirred up women and liberal voters whose antipathy to Republicans has already been heightened by Mr. Trump's policies and his own fraught history of alleged sexual transgressions.

Dozens of people protesting Kavanaugh were arrested Monday outside Collins' Capitol Hill office. Many wore black "Be A Hero" shirts and chanted slogans including, "We will not be silenced."

Weijia Jiang contributed to this report.