Donald Trump finally just said it: He doesn’t care if Christine Blasey Ford was telling the truth.
Journalist Lesley Stahl asked Trump in an interview aired on 60 Minutes Sunday night why he had mocked Ford at a rally a few days after she testified before the Senate that then-Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh had attempted to rape her when they were teenagers.
“Do you think you treated her with respect?” Stahl asked.
“I think so, yeah, I did,” the president said.
Stahl followed up: “But you seem to be saying that she lied.”
“I’m not going to get into it,” Trump said. “Because we won. It doesn’t matter. We won.”
Trump turned the Republican subtext on Ford into text: Ford’s story — true or not — is not important.
Most Republicans have said they “believe” Ford, as in, they believe she is the victim of the kind of assault she described before Congress. The testimony she presented sounded credible. They just think she is mixed up or confused about the details. Only one Republican senator objected to seating Kavanaugh on the Supreme Court.
Republicans were comfortable with Kavanaugh’s response to the accusations, which included lying about his past behavior, refusing to answer questions during a Senate hearing, and losing his temper before the Judiciary Committee on national television, including in his prepared remarks.
The contrast has stumped Ford supporters — how can Republicans weigh the credibility of the two people in question and not be at least wary of Kavanaugh? Trump solved the mystery. It doesn’t matter who is telling the truth.
There were signs early on that Republicans were more interested in pushing Kavanaugh through quickly than sussing out his history. They refused to call relevant witnesses at the hearing. The White House gave the FBI one week to follow up and limited whom they could interview, specifically excluding Kavanaugh and Ford.
Plus, Mitch McConnell called a vote on Kavanaugh’s nomination before the hearing into Ford’s claims was even held. Then, before the FBI finished its investigation, McConnell said he expected to confirm Kavanaugh quickly. Other Republicans said the same.
And as my colleague Matthew Yglesias wrote, there was an even bigger tell (if that’s possible). The White House tapped White House deputy chief of staff for communications Bill Shine to handle Kavanaugh’s prep work. As Yglesias, put it, “Shine was available to go work in the White House since he was forced to resign in disgrace last year from his job as co-president of Fox News because he’d been named in too many lawsuits as an abettor of the multiple, large-scale sexual harassment allegations at the company.”
Trump has told us again and again what he thinks about women. He’s joked to a mild acquaintance about grabbing women’s genitals. When you’re a celebrity, “you can do anything,” he said. He’s called the more than a dozen women who have accused him of sexual assault liars — all of them. He lamented the loss of a White House aide after the press found out his wife gave the FBI photos showing spousal abuse. He stood by a Senate candidate accused of assaulting or propositioning minors. The list goes on.
We usually only get to take Trump seriously on these issues. On Sunday night, we get to take him literally.