Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell isn’t too concerned about a new sexual misconduct allegation that’s been levied against Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh. In fact, he’s dismissed it out of hand as a “reenactment” of a “sad and embarrassing chapter Senate Democrats ... wrote last September.”
It’s not a particularly surprising position — given how quickly McConnell questioned other misconduct allegations Kavanaugh faced last year — but it further underscores just how committed Republicans are to rallying behind President Donald Trump’s second Supreme Court justice.
“For anybody who has been reading the news the past few days, it’s probably felt a little like Groundhog Day,” McConnell said during floor remarks on Monday, slamming a New York Times report that included a new misconduct allegation against Kavanaugh as “poorly sourced” and “thinly reported.”
The Times story, from Robin Pogrebin and Kate Kelly, cites corroboration for an allegation of sexual misconduct that was brought against Kavanaugh by former Yale classmate Deborah Ramirez last year. It also highlights another allegation of sexual misconduct that involved Kavanaugh exposing his genitalia to a female classmate at a party, though the woman involved in the incident reportedly does not recall it. Kavanaugh has denied Ramirez’s allegation and declined to comment on the second accusation, when asked by Pogrebin and Kelly.
Several Democratic presidential candidates including Sens. Kamala Harris and Elizabeth Warren have since called for Kavanaugh’s impeachment after the publication of the article, an effort Republicans have broadly scoffed at.
McConnell’s response this week echoes the approach he took last fall. Following allegations against Kavanaugh last year, including one from Palo Alto University Professor Christine Blasey Ford, who accused the then-nominee of sexually assaulting her when they were in high school, McConnell sought to barrel forward with the process.
“In the very near future, Judge Kavanaugh will be on the United States Supreme Court,” McConnell said at the time. “Keep the faith, don’t get rattled by all of this. We’re going to plow right through it and do our job.”
McConnell was also initially resistant to an FBI investigation into the allegations from Ford and Ramirez, and only caved on this issue after former Arizona Sen. Jeff Flake pressured him into considering it.
At the time, he argued that Blasey Ford’s allegation was missing corroboration, despite evidence that she had gathered to substantiate the claim. This time around, it’s clear he’s content to discredit the allegation and ignore it completely.
Senate Republicans are continuing to stick by Kavanaugh
Much like McConnell, most Senate Republicans see the new misconduct allegation as a political ploy by Democrats to reignite the contentious fight over Kavanaugh’s Supreme Court seat. Thus far, none have indicated that they’re particularly interested in further review of the allegation raised by the Times report.
“My heart goes out to Justice Kavanaugh’s family for being forced to endure this ridiculous treatment once again,” said Senate Judiciary Chair Lindsey Graham in a tweet. “There’s nobody they don’t want to impeach,” said Sen. Ted Cruz, of Democrats, this past weekend.
The latest attacks leveled against Brett Kavanaugh are beyond the pale.— Lindsey Graham (@LindseyGrahamSC) September 16, 2019
My heart goes out to Justice Kavanaugh’s family for being forced to endure this ridiculous treatment once again.
Some Congressional Republicans, and the White House, are operating off a series of talking points compiled by a conservative organization called the Article III Project, Yahoo’s Brittany Shepherd reports. These responses are focused on discrediting the allegations that have been raised against Kavanaugh, and focus on questioning The Times report, which did not initially say the woman involved in the new allegation did not remember it.
“Here they go again,” McConnell emphasized on Monday, suggesting that Democrats were “hysterically” pushing for Kavanaugh’s impeachment.
McConnell also tied Democrats’ critiques of Kavanaugh to his larger push to remake the federal judiciary and confirm as many judges as possible under Republicans’ Senate majority. The recent Democratic pushback toward Kavanaugh is a “deliberate effort to attack judicial independence,” he said.