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Lindsey Graham to Democrats: “You’d better watch out for your nominees”

Graham is repeatedly, glibly dismissing Christine Blasey Ford’s accusations.

Dylan Matthews is a senior correspondent and head writer for Vox's Future Perfect section and has worked at Vox since 2014. He is particularly interested in global health and pandemic prevention, anti-poverty efforts, economic policy and theory, and conflicts about the right way to do philanthropy.

After Thursday morning’s first round of testimony by Christine Blasey Ford, who has accused Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh of sexually assaulting her when they were teenagers (an allegation Kavanaugh has denied), Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC) seemed to threaten that Republicans will make sexual assault allegations against future Democratic judicial nominees in retaliation.

“Let me tell my Democratic friends,” said Graham, who sits on the Senate Judiciary Committee where Ford is testifying, before a gaggle of reporters on Capitol Hill. “If this is the new norm, you’d better watch out for your nominees.”

You can watch his full remarks below:

Here are Graham’s full comments in the video:

GRAHAM: All I can deal with is what’s in front of me. I’ve got a guy who adamantly denies this. Everybody who actually knows him in a real way say, “This is not the guy I know.” I’ve got Dr. Ford, who can’t tell me the time and the place. And we’ll see what happens. Maybe something comes out.

QUESTION: Do you intend to vote tomorrow? Are you going to vote tomorrow?

GRAHAM: I intend to.

QUESTION: Will this be enough for some Republicans not to vote for him?

GRAHAM: Let me put it this way to my Republican colleagues. If this becomes the new standard, where you have an accusation for weeks, you drop it right before the hearing, you withhold from the committee a chance to do this in a professional, timely fashion; when they publicly say that their goal is to delay the vote, get the Senate back in 2018 to make sure he can’t fill the seat, they’re publicly saying that: I don’t want to reward that kind of behavior. I think we’ve been very fair.

To my Republican colleagues: If you can ignore everything in this record, looking at an allegation that’s 35 years old, that’s uncertain in time, place, date, and no corroboration. If that’s enough for you, god help us all as Republicans, because this happens to us, it never happens to them.

But let me tell my Democratic friends: If this is the new norm, you’d better watch out for your nominees.

This is not the only time Graham has been flippant and dismissive toward Ford and other accusers in the Kavanaugh case. On Wednesday, Graham directed blame at Julie Swetnick, who has accused Kavanaugh of drunkenly harassing women at parties where women were also gang raped, by suggesting Swetnick should have stopped attending these parties if she thought she was in danger:

More recently, on Thursday, Graham responded to a woman on Capitol Hill who disclosed her own sexual assault to Graham amid the hearings by simply saying, “I’m sorry. Tell the cops.”