Politics

McConnell Slams Democrats for Timing of Sexual Assault Allegation Against Kavanaugh

Asserts that accusation of misconduct brought forward in an ‘irregular manner’

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., accuses Democrats of leaking an allegation of sexual assault against Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh to the press and not raising it through proper channels. (Sarah Silbiger/CQ Roll Call file photo)

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell slammed Democrats for the process and timing under which the sexual misconduct allegation against Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh has been raised. But  he said he has confidence that Senate Judiciary Chairman Chuck Grassley will handle the matter appropriately.

It’s been 70 days since President Donald Trump nominated Kavanaugh and the Senate has spent more than two months poring through his background, including hundreds of testimonials from people who know him, McConnell said.

“Now an accusation of 36-year-old misconduct dating back to high school has been brought forward at the last minute in an irregular manner,” the Kentucky Republican said.

Senate Judiciary ranking member Dianne Feinstein has known about the allegation for weeks and chose to keep it secret, including in her private meeting with Kavanaugh, McConnell said. He said Democrats never raised it throughout the several days of Kavanaugh’s confirmation hearing that he said included “sometimes bizarre innuendo.”

“Now at the eleventh hour with committee votes on schedule after democrats have spent weeks and weeks searching for any possible reason that this nomination should be delayed, now, now they choose to introduce this allegation,” McConnell said.

Last week, Feinstein said in a news release that she had information about Kavanaugh but was keeping it confidential at the request of the individual who provided the information.

“I have received information from an individual concerning the nomination of Brett Kavanaugh to the Supreme Court,” Feinstein said. “That individual strongly requested confidentiality, declined to come forward or press the matter further, and I have honored that decision. I have, however, referred the matter to federal investigative authorities.”

Christine Blasey Ford, a 51-year-old research psychologist, was identified by name in a  Washington Post article Sunday as Kavanaugh’s accuser. She alleged that Kavanaugh sexually assaulted her when they were both in high school. She told the Post she was afraid Kavanaugh might “inadvertently kill” her during a party in the early 1980s, alleging that the Supreme Court nominee pinned her to a bed and groped her over a one-piece bathing suit.

Kavanaugh denies the allegation and has said he would be willing to testify about Ford’s allegations.

“I have never done anything like what the accuser describes — to her or to anyone,” Kavanaugh said in a statement released by the White House.

McConnell criticized Democrats for leaking the allegation in the press and not raising it not through proper channels.

“I’m glad that chairman Grassley is following standard practice and regular order,” McConnell said, referring to the chairman’s plan to conduct “by the book with bipartisan interviews” of Kavanaugh and his accuser.

“I have great confidence in Chairman Grassley and his ability to proceed through this process,” he added.

All 10 Democrats on the Senate Judiciary Committee on Monday formally asked for a delay in the confirmation vote of Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh, and one of the committee’s Republicans, Arizona’s Jeff Flake, has indicated he would like a delay so that Kavanaugh’s accuser can be heard.

Watch: Why Activists Say They're Protesting Kavanaugh

Get breaking news alerts and more from Roll Call on your iPhone or your Android.