x

Abu Dhabi, UAETuesday 23 October 2018

Key US senators criticise Trump for mocking Kavanaugh accuser

Senators Jeff Flake and Susan Collins were among the lawmakers who took issue with his comments

Senator Susan Collins, R-Maine, is escorted by US Capitol Police past waiting reporters trying to ask about Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh, on Capitol Hill. AP
Senator Susan Collins, R-Maine, is escorted by US Capitol Police past waiting reporters trying to ask about Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh, on Capitol Hill. AP

Two moderate Republicans who could be pivotal in determining whether the Senate confirms US Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh criticised President Donald Trump on Wednesday for mocking a woman who has accused the judge of sexual assault.

Senators Jeff Flake and Susan Collins were among the lawmakers who took issue with comments Mr Trump made regarding Christine Blasey Ford, a university professor from California who detailed her sexual assault allegation against Mr Kavanaugh at an extraordinary Senate Judiciary Committee hearing last week.

At a political rally in Mississippi on Tuesday night, Mr Trump mocked Ms Ford's testimony about the alleged assault in Maryland in 1982 when she was 15 and Mr Kavanaugh was 17.

Ms Ford testified that she could not remember the precise date or location of the alleged assault or how she got home afterward, but offered a detailed account of the incident itself in which she said a drunken Mr Kavanaugh pinned her down, tried to remove her clothing and covered her mouth when she screamed.

"What neighborhood was it in? I don't know. Where's the house? I don't know. Upstairs, downstairs, where was it? I don't know. But I had one beer. That's the only thing I remember," Mr Trump, who was himself accused during the 2016 presidential race of sexual misconduct with numerous women, said in his imitation of Ford's testimony.

"And a man's life is in tatters," Mr Trump added.

Appearing on NBC's "Today" show, Mr Flake said that "there's no time and no place for remarks like that, that discuss something this sensitive at a political rally."

"It's just not right. I wish he hadn't...done it. I just say it's kind of appalling," Mr Flake said of Mr Trump's comments.

_______________

Read more:

Cosby conviction and Kavanaugh revelations inspire protests in US

Kavanaugh, Ford agree to testify on Thursday

The Supreme Court controversy is testing the raison d'etre of Trump's presidency

_______________

Speaking briefly to reporters, Ms Collins said, "The president's comments were just plain wrong." She did not respond when asked if his comments would affect her vote on Kavanaugh's confirmation.

Mr Trump's fellow Republicans control the Senate by a 51-49 margin. That means if all the Democrats vote against Mr Kavanaugh, Mr Trump could not afford to have more than one Republican oppose his nominee, with Vice President Mike Pence casting a tie-breaking vote.

So far, no Republicans have said they would vote against Mr Kavanaugh.

Mr Flake was instrumental in initiating an FBI investigation into the allegations against Mr Kavanaugh, a conservative federal appeals court judge nominated by Mr Trump for a lifetime job on the top US court.

Mr Kavanaugh has denied Ms Ford's accusation as well as allegations by two other women, all dating from the 1980s.

Mr Trump ordered the FBI investigation last Friday, limiting its duration to no more than a week.