President TrumpDonald TrumpCapitol fencing starts coming down after 'Justice for J6' rally Netanyahu suggests Biden fell asleep in meeting with Israeli PM Aides try to keep Biden away from unscripted events or long interviews, book claims MORE on Tuesday expressed sympathy for Brett Kavanaugh, saying the Supreme Court nominee does not "deserve" to face the political firestorm surrounding sexual assault allegations against him.
Trump suggested the accusations are politically motivated and criticized Democrats for not raising them earlier, but stopped short of directly questioning the credibility of Kavanaugh's accuser, Christine Blasey Ford.
"I feel so badly for him that he is going through this, to be honest with you," Trump said of Kavanaugh during a joint press conference at the White House with the Polish president. "This is not a man who deserves this."
Trump called Kavanaugh a "great gentleman" and said his family should not have to see the judge have his reputation tarnished by the allegations.
"Honestly I feel terribly for him, for his wife, who is an incredible, lovely woman and for his beautiful young daughters," Trump said. "I feel terribly for them."
While Trump said the Senate should allow Ford to "state her case," he accused Democrats of waiting to reveal her charges in order to "obstruct" and "resist."
"They knew what they were doing," he added.
Trump's tone was more pointed than Monday, when he stressed that the Senate would be right to delay Kavanaugh's confirmation vote in order to look into the allegations.
His ramped-up defense of Kavanaugh comes at the Senate is barreling toward a high-stakes hearing on Monday, at which the Supreme Court nominee and his accuser have been invited to testify.
Republicans and Democrats spent Tuesday battling over the planning of the hearing, which Ford has not yet confirmed she will attend. Kavanaugh has indicated he will testify at the hearing.
The president on Tuesday echoed GOP skepticism over the timing of Ford's allegations against Kavanaugh, which were first brought to Sen. Dianne FeinsteinDianne Emiel FeinsteinRepublicans caught in California's recall trap F-35 fighter jets may fall behind adversaries, House committee warns Warren, Daines introduce bill honoring 13 killed in Kabul attack MORE (D-Calif.) in July but revealed over the past week.
Feinstein, the ranking Democrat on the Senate Judiciary Committee, has said she did not disclose the allegations during a meeting with Kavanaugh or during his confirmation hearings earlier this month because Ford had asked the claims remain private. Feinstein shared a letter from Ford with the FBI last week.
Ford decided to go public with her story after her name and details of her account began to leak to the news media.
Democrats have called on Kavanaugh's high-school classmate, Mark Judge, to testify before the Judiciary panel. Ford said Judge was in the room during the alleged assault when the three were in high school in the 1980s.
“Let’s not rush the hearings,” Schumer said Tuesday on the Senate floor. “Let’s not repeat the mistake made in the Anita Hill hearings. Let’s call the relevant witnesses."
Schumer was referring to the 1991 hearings involving Hill, who accused then-Supreme Court nominee Clarence Thomas of sexual harassment when they worked together at the Equal Opportunity Employment Commission. The hearings were widely panned by liberals but Thomas was narrowly confirmed to the high court.
Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Charles GrassleyChuck GrassleyGrassley calls for federal prosecutor to probe botched FBI Nassar investigation Woman allegedly abused by Nassar after he was reported to FBI: 'I should not be here' Democrat rips Justice for not appearing at US gymnastics hearing MORE (R-Iowa), however, has not committed to allowing testimony from individuals other than Kavanaugh and Ford.
Grassley and other Republicans have focused on the fact Ford has not yet committed to testifying before the Senate.
"It kind of raises the question do they want to come to the public hearing or not," Grassley said during an interview with conservative talk radio host Hugh Hewitt.
Trump reiterated that he doesn't believe the FBI should get involved in the matter, but stressed his desire to see a hearing with Kavanaugh and Ford take place before the confirmation process moves forward.
"We should go through a process because there shouldn’t even be a little doubt," he said. "There shouldn’t be a doubt."
Ford claims that in the early 1980s, Kavanaugh pinned her down and attempted to remove her clothes during a high school party, and then put his hand over her mouth when she tried to scream for help.
Kavanaugh has denied the allegations, which were published Sunday in The Washington Post.
The White House has stood by Kavanaugh even as his nomination is thrust into turmoil. Trump on Tuesday repeatedly praised the nominee's character, saying at the joint press conference that he has an "impeccable history in every way."
"We will see what happens, but I just think that he is at a level we rarely see, not only in government, anywhere in life," Trump said.
Kavanaugh was at the White House Tuesday for the second consecutive day, where he has reportedly been meeting with members of Trump's staff.
The president has said he has not met with Kavanaugh since the allegations surfaced.
Updated: 4:15 p.m.