Trump: Kavanaugh doesn't 'deserve' to face assault allegations

President TrumpDonald John Trump2020 Democrats spar over socialism ahead of first debate Senate passes .5 billion border bill, setting up fight with House 'Teflon Don' avoids the scorn of the 'family values' GOP — again 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." 

ADVERTISEMENT

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 FeinsteinDemocratic senator introduces bill to ban gun silencers Negotiators face major obstacles to meeting July border deadline Young activists press for change in 2020 election 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 GrassleyCharles (Chuck) Ernest GrassleyThe Hill's Morning Report - Democratic debates: Miami nice or spice? Senate Finance leaders in talks on deal to limit drug price increases Million-dollar drugs pose new challenge for Congress 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.