White House: Trump was 'stating the facts' in mockery of Ford

The White House on Wednesday defended President TrumpDonald John TrumpWatergate prosecutor says that Sondland testimony was 'tipping point' for Trump In private moment with Trump, Justice Kennedy pushed for Kavanaugh Supreme Court nomination: book Obama: 'Everybody needs to chill out' about differences between 2020 candidates MORE's decision to mock Christine Blasey Ford, who has accused Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh of sexual assault.  

"The president was stating the facts," White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders said during a rare briefing inside the James S. Brady Press Briefing Room.

Trump faced backlash after he taunted Ford during a Tuesday night rally in Mississippi, where he acted out her testimony to the Senate Judiciary Committee in which she detailed her alleged assault at the hands of Kavanaugh while the two were in high school. 

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Sanders downplayed concerns that Trump's comments will undermine his ability to get key Senate GOP holdouts to vote to confirm Kavanaugh.

"I don't think so," she said when asked if Trump is concerned about negative fallout from his comments. "The president is very confident in his nominee, as he has said time and time again."

Sanders blasted Senate Democrats, saying the “entire process has been a disgrace” and claiming the party has “undermined our entire judicial branch” with a “coordinated smear campaign” intended as a “full-scale assault on Judge Kavanaugh's integrity.”  

Trump's potential problem, however, lies with a handful of undecided Republicans. GOP Sens. Jeff FlakeJeffrey (Jeff) Lane FlakeLindsey Graham basks in the impeachment spotlight Kelly, McSally virtually tied in Arizona Senate race: poll The Hill's 12:30 Report — Presented by Nareit — White House cheers Republicans for storming impeachment hearing MORE (Ariz.), Susan CollinsSusan Margaret CollinsTrump steps up GOP charm offensive as impeachment looms Romney calls lunch with Trump 'delightful' Trump lunches with two of his biggest Senate GOP critics MORE (Maine) and Lisa MurkowskiLisa Ann MurkowskiKey Republicans say Biden can break Washington gridlock Impeachment hearings don't move needle with Senate GOP Hillicon Valley: Federal inquiry opened into Google health data deal | Facebook reports millions of post takedowns | Microsoft shakes up privacy debate | Disney plus tops 10M sign-ups in first day MORE (Alaska), who are all publicly undecided on Kavanaugh's nomination, have denounced Trump's remarks mocking Ford's testimony.

“I am taking everything into account. I think the president’s comments yesterday mocking Dr. Ford were wholly inappropriate and in my view unacceptable," Murkowski told reporters on Wednesday. 

Trump's mockery of Ford came just days after he called her testimony "credible" and "compelling." 

"Thirty-six years ago this happened. 'I had one beer, right? I had one beer,' " Trump said while imitating Ford at the rally. "How did you get home? 'I don't remember.' How'd you get there? 'I don't remember.' Where is the place? 'I don't remember.' How many years ago was it? 'I don't know.' "

Audience members laughed and cheered as Trump reenacted Ford's testimony. Trump inaccurately stated that Ford was not able to recall the year and place where her alleged assault took place. 

Asked about Trump's prior praise for Ford, Sanders repeated that Ford's testimony "was compelling" but added that "you can't make this decision based on emotion. It has to be based on fact." 

She accused news media organizations and Democrats of refusing to scrutinize what she called gaps in Ford's testimony. When asked if Trump still finds Ford's testimony credible, Sanders demurred. 

"The president believes Judge Kavanaugh should be confirmed," she said.

Updated at 2:14 p.m.