Heitkamp knocks GOP challenger for 'disturbing' comments on Kavanaugh allegations

Heitkamp knocks GOP challenger for 'disturbing' comments on Kavanaugh allegations
© Greg Nash

North Dakota Sen. Heidi HeitkampMary (Heidi) Kathryn HeitkampOvernight Energy: Trump taps ex-oil lobbyist Bernhardt to lead Interior | Bernhardt slams Obama officials for agency's ethics issues | Head of major green group steps down Trump picks ex-oil lobbyist David Bernhardt for Interior secretary On The Money: Shutdown Day 27 | Trump fires back at Pelosi by canceling her foreign travel | Dems blast 'petty' move | Trump also cancels delegation to Davos | House votes to disapprove of Trump lifting Russia sanction MORE (D) on Saturday blasted her GOP Senate challenger Rep. Kevin CramerKevin John CramerSenators highlight threat from invasive species Overnight Defense: Top general wasn't consulted on Syria withdrawal | Senate passes bill breaking with Trump on Syria | What to watch for in State of the Union | US, South Korea reach deal on troop costs GOP senators think Trump would win vote on emergency declaration MORE over comments he made about the sexual misconduct allegations against Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh.

“Congressman Cramer’s comments are disturbing and they don’t reflect the values of North Dakota,” Heitkamp said in a statement to The Hill.

Heitkamp issued the statement after Cramer appeared on a North Dakota radio station Friday and called Christine Blasey Ford's allegations against Kavanaugh “absurd” given the circumstances.

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"If to the degree there was any legitimacy to Anita Hill's claims, and she tried and didn't prevail — Clarence Thomas did and America did — this case is even more absurd because these people were teenagers when this supposed alleged incident took place," Cramer said on "The Jarrod Thomas Show," referencing Anita Hill's allegations of sexual misconduct against then-Supreme Court nominee Clarence Thomas in 1991.

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“These are teenagers who evidently were drunk, according to her own statement. They were drunk. Nothing evidently happened in it all, even by her own accusation. Again, it was supposedly an attempt or something that never went anywhere,” he added. 

Cramer issued a statement to The Hill on Saturday seeking to clarify his comments from the radio interview.

“The question I was answering was how the current accusation against Brett Kavanaugh by Christine Blasey Ford compared to the Anita Hill accusation against Clarence Thomas. The point of my answer was that the current allegations were even more absurd. At the time, there was a sense of legitimacy to what Anita Hill was saying, but it is hard not to be skeptical considering the timing and history of the allegation Brett Kavanaugh is facing,” Cramer said in the statement to The Hill.

“Of course, any allegation of this nature should be taken seriously, but absent significant evidence being brought forth immediately, I feel Judge Kavanaugh’s confirmation process should proceed,” he added.

Ford went public with the allegations last Sunday in an interview with The Washington Post, saying Kavanaugh pinned her to a bed and tried to remove her clothes during a party in the early 1980s, when both were in high school.

Kavanaugh has flatly denied the allegations, which have roiled Senate Republicans' plans for a quick confirmation this month. The Senate Judiciary Committee seeks to speak with both individuals next week. 

"You just can't expect to defame a guy who's got a stellar record and a stellar, nearly perfect reputation, near as I can tell, character-wise, and be able to be the last word," Cramer said during the radio interview Friday. 

Heitkamp has been tight-lipped about how she intends to vote on Kavanaugh's nomination, but has called on Ford to testify. 

Heitkamp is among 10 Senate Democrats up for reelection this year in a state that President TrumpDonald John TrumpTrump nominates Jeffrey Rosen to replace Rosenstein at DOJ McCabe says ‘it’s possible’ Trump is a Russian asset McCabe: Trump ‘undermining the role of law enforcement’ MORE won in 2016, taking North Dakota by 36 points.

The Cook Political Report rates her race as a “toss-up.”

Updated: 1:32 p.m.