GOP senator sees 'little hiccup' in Kavanaugh confirmation

GOP senator sees 'little hiccup' in Kavanaugh confirmation
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Sen. Dean HellerDean Arthur HellerOn The Trail: Democrats plan to hammer Trump on Social Security, Medicare Lobbying World Democrats spend big to put Senate in play MORE (R-Nev.) said  Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh's confirmation process had a "little hiccup" after a woman accused the judge of sexual assault.

"We got a little hiccup here with the Kavanaugh nomination," Heller said during a conference call with GOP donors on Wednesday, according to local outlet The Nevada Independent. "We’ll get through this and we’ll get off to the races." 

Heller in a statement to The Hill said his "hiccup" comment was a reference to how "poorly the Democrats have handled this process."

"No, I do not believe sexual assault allegations of any kind are a hiccup," Heller said in the statement.

"I think it’s important for Dr. Ford to have the opportunity to share her story with the Judiciary Committee in public or private should she choose to do so," he added, referring to Kavanaugh's accuser, Christine Blasey Ford.

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Heller, who has supported Kavanaugh's nomination since the beginning, on Tuesday told The Las Vegas-Review Journal that he hopes "all senators" will address the accusations "in good faith."  

"I think it is important for Dr. Ford to share her information with the Judiciary Committee," Heller wrote in the statement. "Given the gravity of this appointment and this accusation, I would hope that all Senators, regardless of party, will work with [Senate Judiciary Committee] Chairman [Charles] Grassley (D-Iowa) in good faith." 

Heller's latest comments reportedly came during a conference call arranged by the Nevada Republican Party ahead of President TrumpDonald John TrumpTrump fires intelligence community inspector general who flagged Ukraine whistleblower complaint Trump organization has laid off over 1000 employees due to pandemic: report Trump invokes Defense Production Act to prevent export of surgical masks, gloves MORE's visit to the state. 

Trump is holding a rally in Las Vegas on Thursday for Heller, who is considered the most vulnerable Senate Republican seeking reelection this year. 

Gravis Marketing poll released on Monday found that 45 percent of voters said they would vote for Heller if the elections were held today, while 47 percent of voters said they would select his opponent, Rep. Jacky RosenJacklyn (Jacky) Sheryl RosenShocking ignorance about the Holocaust illustrates the need to pass the Never Again Education Act Overnight Defense: Lawmakers tear into Pentagon over .8B for border wall | Dems offer bill to reverse Trump on wall funding | Senators urge UN to restore Iran sanctions Bipartisan Senate resolution would urge UN to renew Iran arms embargo, travel restrictions MORE (D-Nev.). The survey's margin of error is 3.7 percent. 

Though the Senate Judiciary Committee scheduled a public hearing with Ford and Kavanaugh for Monday, Ford's lawyer has said in recent days that she will not attend, calling for the FBI to open an investigation into her allegation first.

A growing number of Republicans in response has said the vote on Kavanaugh should move forward if Ford will not testify

"The hearing was scheduled for six short days from today and would include interrogation by Senators who appear to have made up their minds that she is 'mistaken' and 'mixed up,'" Ford's lawyers wrote in a letter on Tuesday. "No sexual assault survivor should be subjected to such an ordeal."

Ford on Sunday went public with her accusations against Kavanaugh, claiming that he forced himself on her during a high school party in the 1980s. She is alleging that Kavanaugh held her down and groped her over her clothes, at one point putting his hand over her mouth to prevent her from screaming.

She says the alleged incident has caused her decades of emotional trauma, a claim substantiated by notes from her therapist in 2012 and 2013.

--This report was updated at 12:58 p.m.