Heitkamp: Vote to oppose Kavanaugh wasn't about politics

Heitkamp: Vote to oppose Kavanaugh wasn't about politics
© Greg Nash

Sen. Heidi HeitkampMary (Heidi) Kathryn HeitkampThe Hill's Morning Report — Biden steadies in third debate as top tier remains the same Trump wins 60 percent approval in rural areas of key states Pence to push new NAFTA deal in visit to Iowa MORE (D-N.D.) acknowledged in an interview scheduled to be broadcast late Sunday that voting for Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh would have been "politically expedient," but argued her vote was about more than politics.

Heitkamp appeared on CBS's "60 Minutes" days after she voted "no" on Kavanaugh's nomination despite facing a difficult reelection battle in a state that 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 won by 36 points in 2016. Scott Pelley pointed out that political consultants would have advised her to vote in favor of the judge's nomination.

"I don't think there's any doubt about that. I think that the politically expedient vote here was a 'yes' vote," Heitkamp said.

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"Why not then?" Pelley asked.

"Because this isn't about politics," the senator responded.

Two polls released last week prior to Heitkamp's vote being made public showed the incumbent trailing challenger Rep. Kevin CramerKevin John CramerGOP divided over impeachment trial strategy GOP senators balk at lengthy impeachment trial GOP senators plan to tune out impeachment week MORE (R-N.D.) by double digits

Heitkamp announced her intention to vote "no" on Thursday, pointing to allegations of sexual misconduct against Kavanaugh, and questioning his judicial temperament.

On "60 Minutes," she highlighted the testimony of Christine Blasey Ford, who told the Senate Judiciary Committee that she was "100 percent" certain Kavanaugh pinned her to a bed, groped her and attempted to remove her clothes during a high school party in the 1980s. Kavanaugh has denied the allegations.

"My judgment on her experience is based on a lot of experience working with domestic assault victims, domestic violence victims," Heitkamp said.

"And the experiences that have been shared over and over in my time as attorney general and now coming to the Senate as people have described their experience, and for me it does not appear that he's somebody who should be given a lifetime appointment to the most important court in the world," she added.

Heitkamp argued that that even if senators did not believe there was evidence to corroborate Ford's claims, Kavanaugh's testimony blasting Democrats for conducting an "orchestrated political hit" against him provided additional reason to oppose his confirmation. 

The Senate confirmed Kavanaugh on Saturday afternoon in a 50-48 vote, with one GOP senator absent and another voting "present." Every Democrat opposed Kavanaugh's nomination except for Sen. Joe ManchinJoseph (Joe) ManchinPolitical purity tests are for losers Former coal exec Don Blankenship launches third-party presidential bid Centrist Democrats seize on state election wins to rail against Warren's agenda MORE (D-W.Va.), who is also facing a tough reelection bid this year.

The bitter fight over Kavanaugh’s confirmation came after multiple women accused the judge of sexual misconduct. Kavanaugh and Ford testified late last month over allegations that he sexually assaulted her during a party in the 1980s 

A supplemental FBI background investigation found no corroboration of the claims, Republicans said, while Democrats argued that the review of the allegations was too brief and failed to interview key witnesses.