Trump on Kavanaugh: ‘He’s perfectly innocent of everything’
Sen. Lindsey Graham has made it his mission to aggressively, eagerly defend Brett Kavanaugh at all costs.
As the Senate Judiciary Committee prepares to hear testimony from Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh and one of his accusers Thursday, the South Carolina Republican — a senior member of the panel— has crafted a role as a full-throated defender of the embattled D.C. Circuit Court judge.
“We’re not gonna let a thousand accusations stop” the process, Graham said Wednesday. “(Democrats have) said publicly they want to delay this and get the majority back and hold a seat open.”
He was indignant with reporters who questioned him about how and why he was so convinced Kavanaugh was innocent.
Of Christine Blasey Ford, who is alleging Kavanaugh attempted to rape her at a high school party in 1982, Graham said, “You can’t tell me the time. You can’t tell me the location. And the people you tell me were at the party, they say it didn’t happen. So what am I supposed to do? You couldn’t get a warrant based on that.”
Graham dismissed Deborah Ramirez, who told The New Yorker that Kavanaugh exposed himself to her at a party while at Yale, because Ramirez didn’t immediately want to share her account with the Judiciary Committee.
He was the most enraged about the accusations laid out in the latest allegation, a sworn declaration from Julie Swetnick that Kavanaugh was part of a group of high school boys who would drug young girls at parties in order to take advantage of them.
“I’m saying if you were going to parties where women are raped for a two-year period, you have an obligation to go tell the cops. I really believe that,” said Graham. “And the fact that you didn’t tell the cops and you don’t mention it for 36 years and you don’t mention it before two days before the hearing is very suspicious for me.”
When pressed, he said “I don’t know” if Swetnick was lying.
The South Carolina Republican is used to being a self-appointed spokesman for the GOP.
During moments of crisis for his party — during debates on issues as varied as immigration and health care — Graham is a familiar sight on conservative news media, making the rounds to reassure the base that Republicans have everything under control.
And in these moments, while Graham has made cooperation with Democrats as part of his brand, he never hesitates to take a partisan position when Democrats are trying to thwart his party’s agenda.
But this is a different kind of debate. By maintaining his support for Kavanaugh even before he hears from Ford, Graham is doing more than just standing up for his party’s Supreme Court nominee.
He is wading into a highly emotional debate in the thick of the #metoo movement, where defending Kavanaugh’s integrity also means casting aspersions on three women who insist they were either victims of, or witness to, Kavanaugh engaging in acts of sexual violence more than three decades ago.
Graham is also echoing Republican talking points that characterize Democrats as engaging in a smear campaign to keep Kavanaugh off the Supreme Court, which in turn suggest Kavanaugh’s accusers are not credible.
“Y’all go do your homework about this last allegation, and (if) I were a true victim, the last person I would go to would be Michael Avenatti,” Graham said of Swetnick’s lawyer, a Democrat who also represents the adult film actress accusing President Donald Trump of offering hush money during the 2016 campaign to cover up an affair.
Asked what he would say to Democrats who are accusing him and members of his party as insensitive to women with their rhetoric, Graham shot back that “people who are criticizing us are hypocrites.”
Ultimately, Graham bolstered his arguments with reminders about his legal background.
When he was still practicing law, Graham said he’d “seen it all.” He said he’d once defended a young German girl who had been gang raped and succeeded in getting a 20-year prison sentence for one of the perpetrators.
“The accused testified and I beat the shit out of him,” said Graham.
Then again, Graham recalled he defended an accused rapist who ended up being found not guilty, but the trauma was so great that Graham “thought he was gonna kill himself.”
“For every woman that comes forward, only God knows how many that never came forward. That’s a true fact,” Graham conceded. “(But) every now and then, people get accused of things they didn’t do that are exaggerated … when a woman says something, she needs to be heard. But when you accuse any person of the crime, the accuser needs to be tested.”