President Donald Trump was merely “stating the facts” when he mimicked a woman who has accused Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh of sexual assault, White House officials said Wednesday.
But several U.S. senators whose votes are key to Kavanaugh’s confirmation characterized Trump’s remarks about California professor Christine Blasey Ford at Mississippi rally as insensitive, with one lawmaker calling them, “just plain wrong.”
Trump “was stating facts that were stated during Dr. Ford’s testimony and the Senate has to make a decision based on those facts about whether or not they see Judge Kavanagh as qualified to be on the Supreme Court,” Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders said during a White House press briefing Wednesday.
Sanders called the judge’s confirmation process “a disgrace,” and accused Senate Democrats of undermining the entire judicial branch.
“Every single word Judge Kavanaugh has said has been picked apart. Second by second of his testimony has been picked apart, yet if anybody says anything about the accusations that have been thrown against him that’s totally off limits and outrageous,” Sanders said.
At a “Make America Great Again” rally in Mississippi on Tuesday night, Trump imitated Ford and her responses to questions she fielded at a Senate hearing last Thursday. She had testified that a drunken Kavanaugh had tried to sexually assault her at a small house party in a Maryland home when they were teenagers in high school.
Mimicking Ford’s testimony about the alleged assault, Trump said, “I had one beer. Well, do you think it was – nope it was one beer. How did you get home? I don’t remember. How did 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.”
He continued, “And a man’s life is in tatters.”
Kavanaugh has called the allegations false, saying he did not attend the gathering at the house that night 36 years ago.
On Wednesday, Sen. Lisa Murkowksi (R-Alaska), a critical Republican swing vote, called Trump’s comments at the rally, “absolutely, wholly unacceptable.”
Asked if Trump’s remarks could affect her vote on Kavanaugh, Murkowski said: “I am taking everything into account. The president’s comments yesterday mocking Dr. Ford were wholly inappropriate and in my view, unacceptable.”
According to The Washington Post, Sen. Susan Collins (R-Maine), told reporters Wednesday, “The president’s comments were just plain wrong.” Collins also is said to be undecided about how she will vote.
On NBC’s “Today” show, Sen. Jeff Flake (R-Arizona), a Senate Judiciary Committee member who last Friday pressed successfully for an FBI probe into the sexual misconduct claims against Kavanaugh, called Trump’s Mississippi speech “appalling . . . To discuss something this sensitive at a political rally is just not right. It’s just not right.”
Senate Democrats also criticized Trump, with Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) calling on him to apologize.
“President Trump should send a message to the women of America right now that he’s sorry for saying what he said about Dr. Blasey Ford, that survivors of sexual assault should not only be heard but treated with dignity and respect and compassion,” Schumer said.
Sanders said the administration was confident Kavanaugh will be confirmed.
“This is a coordinated smear campaign. No evidence, no independent corroboration — just smears.” Sanders said.