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McConnell on Kavanaugh Supreme Court nomination: 'Senate's not broken'

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) on Capitol

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) on Capitol Hill in Washington on Thursday. Credit: Bloomberg / Aaron P. Bernstein

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell defended U.S. Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh's nomination process, saying “the Senate’s not broken” and that Republicans “stood up to the mob.”

McConnell (R-Ky.) made the remarks on "Fox News Sunday" the day after the chamber voted 50-48 to send Kavanaugh to the high court after a bitterly divided nominating process. Kavanaugh was sworn in later Saturday

The process was roiled last month by the disclosure of an allegation of sexual assault by Christine Blasey Ford, a psychology professor from California, who said Kavanaugh assaulted her during a high school party more than 30 years ago. Senate Judicary Committee hearings were re-opened and both Blasey Ford and Kavanaugh testified on Sept. 27 about the allegation. 

McConnell defended the Senate’s handling of Kavanaugh’s nomination during an interview on “Fox News Sunday” with Chris Wallace.

“The Senate’s not broken,” he said, responding to criticism from Democratic senators during the past week. McConnell has been criticized, in part, for his decision in 2016 to not schedule hearings to consider Merrick Garland, who was nominated by former President Barack Obama after the death of Justice Antonin Scalia. “We didn’t attack the nominee, we didn’t go on a search and destroy mission,” McConnell said.

McConnell placed the blame for the toxic political atmosphere on Senate Democrats and protesters. “I have a different view of who caused the low point,” he told Wallace. “We stood up to the mob; we established the presumption of innocence is still important.”

Democrats on Sunday decried the process.

Sen. Mazie Hirono (D-Hawaii), who sits on the Senate Judiciary Committee, said on ABC's "This Week," that Kavanaugh is "going to be on the Supreme Court with a huge taint and a big asterisk after his name. And the partisanship that he showed was astounding. And the conspiracy theory that he accused us of behaving in was bizarre."

Sen. Chris Coons (D-Conn.), a member of the Senate Judiciary Committee, said on NBC's "Meet the Press" that it was “premature” to discuss whether a Democratic Congress, if elected in next month’s election, would impeach Kavanaugh.

Sen. Susan Collins (R-Maine) defended her vote in a pretaped interview on CNN's "State of the Union." “I found Dr. Ford’s testimony to be heart-wrenching, painful, compelling. And I believe that she believes what she testified to.”

However, she added, “I do not believe that Brett Kavanaugh was her assailant. I do believe that she was assaulted. I don’t know by whom, and I’m not certain when, but I do not believe that he was the assailant.”

Collins said that Kavanaugh “stepped over the line” in his testimony. Kavanaugh apologized for the tone of his remarks in an op-ed published last week in The Wall Street Journal, expressing regret for saying "a few things I should not have said."

Collins said on CNN, “I think he reacted with anger and anguish as a father of two young girls.”

White House counselor Kellyanne Conway said Sunday on ABC's "This Week," that "Justice Kavanaugh should not be seen as tainted.”

She added, “He should be seen as somebody who went through seven FBI investigations, including just in this last week, another one that was completed this past July; had answered 1,200 written questions; had produced about a million pages of documents; submitted himself to about 33 or 35 hours of sworn testimony to the Senate, including denying the allegations that were put before him.”

Conway said that women across the country have rallied around Kavanaugh. “We looked up and saw in him possibly our husbands, our sons, our cousins, our co-workers, our brothers. . . . This was unfair,” Conway said.

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