As the Supreme Court nominee made a direct appeal for his confirmation, Trump pushed for him at a Minnesota rally.
President Donald Trump continued to push for Brett Kavanaugh’s confirmation Thursday night and slammed Democrats for their treatment of his Supreme Court nominee, while Kavanaugh himself expressed some regret over his tone and emotional performance during his testimony last week.
“I was very emotional last Thursday, more so than I have ever been,” Kavanaugh wrote in a Wall Street Journal op-ed. “I might have been too emotional at times. I know that my tone was sharp, and I said a few things I should not have said.”
He continued: “I hope everyone can understand that I was there as a son, husband and dad. I testified with five people foremost in my mind: my mom, my dad, my wife — and most of all my daughters.”
Kavanaugh appeared before the Senate Judiciary Committee on Sept. 27 for a hearing on allegations of sexual assault made by professor Christine Blasey Ford, who testified earlier in the day. During a 45-minute opening statement, Kavanaugh blasted Senate Democrats, the media and even Bill and Hillary Clinton for how he has been treated.
“This whole two-week effort has been a calculated and orchestrated political hit fueled with apparent pent-up anger about President Trump and the 2016 election, fear that has been unfairly stoked about my judicial record, revenge on behalf of the Clintons and millions of dollars in money from outside left-wing opposition groups,” Kavanaugh said during his testimony. “This is a circus.”
Repeatedly stopping to compose himself, Kavanaugh at multiple junctures was almost shouting during his statement. His tone grew even sharper later in the hearing as Democratic lawmakers queried him about his drinking habits and the meaning of certain phrases from his high school yearbook.
“Do you like beer, Senator, or not?” Kavanaugh snapped at Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse (D-R.I.) at one point.
Democratic lawmakers and others criticized him for what they said was a lack of judicial temperament. On Thursday, former Supreme Court Justice John Paul Stevens, a lifelong Republican, said Kavanaugh’s performance “changed my mind,” and more than 2,400 law professors from across the country have signed an open letter, saying the tone of Kavanaugh’s testimony should be disqualifying.
On Thursday night, however, Trump backed his nominee and continued to attack Democrats for their actions during the process, while steering clear of mentioning Kavanaugh’s accusers, including Ford, whom he mocked earlier in the week.
“Democrats have been trying to destroy Judge Brett Kavanaugh since the very first second he was announced,” Trump told attendees at a rally in Rochester, Minnesota, on Thursday night.
That was a significantly different approach than in Mississippi on Tuesday, when he made fun of Ford for not being able to recall some details about allegedly being sexually assaulted by Kavanaugh during a party in the early 1980s.
Trump was in Minnesota to tout a number of Republican candidates running in the traditionally blue state, which has trended closer to Republicans in recent years. The president lost the state in 2016 by just 1.5 percent. Trump’s rally in Rochester comes as the open-seat 1st Congressional District is viewed by many as a potential and rare GOP pick-up opportunity in next month’s midterms. Democratic Rep. Tim Walz, who currently holds the seat, is running for governor, and Trump carried the district by 15 points in 2016.
The White House defended the president, saying he was just pointing out the facts, but a number of Republican lawmakers expressed dismay, including Sens. Susan Collins of Maine, Lisa Murkowski of Alaska and Jeff Flake of Arizona, the final three Republicans who have yet to declare their positions on the Kavanaugh confirmation vote.