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Senators Spar Over FBI Probe of Kavanaugh, Trump Mocks Accuser

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As U.S. senators await the result of an FBI investigation and prepare for a potential final vote on President Donald Trump’s Supreme Court nominee, Brett Kavanaugh, Trump used part of a political rally to mock a woman who has accused Kavanaugh of sexually assaulting her.

The FBI investigation was launched Friday, one day after Christine Blasey Ford told the Senate Judiciary Committee that Kavanaugh assaulted her at a high school party. Kavanaugh angrily denied the charges hours later and accused Democrats of orchestrating a “political hit” against him.

Ford told the Senate Judiciary Committee she was “100 percent certain” it was a drunken Kavanaugh who pinned her down on a bed, groped her, tried to take off her clothes, and put his hand over her mouth to muffle her screams for help. Kavanaugh testified he has never assaulted anyone.

In front of a crowd of supporters Tuesday night in Mississippi, Trump gave an apparent re-enactment of Ford’s testimony, mockingly portraying what he described as holes in her testimony.

“How did you get home? ‘I don’t remember.’ How did you get there? ‘I don’t remember,'” Trump said.

Ford’s lawyer, Michael Bromwich, called Trump’s attack Tuesday “vicious, vile and soulless.”

“Is it any wonder that she was terrified to come forward, and that other sexual assault survivors are as well? She is a remarkable profile in courage. He is a profile in cowardice,” Bromwich wrote on Twitter.

Trump’s comments about Ford triggered strong reactions from several senators, some of whom are undecided about whether to vote in favor of Kavanaugh’s nomination.

“There’s no time and place for remarks like that,” Republican Senator Jeff Flake said Wednesday on NBC’s “Today” show. “To discuss something this sensitive at a political rally is just not right. I wish he hadn’t done it,” he said, adding “it’s kind of appalling.”

Republican Senator Susan Collins also condemned Trump’s comments, saying on CNN Wednesday they “were just plain wrong.”

Senator Richard Blumenthal, a Democrat and frequent critic of Trump, said on CNN “this vile, mocking attack on a credible, immensely powerfully eloquent survivor of sexual assault is a mark of disrespect and disregard not only for Dr. Blasey Ford but the entire community.”

Independent Senator Angus King said on CNN’s “New Day” Trump’s remarks “made me feel sort of sick.”

Earlier Tuesday, Senate Republicans and Democrats sparred over the ongoing FBI investigation, which is expected to be completed by Friday.

Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said the confirmation vote will occur once senators of both parties have a chance to review the FBI’s conclusions.

“What I can tell you with certainty is that we’ll have an FBI report this week and we’ll have a vote this week,” McConnell told reporters.

Democrats, meanwhile, demanded that the White House divulge its instructions to the FBI in ordering the investigation, that the FBI’s report be made public, and that the bureau’s lead investigators brief senators about their findings.

“We need to be briefed by the FBI, by the agent in charge,” Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, a New York Democrat, said. “The FBI must not be handcuffed, and their results should be made public.”

In the days since the FBI probe began, one of the nominee’s former classmates at Yale University issued a statement alleging that, as a student, Kavanaugh was “a frequent drinker and a heavy drinker” who often became “belligerent and aggressive” during his binges.

On Monday, President Trump told reporters the FBI had the authority to interview anyone it desired, pushing back against charges by Senate Democrats that the White House is limiting the scope of the investigation.

At the Capitol, Schumer said questions surrounding Kavanaugh extend beyond sexual assault and now encompass his truthfulness and judicial temperament.

“It’s hard to believe what Judge Kavanaugh swore under oath,” Schumer said.”He sure didn’t show the demeanor of a judge at the hearing.”

Republicans accused Democrats of attempting to destroy the nominee’s reputation for political gain.

“[Democrats] will not be satisfied unless they have brought down Judge Kavanaugh’s nomination,” McConnell said. “The floodgates of mud and muck opened entirely on Brett Kavanaugh and his family.”

“It’s not fair to Judge Kavanaugh to string this matter along further,” Majority Whip John Cornyn of Texas said. “This has become a national embarrassment.”

Democrats countered that brief delays in voting on Kavanaugh pale in comparison to Republicans refusing to consider former President Barack Obama’s final Supreme Court nominee, Merrick Garland, for most of 2016.

Republicans hold a 51-49 Senate majority heading into next month’s midterm elections that will determine which political party controls both houses of Congress.

So far, no Democrat has announced support for Kavanaugh and no Republican has declared opposition to him.

By: Michael Bowman

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