WASHINGTON – President Donald Trump is suggesting a delay may be needed in the Supreme Court confirmation hearings of Judge Brett Kavanaugh after a woman went public saying the judge sexually assaulted her when they were in high school.
"If it takes a little delay it'll take a little delay," Trump told reporters Monday. "I'm sure it will work out very well."
"We want to go through a full process...and hear everybody out,” he said.
But Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell blasted Democrats Monday for not raising the issue sooner, and for leaking it to the press instead of bringing it before the committee.
"After Democrats have spent weeks and weeks searching for any possible reason that the nomination should be delayed, now they choose to introduce this allegation," McConnell said.
Accuser Christine Blasey Ford came forward publicly Sunday, claiming the 53-year-old judge attacked her when they were teenagers at a high school party in the early 1980s.
"He was trying to attack me and remove my clothing," said Ford, a 51-year-old research psychologist in Northern California. "I thought he might inadvertently kill me."
Asking for anonymity, Ford first shared her story in a letter dated July 30 with Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-CA). The Democrat senator later turned it over to the FBI, but she only revealed its existence to the public after Kavanaugh's confirmation hearings were over.
Ford told The Washington Post that Kavanaugh was stopped in the middle of the alleged attack. The paper reports that in early August, Ford took a polygraph test administered by a former FBI agent and the results indicated that Ford was being truthful about the incident. She says she never revealed what had happened until 2012, when she and her husband were in couples therapy.
The revelation of the identity of Kavanaugh's accuser comes days after 65 former classmates of Kavanaugh, all women, came forward in his defense.
"Through the more than 35 years we have known him, Brett has stood out for his friendship, character, and integrity," the women wrote in a letter to the Senate Judiciary Committee. "In particular, he has always treated women with decency and respect. That was true when he was in high school, and it has remained true to this day."
Ford, however, isn't backing down, saying she's willing to tell her story to the Judiciary panel.
Meanwhile, White House counselor Kellyanne Conway says Ford "should not be ignored."
"This woman should not be insulted and she should not be ignored... This woman will be heard... that has to be weighed against what we already know, which is that Judge Kavanaugh is a man of character and integrity," Conway told "Fox & Friends" Monday.
Hundreds of women have come forward to speak about Judge Kavanaugh’s character and integrity: those who knew him in high school, college, law school, the Bush White House, his law clerks, moms of girls he coaches in youth basketball. This matters. https://t.co/n2tat8Xhns
— Kellyanne Conway (@KellyannePolls) September 17, 2018
Kavanaugh says he too is prepared to appear before the Senate committee, maintaining that Ford's allegations against him are "completely false."
"I have never done anything like what the accuser describes—to her or to anyone because this never happened," he said in a statement Monday. "I had no idea who was making this accusation until she identified herself yesterday."
"I am willing to talk to the Senate Judiciary Committee in any way the committee deems appropriate to refute this false allegation, from 36 years ago, and defend my integrity," he added.
Democrats are calling on Judiciary Committee Chairman Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-IA) to delay Thursday's scheduled vote until members can get more answers to these allegations.
Some Senate Republicans, however, believe this is all a ploy by their Democratic colleagues to delay the vote, possibly until after the elections – a sentiment shared by Family Research Council President Tony Perkins.
"The reality is the Left knows their only ability to impose their agenda on America is through the courts," Perkins said. "That's why they are fighting tooth and nail to stop this president in his nomination and confirmation of justices, especially the Supreme Court."
Carrie Severino, chief counsel and policy director at the Judicial Crisis Network, was also skeptical.
“I think when you also take into context of how Sen. Feinstein herself treated these allegations – she wasn’t treating these as if she found them credible or serious or relevant,” she told CBN’s Faith Nation Monday. “And I think it’s strange now to see at the very eve of the vote now suddenly a lot of people are using them to say now we need to delay.”
But Sen. Jeff Flake (R-AZ) says Ford "must be heard" and that he's "not comfortable moving ahead with the vote...if we have not heard her side of the story or explored this further." Flake sits on the Senate Judiciary Committee, and his vote is critical for approving Kavanaugh. Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC), also on the committee, has also indicated he'd like to hear from Ford before proceeding.
Judge Kavanaugh maintains the allegation is completely false and both he and his accuser will get a chance to publicly tell their stories to the Judiciary Committee starting next Monday.
Republicans hold a razor-thin majority in the Senate, and just two "no" votes from within the party could mean the end of Kavanaugh's nomination. If that were to happen, the even bigger issue is the election in November. If Democrats take control of the Senate, then any Trump Supreme Court nominee could be blocked.