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Kennedy comments on Kavanaugh allegation

Posted at 1:39 PM, Sep 19, 2018
and last updated 2018-09-19 14:39:52-04

Republican U.S. Sen. John Neely Kennedy said the planned hearing about Christine Blasey Ford’s sexual-assault allegation against Brett Kavanaugh is against protocol and without precedent, but “we’re trying to be fair to both sides here.”

Kennedy spoke with reporters on a conference call on Wednesday morning. He stressed that Kavanaugh’s confirmation process is closed saved for the deciding vote, although he said he wants to hear both Blasey’s account and the Supreme Court nominee’s defense before casting a vote.

“The confirmation process is over. It’s over! I mean, we are violating senate protocol to do this, and precedent. But we were unanimous in thinking that we ought to,” Kennedy said.

The vote was scheduled for Thursday, but Ford’s accusations — that Kavanaugh drunkenly pinned her down and molested her during a high-school party more than three decades ago — delayed the timeline. Kennedy said he’s prepared to move forward with a scheduled public hearing Monday about Ford’s accusations, although she’s now instead requested the FBI look into her claims before she testifies publicly.

Kennedy said the FBI already completed six background investigations on Kavanaugh. Kavanaugh also answered hundreds of additional questions submitted in writing and had private meetings with senators.

Kennedy did not say whether he still supports Kavanaugh’s confirmation, as he wants to hear both Ford’s and Kavanaugh’s side of things.

“I’ve got to cast a vote here. And I’m not gonna do it on hearsay,” Kennedy said.

Kennedy said he called Kavanaugh, who denied Ford’s allegations.

When asked whether he thinks a sexual abuser should sit on the nation’s high court, Kennedy said:

“No, and I think sexual abuse is wrong. And I think there’s been a lot of sexual harassment in America that I certainly wasn’t aware of. Maybe I’m naive. But I talked to a lot of friends of mine, who happen to be women, who have said to me, ‘No, it happens all the time. What planet did you just parachute in from? I think we need to take it seriously. And we’re trying to take this allegation seriously. I also believe in due process. I think that the person accused has the right to his or her opportunity to say, ‘No, that didn’t happen.’ Or, ‘It happened differently.’ And that’s what we’re trying to do here. I’ve said before: this is no country for creepy old men, or creepy young men, or creepy middle-aged men. But at the same time, this is no country for denying people due process. In our country, if you’re accused of something, you have the right to defend yourself, and we’re trying to be fair to both sides here.”