Mitch McConnell says that sexual assault allegations against Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh have been brought forward “in an irregular manner,” accusing Democrats of searching for a scandal to try and delay or derail the confirmation process.
First reported by the New York Times, a woman accused Kavanaugh and a male friend of sexual assault more than 30 years ago at a party when they were teenagers.
Kavanaugh is currently a judge on the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals and was nominated by President Trump to serve on the U.S. Supreme Court following the retirement of Justice Anthony Kennedy.
McConnell said that Senate Democrats have known about the accusations for weeks and should have raised their concerns earlier.
“They did not raise it in the closed session, the proper forum where such an allegation could been addressed with discretion and sensitivity,” McConnell said in a speech on the senate floor.
“They did not raise it in the thousand-plus follow-up questions that Senators sent to Judge Kavanaugh in writing. But now – at the 11th hour, with committee votes on the schedule, after Democrats have spent weeks and weeks searching for any possible reason that the nomination should be delayed.”
Last week McConnell said that the Senate would vote on Kavanaugh’s confirmation during the last week of September, just in time for him to be on the bench for the Supreme Court’s next term, which starts Oct 1.
But first the Senate Judiciary Committee has to approve the confirmation. Kavanaugh and his accuser are both scheduled to testify during a hearing on Monday.
McConnell praised the committee’s Chair Chuck Grassley, a Republican from Iowa, for “following standard practice and regular order.”
“He plans to pursue this matter by the book. With bipartisan interviews of both judge Kavanaugh and Dr. Ford,” McConnell said.
The Washington Post identified Kavanaugh’s accuser as Christine Blasey Ford, a professor who teachers at Palo Alto University in California.
She alleged that Kavanaugh pinned her to a bed and groped her during the party in the early 1980s and that she was afraid he might “inadvertently kill” her.
Sen. Rand Paul has not responded to a request for comment on the accusations.
Earlier this summer, Paul said he was “very worried” about Kavanaugh’s record ruling in favor of broad government power to collect data about U.S. citizens without a warrant, but later threw his support behind the nominee.