Welcome to another round of Capitol Hill lawmakers responding to President Donald Trump’s sexist remarks, this time after he mocked Christine Blasey Ford, who has accused Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh of sexually assaulting her when they were teenagers.
“It made me feel sort of sick,” Sen. Angus King (I-Maine) told CNN Wednesday morning, hours after Trump ridiculed Blasey’s accusation at a campaign rally amid laughter and shouts of “lock her up.” “I don’t understand why he felt he had to do that.”
Trump used Blasey’s “powerful testimony” as “a political rally punchline,” King added, and it won’t serve him well with senators who are swing votes on Kavanaugh’s nomination — particularly Republican Sens. Lisa Murkowski (Alaska), Susan Collins (Maine) and Jeff Flake (Ariz.).
Flake, a vocal Trump critic who has nevertheless rubber-stamped Trump policies and appointees in the past, on Wednesday called the president’s rally attack on Blasey “kind of appalling.”
“Well, there is no time and no place for remarks like that, but to discuss something this sensitive at a political rally is just not right,” Flake said on NBC’s “Today” show. “I wish he hadn’t have done it.”
Collins told reporters on Capitol Hill that Trump’s attacks “were just plain wrong.”
Trump, in an angry rant at a Mississippi rally Tuesday night, stuck up for Kavanaugh against the sexual assault claims and openly mocked Blasey’s Senate testimony.
“So many different charges,” Trump said of Kavanaugh. “Guilty until proven innocent …. That’s very dangerous for our country. I have it myself all the time. Let it happen to me. Shouldn’t happen to him.”
Even Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.), one of Kavanaugh’s fiercest defenders on the Senate Judiciary Committee, said, “I didn’t particularly like” Trump’s attack on Blasey.
“I would tell him, knock it off. You’re not helping,” Graham said Wednesday at The Atlantic Festival in Washington.
But Graham defended Trump’s rant as “a factual rendition,” questioning Blasey’s accusation and arguing “Kavanaugh was treated like crap.”
Trump’s vicious remarks were another chapter in his long history of attacking sexual assault accusers and siding with their alleged abusers.
During his presidential campaign, Trump — accused of sexual misconduct by at least 20 women — denigrated some by suggesting they were not attractive enough to be sexually assaulted.
“She is a liar,” Trump said of People magazine reporter Natasha Stoynoff, who revealed in 2016 that Trump attacked her while she was writing a profile of him in 2005. “Check out her Facebook page, you’ll understand.”
He said of another accuser: “She would not be my first choice, that I can tell you.” Pointing to yet another, he said: “Look at her. I don’t think so.”
Scores of Republicans in the past have condemned Trump’s misogyny ― especially after the release of the 2005 “Access Hollywood” outtake of him bragging about groping women ― but back him anyway.
Three women have accused Kavanaugh of sexual misconduct when he was in high school or college. Blasey testified movingly how, when they were in high school, he and a friend pushed her into a room, where a drunken Kavanaugh held her down, groped her and held his hand over her mouth when she tried to scream.
Flake led calls from Senate moderates for an FBI probe into the allegations before the full Senate votes on Kavanaugh’s confirmation.
Flake said Sunday that Kavanaugh’s nomination “will be over” if the probe shows he lied in his Senate testimony. Kavanaugh appears to have been evasive or dishonest about multiple topics, including his drinking.
This article has been updated to include Sen. Lindsey Graham’s comments.