Sen. Lindsey Graham said on Thursday he felt “ambushed as the majority” by the last-minute allegations of sexual assault against Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh.
Graham, who has emerged as one of President Trump’s most vocal defenders in the Senate, is a member of the Senate Judiciary Committee, which held a hearing on the allegations by Dr. Christine Blasey Ford. Ford and Kavanaugh, who strenuously denies the allegations, or even knowing Ford, both testified.
In comments to reporters made at the conclusion of Ford’s portion of the hearing, Graham questioned the timing of the allegations and noted the proximity of the midterm elections.
He implied this was a strategy orchestrated by the ranking Democrat on the committee, Sen. Dianne Feinstein of California.
“I’m really upset that Dianne Feinstein believed this was a credible allegation that you wouldn’t do Judge Kavanaugh the service of saying, ‘I’ve got this. What’s your side of the story?’ Turn it over to the committee so we could have this not so close to the midterms,” Graham said. “When they say she wasn’t sure we were willing to go out there, that’s a bunch of bull. I don’t know what they told Ms. Ford. But we were willing to go to California. We were told she couldn’t fly. All I can say is that we’re 40-something days away from the election and their goal, not Ms. Ford’s goal, is to delay this past the midterms so they can win the Senate and never allow Trump to fill this seat. I believe that now more than ever. I don’t know who paid for her polygraph but somebody did and here’s what I’m more convinced of: The friends on the other side set it up to be just the way it is. I feel ambushed as the majority.”
Feinstein defended her handling of the letter sent to her by Ford that described the alleged sexual assault.
“She reiterated that she wanted this held confidential and I held it confidential up to a point where the witness was willing to come forward,” Feinstein said. “And I think, as I make my remarks, perhaps you’ll see why, because how women are treated in the United States with this kind of concern is really wanting a lot of reform.”
Graham called Ford “a nice lady” but implied he didn’t believe her account.
“When it comes to where it happened, I still don’t know. I don’t know when it happened. She said she’s 100 percent certain it did happen. I bet you Judge Kavanaugh will say ‘I’m a hundred percent sure I didn’t do it.’ The people named say they don’t know what Ms. Ford’s talking about. She can’t tell us how she got home that night, how she got there,” Graham said. “That’s the facts I’m left with: a nice lady who has come forward to tell a hard story that’s uncorroborated.”
Democrats have asked for a full F.B.I. investigation into Ford’s claims, but Trump has so far refused, leaving matters at a he-said-she-said stalemate. Graham saw that as unavoidable.
“If this is enough, God helps anybody else that gets nominated,” Graham said. “Based on what I heard today, you could not get a search warrant or an arrest warrant, because you don’t know the location, you don’t know the time and you don’t have any corroboration.