It is a crucial day for Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh. A woman who has accused him of sexual misconduct, Christine Blasey Ford, will testify before the Senate Judiciary Comittee in what is expected to be a tense session. Kavanaugh will then testify before the committee again to defend himself.
Kavanaugh’s confirmation to the Supreme Court is in serious jeopardy as moderate Republicans appear to be wavering, including Senator Jeff Flake, who yesterday called on his colleagues to hear the evidence before making a decision. However, another issue may crowd out Kavanaugh’s hearing: Donald Trump’s press conference.
The President gave a rare press conference yesterday, his first this year, and answered a wide range of questions. Speaking for nearly an hour and half, Trump gave rambling and confusing answers, cut off reporters and appeared to insult female journalists.
Many commentators were shocked at Trump’s bizarre claims. At one point, he claimed that women had been paid to say they he had sexually assaulted them. Many women have come forward with accusations against Trump but there is no evidence that any of them were bribed to do so. Trump also lied, again, about winning 51% of the female vote in 2016. He won 52% of the white female vote and just 41% of women overall.
Trump also appears to have lied about refusing a meeting with Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau. He claimed, for the second time, that the New York Times would endorse him or go out of business and talked about farmers who ‘love’ him, misrepresenting soy bean prices. He also seemed to misunderstand how tariffs work.
Trump’s statements and demeanour have once again raised questions about his mental fitness. A recent report suggested that deputy attorney general Rod Rosenstein had discussed invoking the 25th Amendment to remove the President. Following last night’s press conference, there will be more public discussion of Trump’s mental health.
The President’s decision to give a press conference has not helped Kavanaugh win confirmation. By comparing his accusers to Kavanaugh’s, he may have inadvertently drawn unhelpful attention to the issue. If he continues to comment in this way, or send tweets during Christine Blasey Ford’s testimony, it could raise further problems for him and his nominee.