Sens. Claire McCaskill and Roy Blunt — usually on opposite political sides — offered nearly identical reactions to the sexual assault allegations against federal Judge Brett Kavanaugh, a sign of the high political stakes for both GOP leaders and red state Democrats as the Senate weighs the judge’s nomination to the Supreme Court.
Blunt, a member of Senate leadership, has given full-throated support to Kavanaugh’s nomination. But in a statement Monday, the Missouri Republican called for the Senate to slow the process to look into allegations Kavanaugh sexually assaulted a peer as a teenager.
“These are serious allegations that need to be looked at closely by the committee before any other action is taken,” Blunt said.
McCaskill has been closely scrutinized by both sides of the aisle for how she’ll vote on President Donald Trump’s nominee as she runs for re-election in a state Trump won by double digits. The Missouri Democrat has been attacked by both conservatives and progressives for not taking a firm stance on the judge’s nomination to the high court.
“I am deeply troubled by these allegations. They should be examined thoroughly and fairly by the Judiciary Committee without any artificial timeline,” said McCaskill, who has spent years advocating for legislation to combat sexual assault on college campuses, in the military and at government agencies.
In a July letter, Christine Blasey Ford, a professor at Palo Alto University in California, accused President Donald Trump’s nominee to the court of physically and sexually assaulting her when they were both high school students in the 1980s.
Kavanaugh has denied the allegations, which became public last week after the letter was letter was disclosed last week by Sen. Dianne Feinstein, D-California.
McCaskill’s GOP opponent, Missouri Attorney General Josh Hawley, said in a statement late Monday that he was concerned that “Feinstein and the Democrats waited until the last hour to bring this 30-year old allegation to light. The Democrats have played politics with this entire process and were opposed to Brett Kavanaugh before he was even nominated. They don’t care about the truth.”
However, Hawley, the state’s top law enforcement official, also said that he believes “allegations of sexual misconduct should never be disregarded. That’s why it’s important that both Dr. Ford and Judge Kavanaugh be heard immediately and under oath.”
The Trump-endorsed Republican initially dodged a question about the allegations against Kavanaugh after Friday’s Senate debate in St. Louis. Hawley previously urged former Missouri Gov. Eric Greitens to resign earlier this year in the face of allegations of sexual violence.
Before the allegations against Kavanaugh became public, Blunt touted Kavanaugh’s personal background in a speech on the Senate floor earlier this month and criticized Democratic efforts to slow his nomination.
“He’s a church volunteer, mentoring people at schools. He has been widely supported by those who have dealt with him, his classmates, his colleagues, his clerks, lawyers, legal scholars,” Blunt said at the time.
Trump Monday accepted the possibility that a vote on Kavanaugh’s nomination would be delayed.
“If it takes a little delay, it’ll take a little delay. It shouldn’t certainly be very much. But again, this is something that should have been brought up long before this. They had the information in July as I understand it. That’s a long time ago and nobody mentioned it until the other day,” Trump said, according to a White House pool report.
The Kansas City Star’s Steve Vockrodt contributed to this report.
Bryan Lowry: 202-383-6167, @BryanLowry3