Kavanaugh Claims Give Vulnerable Democrats In Senate Cover To Oppose Him

The sexual-misconduct allegations against Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh may remove pressure that some Democratic senators faced to back his confirmation as a way of reassuring conservative voters in congressional elections just seven weeks away.

Since Kavanaugh was nominated to the high court by President Donald Trump, Democratic senators from states that Trump won in 2016 were locked in a dilemma. If they didn’t vote in favor of Kavanaugh’s confirmation, they would have appeared to be out of step with voters at home and risked losing re-election. Vote for him, and they would hand the president a bipartisan victory.

The allegation that Kavanaugh assaulted a woman while in high school, however, now gives those endangered Democrats an escape hatch. They can oppose the nominee without appearing to voters as if they are defying the president, strategists said. Kavanaugh has denied the assault allegation, calling it “completely false.”

November’s congressional elections will determine whether Republicans retain a majority not only in the Senate but in the House of Representatives as well. Democrats are currently favored to take the House, while becoming increasingly confident of adding the two Senate seats that would give them control of that chamber.

Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Chuck Grassley said on Monday the committee would hold a public hearing with Kavanaugh and his accuser, Christine Blasey Ford, in a week.

Senate Republicans seemed to recognize the danger of appearing insensitive, said Ford O’Connell, a Republican strategist.

Trump, too, offered some temperate remarks at the White House, stressing the importance of going “through a full process.”

O’Connell said a concerted stand against Kavanaugh could motivate Republican voters to go the polls.

Read more from James Oliphant at Reuters

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