President Donald Trump said Tuesday the controversy surrounding Brett Kavaugh’s nomination to the Supreme Court shows it is a “scary time for young men.”
“It is a very scary time for young men in America, when you can be guilty of something you may not be guilty of,” Trump told reporters on the South Lawn before leaving the White House.
Trump said Kavanaugh has been treated unfairly as multiple women have come forward to accuse the federal judge of sexual misconduct. The FBI is investigating the allegations, delaying a Senate confirmation vote.
“It’s a very scary situation where you’re guilty until proven innocent,” the president said. “That is a very, very difficult standard.”
Trump’s comments are likely to fuel the firestorm surrounding Kavanaugh’s nomination and renew questions about his attitude toward the “Me Too” movement.
Nineteen women have accused the president of sexual misconduct or said they’ve had an extramarital affair with him. Trump has denied all of the allegations.
Asked if he had a message for young women, Trump replied, “Women are doing great.”
The president said he hopes for a “positive” vote in the Senate this week for Kavanaugh, but it will “be dependent on what comes back from the FBI.”
The sexual misconduct allegations against Kavanaugh stem from his time in high school and college in the 1980s.
His first accuser, Christine Blasey Ford, delivered dramatic testimony last week before the Senate Judiciary Committee, in which she said Kavanaugh pinned her down and tried to rip off her clothes while drunk at a house party with other high school students.
Kavanaugh forcefully denied the allegations during his own testimony, which pleased Trump and his other Republican supporters.
Two other women have accused Kavanaugh of sexual misconduct while drinking excessively during his years in high school and college.
The president warned Democrats that they risk turning Kavanaugh into a martyr on the right if they block his nomination, a move he said would energize conservatives ahead of the midterm elections.
“They are so in favor of Judge Kavanaugh. It’s like a rallying cry for the Republicans,” Trump said.
But several GOP senators, led by Sen. Jeff Flake (Ariz.), are withholding their support for Kavanaugh until the FBI investigation concludes.
The White House agreed to allow the FBI expand its investigation after senators accused the administration of limiting it too narrowly, according to reports on Monday.
Several key senators have indicated they would be uncomfortable voting for Kavanaugh if the inquiry was seen as perfunctory.
But top Republicans have said they plan to move ahead with Kavanaugh’s confirmation vote this week, wary a further delay could possibly derail his nomination.
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) mocked a new story about the judge getting into a bar fight during his years at Yale University and reaffirmed his plans to hold a vote this week.
“Senators will have the opportunity to vote. We’ll have the opportunity to vote ‘no’ on the politics of personal destruction. We’ll have the opportunity to vote ‘yes’ on this fine nominee,” McConnell said on the Senate floor.