Speaking to reporters from the United Nations on Monday morning, President Trump reaffirmed his support for Brett Kavanaugh, whose Supreme Court nomination is facing serious headwinds after The New Yorker published a story Sunday night in which a woman alleges that he exposed himself to her at Yale in the early 1980s.
“He is a fine man with an unblemished past and these are highly unsubstantiated statements from people represented by lawyers,” Trump said. “We should look into the lawyers doing the representation. Judge Kavanaugh is an outstanding person, and I am with him all the way.”
Trump went on: “There’s a chance that this could be one of the single-most unfair, unjust things to happen to a candidate for anything but I am with Judge Kavanaugh and I look forward to a vote.”
Shortly after The New Yorker story came out, the White House made clear that it would not be abandoning its nominee. It sent out a long list of talking points highlighting weaknesses in the story of Deborah Ramirez, the woman who recounted her story to the magazine.
This tactic was hardly a surprise, given Trump’s strong aversion to backing down or looking weak in the face of attack from political opponents. Of course, the president also a long history of rallying to the defense of men accused of sexual misconduct (unless they’re Democrats). For instance, he urged Alabama voters to cast ballots for Roy Moore last year; defended White House aide Rob Porter even after credible accounts of spousal abuse; and, of course, positioned his own bragging about sexual assault as “locker room talk” back in 2016.
Ultimately, though, the White House may not be the most important player in the unfolding Supreme Court drama. If Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell decides that Kavanaugh’s nomination is untenable — or if key senators Lisa Murkowski and Susan Collins announce their opposition — Trump’s protestations that the left is trying to take down another innocent man won’t matter much.