On the same day that he treated the United Nations General Assembly to its own special Trump rally in a speech that drove the usually staid gathering of diplomats and bureaucrats to laughter, the president went off at impressive length about the allegations against Brett Kavanaugh during a press conference at the U.N. with the Colombian president Iván Duque Márquez. Here’s the full video of Trump’s not-so-pithy remarks:
To make the long story short, the president attacked both the women who have accused Brett Kavanaugh of sexual assault of being part of a “con” orchestrated by Democrats. Emily Stewart nicely summarizes the presidential take:
Trump repeated the “con” claim multiple times and grew angrier as he spoke. “Thirty-six years ago? Nobody ever knew about it? Nobody ever heard about it? And now a new charge comes up,” Trump said. He said to “take a look at the lawyers” who “are the same lawyers who have been fighting for years” and worried that no one will want to go before “this system” to be a judge or politician in the current environment.
He seems to have been thinking of his own experience with accusations of abuse — not an uncommon phenomenon with Trump, to be sure, but one that indicates why he is taking Kavanaugh’s plight so personally:
“I can tell you that false accusation and false accusations of all types are made against a lot of people,” Trump, who himself has been accused of sexual misconduct by more than a dozen women, said. “This is a high-quality person, and it would be a horrible insult to our country if this doesn’t happen. And it’ll be a horrible, horrible thing for future political people, judges, anything you want, it’ll be a horrible thing. It cannot be allowed to happen.”
As Stewart notes, just a week ago Trump was careful to say that Ford deserved a hearing for her allegations. Now “the wheels are off the bus for the president,” and he’s dripping with contempt that the veracity of this obscure woman Deborah Ramirez should be compared to that of a “high-quality person” like Kavanaugh:
“The second accuser has nothing. The second accuser doesn’t even know, she thinks maybe it could have been him, maybe not. She admits that she was drunk, she admits time lapses,” Trump said when asked whether Ramirez should be invited to testify before the Senate Judiciary Committee on Thursday, as Ford and Kavanaugh have been.
He continued, exasperated, “This is a person, and this is a series of statements, that’s going to take one of the most talented, one of the greatest intellects, from a judicial standpoint in our country, going to keep him off the United States Supreme Court?”
If it occurred to Trump that this line of attack would by association drag his Supreme Court nominee down into the misogynistic muck in which he has spent so much of his own life, it did not deter him. Neither of the possible explanations for this outburst is very comforting. The first is that he literally can’t stop himself from going off message and personally attacking those who would dare mess up his plans to reward the Christian right and the conservative legal movement with this Supreme Court nomination. The second is that the administration and the GOP have decided to join conservative activists and media in turning Kavanaugh’s confirmation into a holy war designed to inflame the conversation and energize conservative base voters now and in November.
We should have a better indication of why Trump keeps intervening in the Kavanaugh fight with increasingly incendiary remarks if the pattern continues in the run-up to Thursday’s dramatic Judiciary Committee hearings, and if his party follows his lead with a turn to the dark side.