WASHINGTON – President Donald Trump should renominate Brett Kavanaugh if the Senate fails to confirm him for the Supreme Court this year, Sen. Lindsey Graham declared Tuesday.
The South Carolina Republican said he still believes Kavanaugh will be confirmed to the high court soon. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., has vowed that the Senate will vote on Kavanaugh this week.
But Graham offered Trump a contingency plan in case the nominee is narrowly defeated.
“If his nomination were to fall short, I would encourage President Trump to re-nominate Judge Kavanaugh to the Supreme Court,” Graham said in a statement. “It would – in effect – be appealing the Senate’s verdict directly to the American people.”
Graham discussed the strategy in more detail on Fox News, saying that Trump could use the issue in the midterm elections to go after Democratic Sens. Joe Donnelly of Indiana, Heidi Heitkamp of North Dakota, Joe Manchin of West Virginia and Claire McCaskill of Missouri. The four Democrats represent Republican-leaning states that Trump won in 2016.
Trump could announce to voters in those states that he would nominate Kavanaugh again in 2019, after a new Senate convenes, Graham said.
“The midterm elections are only 35 days away and a new group of senators may view Judge Kavanaugh’s nomination very differently after hearing from the voters in their states,” Graham said in his statement.
Asked about Graham’s idea, Trump told reporters Tuesday that “certainly it’s interesting.”
If Democrats win the Senate, Kavanaugh would be a non-starter. However, there are more vulnerable Democrats than Republicans in this year’s midterm elections.
Graham, who serves on the Senate Judiciary Committee, has been a fierce defender of Kavanaugh despite allegations that Kavanaugh engaged in sexual misconduct while he was drunk in high school and college. The FBI has reopened its background investigation of Kavanaugh to conduct a week-long probe that is expected to conclude by Friday.
“I can only imagine how awful this entire process has been for Judge Kavanaugh and his family,” Graham said Tuesday. “I truly admire Judge Kavanaugh’s determination –along with that of his family – to not quit in the face of the outrageous accusations that have been leveled against him.”
Graham urged senators who support Kavanaugh “not to give up on him.”
Chistine Blasey Ford testified before the Senate Judiciary Committee on Thursday that Kavanaugh sexually assaulted her at a high school house party in the early 1980s when she was 15 and he was 17.
Ford said Kavanaugh pinned her down on the bed of an upstairs room and tried to remove her clothes while holding his hand over her mouth to prevent her from screaming. She said she broke free when Kavanaugh’s friend, Mark Judge, jumped on them and sent them tumbling off the bed.
Kavanaugh and Judge have denied the accusations.
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