Senate Republican leaders on Monday unloaded on Democrats over their revived efforts to push college-era allegations of sexual misconduct against Supreme Court Associate Justice Brett Kavanaugh, with Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell accusing them of engaging in “not normal political behavior.”
McConnell, R-Ky., took to the Senate floor Monday afternoon to decry what he described as a familiar “pattern” involving Kavanaugh allegations: “Shoot first, correct the facts later.”
He accused Democrats of “rushing to exploit” the new accusations and “hysterically” demanding his impeachment, but maintained that a majority of senators were right to confirm him last year. He also accused Democrats of deploying the “politics of personal destruction” in their handling of both sets of allegations.
“It’s just as transparent and self-serving today,” McConnell said. In his blistering floor speech, he went on to rebuke several Senate Democrats for a recent brief that urged the Supreme Court to “heal itself” or face restructuring – which was widely seen as a threat of court-packing.
“This is not normal political behavior,” McConnell said.
South Carolina Republican Sen. Lindsey Graham, the Judiciary Committee chairman who mounted one of the most passionate defenses of Kavanaugh during his confirmation hearing, called the attacks “beyond the pale.”
“My heart goes out to Justice Kavanaugh’s family for being forced to endure this ridiculous treatment once again,” he tweeted.
Many of the Democrats seeking to unseat President Trump in 2020 over the weekend released statements calling for Congress to impeach Kavanaugh, citing The New York Times' reporting of a disputed allegation of sexual misconduct. But Graham insisted that wouldn't happen.
“As chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, I promise you Justice Kavanaugh will not be impeached over these scurrilous accusations,” Graham tweeted.
Iowa GOP Sen. Chuck Grassley, who led the Judiciary Committee during the Kavanaugh hearings, said his office never "received an allegation against Kavanaugh like the one referenced in the report over the weekend."
"We now have an uncorroborated accusation, rooted only in unnamed sources, with no direct knowledge of the event, and that the alleged victim doesn’t even remember," Grassley said. "Since when did that become something 'fit to print' by the supposed American paper of record?"
By late Sunday, the paper had revised its portrayed blockbuster story to include the fact that several friends of the alleged victim said she told them she did not recall the reported sexual assault in question.
President Trump repeatedly ripped the paper on Monday.
"The New York Times should close its doors and throw away the keys," he tweeted Monday afternoon, reacting to quotes from Fox News' Greg Gutfeld. "The women mentioned in the Kavanaugh story said she didn’t even remember the event."
As for Democrats, California Sen. Kamala Harris, who said over the weekend that Kavanaugh “must be impeached,” did not back down in a new tweet Monday, writing: “The reality of Kavanaugh's confirmation process is that it lacked any integrity — there has never been a meaningful investigation into these allegations. We need the truth.”
The Times piece by Robin Pogrebin and Kate Kelly, adapted from their forthcoming book, asserted that a Kavanaugh classmate, Clinton-connected nonprofit CEO Max Stier, “saw Mr. Kavanaugh with his pants down at a different drunken dorm party, where friends pushed his penis into the hand of a female student.”
Former Housing and Urban Development Secretary Julian Castro tweeted in response: “It’s more clear than ever that Brett Kavanaugh lied under oath. He should be impeached. And Congress should review the failure of the Department of Justice to properly investigate the matter.”
Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren wrote: “Last year the Kavanaugh nomination was rammed through the Senate without a thorough examination of the allegations against him. Confirmation is not exoneration, and these newest revelations are disturbing. Like the man who appointed him, Kavanaugh should be impeached.”
While 2020 Democrats did not back down from their impeachment calls, despite the Times revision, top Democrats in Congress appeared less eager.
House Judiciary Committee Chairman Jerry Nadler, D-N.Y., seemed to brush off his party's calls to launch impeachment proceedings against Kavanaugh, saying on a radio show Monday: “We have our hands full with impeaching the president right now.”
Meanwhile, Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., told reporters: “I am saying nothing on Kavanaugh right now.”
Fox News’ Judson Berger, Chad Pergram and Gregory Re contributed to this report.