McConnell says Kavanaugh will get up-or-down vote; blasts Senate Dems for 'smear campaign'

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., vowed that lawmakers will vote to confirm Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh in the “near future,” during a speech on the Senate floor in which he strongly criticized Democrats for what he continually called a “smear campaign” against the judge.

“The Democrats have already made up their minds and chosen their tactics,” McConnell said. “Delay. Obstruct. Resist.”

The Kentucky lawmaker added: “This shameful smear campaign has hit a new low... Senate Democrats are trying to destroy a man’s personal and professional life.”

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Senate Judiciary Committee Republicans were huddling in McConnell's office Monday evening to discuss the state of the nomination.

McConnell’s speech came as the controversy over Kavanaugh’s confirmation took another twist when a new accusation landed late Sunday in a report from The New Yorker. It came just a few hours after negotiators had reached an agreement to hold an extraordinary public hearing Thursday for Kavanaugh and Christine Blasey Ford, who accuses him of sexually assaulting her at a party when they were teenagers. Kavanaugh denies the claim.

In the second allegation, Deborah Ramirez told The New Yorker that Kavanaugh exposed himself at a drunken dormitory party at Yale in the 1983-84 school year.

In his speech, McConnell referenced the reluctance of the New York Times – a frequent punching bag for President Trump and conservative lawmakers – to print Ramirez’s allegations. The New York Times reported that it “could find no one with firsthand knowledge” of the incident described by Ramirez and noted that “Ms. Ramirez herself contacted former Yale classmates asking if they recalled the incident and told some of them that she could not be certain Mr. Kavanaugh was the one who exposed himself.”

In a play off the New York Times slogan “All the News That’s Fit to Print,” McConnell said “the latest allegation is not fit to print” and added that Senate Democrats “just wanted another hit in the press.”

Despite the New Yorker also raising concerns about Ramirez’s claims – the magazine reported that she “was reluctant to characterize Kavanaugh’s role in the alleged incident with certainty” – one of the piece’s writers, Ronan Farrow, told ABC on Monday that there are "several people in this story who back Ms. Ramirez."

Both Ramirez’s allegations and McConnell’s speech come just days before both Kavanaugh and Ford are expected to testify in front of the Senate Judiciary Committee about her claims. Two other Senate Republicans, Lindsey Graham of South Carolina and Tom Cotton of Arkansas, are also urging a vote after the hearing with Ford.

President Trump also pledged his support for Kavanaugh on Monday, saying the sexual misconduct allegations against his choice are "totally political."

Trump, at the United Nations in New York, declared that Kavanaugh is "outstanding," and added, "I am with him all the way."

Fox News' Chad Pergram and The Associated Press contributed to this report.