President Trump on Monday stood by his embattled Supreme Court nominee amid accusations of sexual assault, calling Brett Kavanaugh one of the “finest people that I have ever known” while acknowledging a "little delay" may be necessary before the nomination is voted on in the Senate.
In his first public comments on the controversy, the president also criticized Democrats over the timing of the allegation.
“I wish the Democrats could have done this a lot sooner because they had this information for many months," Trump told reporters at the White House. "And they shouldn't have waited until literally the last days. They should have done it a lot sooner.”
The president indicated he’s open to delaying the confirmation proceedings in Congress while the allegations are investigated.
"If it takes a little delay it'll take a little delay," Trump said. "It shouldn't certainly be very much."
The Senate Judiciary Committee has been scheduled to vote on Kavanaugh’s confirmation Thursday, but Democrats have called for that to be postponed.
Trump called it a “ridiculous question" when asked if Kavanaugh has offered to withdraw his nomination.
"You’re talking about an individual who is as high a quality individual as you will ever see," Trump said.
Earlier Monday, Kavanaugh forcefully denied the sexual assault allegations against him.
“This is a completely false allegation. I have never done anything like what the accuser describes—to her or to anyone,” Kavanaugh said in a statement. “Because this never happened, I had no idea who was making the accusation until she identified herself yesterday.”
Republicans and Democrats on the Hill spent Monday sparring over the time and venue for accuser Christine Ford to discuss her allegations with senators.
Kavanaugh, who was seen at the White House on Monday, said in his statement he’s willing to talk to the committee “in any way the committee deems appropriate to refute this false allegation, from 36 years ago, and defend my integrity.”
Ford, through her attorney, said she would be willing to appear before the Judiciary committee.
Chairman Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa, said Monday he is working to schedule “follow-up calls with relevant parties” to discuss the allegations, but said California Democratic Sen. Dianne Feinstein, the top Democrat on the Committee, has “refused.”
“Anyone who comes forward as Dr. Ford has deserves to be heard, so I will continue working on a way to hear her out in an appropriate, precedented and respectful manner,” he said.
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said he’s pleased Grassley is “following standard practice and regular order” and will pursue this matter “by the book” with bipartisan interviews of Kavanaugh and Ford.
All 10 Democrats on the committee on Monday, though, urged Grassley to postpone the vote.
Ford, a California-based professor, revealed her identity over the weekend in a Washington Post report, following a letter obtained by Feinstein alleging sexual assault. She said that Kavanaugh, while in high school, pinned her down, tried to remove her bathing suit and put his hand over her mouth when she attempted to scream.
The letter was sent to Feinstein in July but the Democrat didn't go public about the accusation until last week.
Kavanaugh issued a statement “categorically and unequivocally” denying the allegations when they first came out.
But Ford’s attorney, Debra Katz, told NBC’s “Today” that her client believes Kavanaugh attempted to rape her.
“She clearly considers this an attempted rape,” Katz said Monday. “She believes that if it were not for the severe intoxication of Kavanaugh, she would have been raped.”
Katz also said Monday that her client was “willing to take whatever it takes to get her story forth,” and would testify before the committee under oath.
Meanwhile, the White House defended both Kavanaugh and Ford, noting that the woman deserved to be heard.
“This woman should not be insulted and she should not be ignored. I think the Senate is headed toward a reasonable approach, allowing this woman to be heard in sworn testimony, allowing Judge Kavanaugh to be heard in sworn testimony,” White House Counselor Kellyanne Conway told “Fox & Friends” Monday.
Fox News’ Brooke Singman contributed to this report.