President Trump said Tuesday that the furor surrounding the sexual assault accusations against Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh shows that it is “a very scary time for young men in America," and charged that men are now being held to a "guilty until proven innocent" standard when it comes to sexual assault allegations.
“My whole life, I’ve heard you’re innocent until proven guilty,” Trump told reporters outside the White House. “But now you’re guilty until proven innocent. That is a very, very difficult standard.”
Trump was commenting amid an FBI investigation into sexual assault allegations by multiple women against Kavanaugh in the 1980s. Kavanaugh repeatedly has denied all such allegations against him.
Democrats have said that the allegations require further investigation, and suggested his nomination be withdrawn. They also have criticized Kavanaugh for his angry testimony about the allegations -- which include being present at a gang rape -- when he testified to the Senate Judiciary Committee on Thursday. Democrats said that his calling out of Democrats raises questions about how he will behave on the bench.
But Trump and Republicans have defended Kavanaugh, and Trump again stood by his nominee on Tuesday, saying that the way the allegations were being treated shows it’s a “very difficult time” for young men.
“I say that it’s a very scary time for young men in America when you can be guilty of something that you may not be guilty of,” he said. “This is a very difficult time. What’s happening here has much more to do than even the appointment of a Supreme Court justice, it really does. You can be somebody that was perfect your entire life and somebody could accuse you of something, doesn’t necessarily have to be a woman as everyone says, but someone accuses you of something and you’re automatically guilty but in this realm you are truly guilty until proven innocent .”
He also backed his nominee’s performance on Thursday.
“I thought he did very well. He's fighting very hard for his reputation for his family. I thought what happened was really tough. It was tough stuff,” he said.
The FBI investigation, which Trump ordered after pressure from Sen. Jeff Flake, R-Ariz., is limited to a week and both Trump and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell have said that the Senate should vote on Kavanaugh this week.
The Republicans have a slim majority in the Senate and can afford few defections if Kavanaugh is to be confirmed.