McConnell: Senators were ‘literally under assault’ during Kavanaugh hearings
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said Monday that Republican senators were “literally under assault” by a coordinated effort to intimidate them during the confirmation hearings of Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh.
“These demonstrators — I’m sure some of them were well-meaning citizens, but many of them were obviously trained to get in our faces, to go to our homes up there, basically almost to attack us in the halls of the Capitol,” McConnell (R-Ky.) said. “So there was a full-scale effort to intimidate as well as to eliminate fundamental notions of fairness and due process, such as the presumption of innocence.”
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McConnell made the comments at a news conference shortly before Kavanaugh’s ceremonial swearing-in at the White House, bringing to a close one of the most contentious Supreme Court confirmations in the country’s recent history.
Kavanaugh was confirmed Saturday by a 50-48 vote in the Senate despite allegations of sexual assault brought against him by multiple women and protests by thousands of people in Washington and around the country. In some cases, protesters in the Capitol confronted GOP lawmakers, holding open elevators to confront them and demand Kavanagh’s rejection.
McConnell’s comments were in line with suggestions by President Donald Trump, who denounced the protesters as being part of a coordinated smear campaign funded by liberal donors like George Soros. Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa), chairman of the Judiciary Committee, said he believes Soros was behind the efforts to block Kavanaugh because “it fits his attack mode.”
“The very rude elevator screamers are paid professionals only looking to make Senators look bad. Don’t fall for it! Also, look at all of the professionally made identical signs. Paid for by Soros and others. These are not signs made in the basement from love! #Troublemakers,” Trump wrote on Twitter Friday.
While ultimately unsuccessful in blocking Kavanaugh, the Capitol Hill protests against him generated mixed results. Protesters who confronted Sen. Jeff Flake (R-Ariz.) appeared to convince him that further investigation into the allegations against Kavanaugh were needed, prompting the Arizona lawmaker to demand a week-long probe into the accusations before he would be willing to vote yes on the justice’s confirmation.
Other senators were more confrontational. Sen. Orrin Hatch (R-Utah) told a group of protesters demanding to speak to him that “when you grow up, I’ll be glad to.” And Sen. Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.), the lone Democrat to vote in Kavanaugh’s favor, snapped back at protesters, asking “how do you know how I’m going to vote?” before he voted to confirm Kavanaugh.
McConnell’s own Washington home was not spared as protesters held a keg party Friday in front of his townhouse, mimicking Kavanaugh’s Senate testimony by chanting “I like beer, I like beer.”