In her first press briefing since the allegations against Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh emerged, Sarah Huckabee Sanders said both Christine Blasey Ford and Kavanaugh are “victims at the hands of the Democrats.” The briefing took place one day after a rally at which President Trump mocked Ford for not remembering details of her sexual assault, allegedly at the hands of Kavanaugh.
— CNN Politics (@CNNPolitics) October 3, 2018
Three critical Kavanaugh swing votes expressed disappointment in the president’s remarks, decrying them as “kind of appalling” (Sen. Jeff Flake, R-AZ), “wholly inappropriate” (Sen. Lisa Murkowski R-AK) and “just plain wrong” (Sen. Susan Collins R-ME).
Sanders, though, refused to walk back the president’s comments, choosing instead to deploy what appeared to be the agreed-upon talking points:
1. Everything Trump said was, on its face, true. (“The president was stating the facts,” Sanders said.)
2. Democrats have said worse. (“Nobody wants to hear [Bill Clinton’s] accusers voices be heard. But you’re certainly happy to hear all the others.”)
Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC) delivered similar lines on stage at the Atlantic festival earlier on Wednesday.
“Everything he said was factual,” Graham told the audience. When the moderator pushed back, calling Trump’s comments “degrading,” Graham responded: “Here’s what’s personally degrading: ‘This is what you get when you drag a $100 dollar bill through a trailer park,’” Graham said, referencing Democratic strategist James Carville’s famous attack on Paula Jones, who accused Bill Clinton of sexual assault in the ’90s.
Asked at the briefing about reports that the FBI hasn’t interviewed Kavanaugh or Ford because the White House hasn’t given investigators “clear authority” to do so, Sanders admitted as much was true, but said that the White House was taking cues from the Senate.
Sanders opened the press conference with a set of written remarks bemoaning the loss of “presumption of innocence.”
“No evidence. No independent corroboration. Just smears,” she said. She refused to explain the apparent contradiction between Trump’s calls for the presumption of innocence today and his decision in 1989 to take out a full-page ad calling for the Central Park Five to be executed. (The wrongfully-accused teenagers have been exonerated, but Trump still refuses to publicly acknowledge their innocence.)