As Senators in both parties called for additional hearings into questions about possible sexual misconduct involving Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh, President Donald Trump on Monday expressed his strong support for the federal appeals court judge, chiding Democrats for springing allegations of sexual misconduct at the eleventh hour.
"This is something that should have been brought up long before this," the President told reporters during a White House photo op.
While Mr. Trump did not comment directly on the charge made by Dr. Christine Blasey Ford, that Kavanaugh had committed a sexual assault on her during a party when they were teenagers in the 1980's, the President made clear where he stood.
"Judge Kavanaugh is one of the finest people I have ever known," he said of his Supreme Court pick.
When one reporter asked the President if Judge Kavanaugh was going to withdraw his nomination, Mr. Trump gave it the back of his hand, saying Kavanaugh is still 'on track.'
"Next question. What a ridiculous question," the President said flatly.
President Trump did not say whether he thought the Senate should hold additional public hearings, which could prove politically explosive, much as the Anita Hill-Clarence Thomas episode back in 1991, when the Senate narrowly confirmed Thomas to the Supreme Court, despite charges of sexual harassment leveled by Hill.
"They had the information in July," the President said of Democrats. "That's a long time ago," as Republicans criticized Democrats for holding on to the anonymous charge for months, and not pressing it until just days before a scheduled committee vote.
In his comments, the President showed no signs of concern about Kavanaugh's future.
"They had the information in July, if I understand it," the President said of Democrats, who knew months ago that Ford was main
"If it takes a little delay, it takes a little delay," he added.
On the Senate floor, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell joined in the President's criticism, criticizing Democrats for holding back the allegations until the last minute.
While some GOP Senators said they would be open to hearing from Ford, it wasn't clear whether that would be in a public setting, as the Chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, Sen. Charles Grassley (R-IA) promised 'bipartisan interviews' of Ford.
"There are serious questions about Judge Kavanaugh's record, truthfulness, and character," Democrats on the Senate Judiciary Committee wrote in a letter, demanding that they be 'thoroughly evaluated and answered.'
Democrats also received the support of a key swing vote, Sen. Susan Collins (R-ME), who said in a tweet that both the judge and his accuser should go before the Judiciary Committee.
"I’m urging Senate Republicans on the Judiciary Committee to delay a vote on Judge Kavanaugh," said Sen. Dick Durbin (D-IL). "Congress cannot take these new allegations lightly."
"Dr. Ford deserves to be heard," said Senate Democratic Leader Charles Schumer.