By Carlo Versano
Republicans were walking a fine line Monday in their response to sexual assault allegations against Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh dating back to when he was a teenager.
Christine Blasey Ford told the Washington Post in an interview published Sunday that Kavanaugh had pinned her against a bed, groped her, and covered her mouth when they were both high school students attending a party in the early 1980s.
Making the rounds on morning television, Ford's lawyer, Debra Katz, said her client would be willing to testify in front of the Senate Judiciary Committee about the encounter. By late in the evening, CNN was reporting that both would testify before the committee next Monday, setting potentially an extraordinary confrontation between President's choice for the nation's top court and his accuser.
Her testimony would be welcome for Marc Lotter, a former special assistant to President Trump and press secretary to Vice President Pence. "The woman needs to be heard," Lotter said in an interview on Cheddar Monday, in which he also questioned why the allegations were coming to light now.
It echoed the relatively subdued response from Kellyanne Conway, current counselor to the president, who told Fox News that Ford's allegations should not be ignored, while also mentioning that Kavanaugh had adamantly denied them.
The president, speaking to the press pool Monday afternoon, lauded Kavanaugh's record but said "a little delay" might be needed on the upcoming vote. "I’d like to see a complete process," Trump said said. He added that he had not spoken to Kavanuagh since the Ford allegations surfaced.
Lotter said that Kavanaugh has "a long personal history that is very positive," noting his 36 years in public service and the dozens of women who wrote a letter in support of the judge last week when initial reports came out about the allegations.
The responses from Lotter and Conway were indicative of what seems to be the coalescing GOP political calculus around Kavanaugh's now imperiled nomination ー show some sensitivity to the #MeToo movement and victims of sexual assault, but remain firm in support of the judge.
But Jenna Ellis, a contributor to the conservative Washington Examiner, took a more combative tone in both an article she wrote and a separate interview on Cheddar Monday.
She said the allegations were part of a "leftist" coordinated hit job that was "unhinged and evil." Ellis argued that, if successful, delaying Kavanaugh's confirmation vote would set a new precedent. "A Senate confirmation hearing is not a criminal trial," she said. "The nomination absolutely should go forward."
To many women, the reminders of Anita Hill's testimony in 1991 were hard to ignore. That event, in which Hill accused nominee Clarence Thomas of making sexual overtures toward her when he was her boss, became the basis for how sexual harassment in the workplace came into the public consciousness said Kate Shaw, professor at Cardozo School of Law.
Sexual harassment "wasn't even on the country's radar" in 1991, she said.
If Kavanaugh's accuser does indeed testify, Shaw said the lessons of Hill's testimony and the nasty aftermath would "hopefully" mean "we're going to see them approached in a very different spirit."
For full interview click here.