“I hope that Judge Kavanaugh and Dr. Ford both get a fair hearing,” Senator David Perdue, a Georgia Republican, said on NBC’s Meet the Press. He said Ford had brought forward “serious allegations” that needed to be heard. When asked how senators should assess the testimony, Perdue avoided a specific answer and described the goal as “to find the truth, just like in any courtroom in our land.” Asked about a push to get Kavanaugh confirmed quickly—as Majority Leader Mitch McConnell suggested Friday at a conference for social conservatives, promising to “plow right through it”—Perdue averred that there is “absolutely no rush to judgment.” But he also said he expects a hearing and a decision this week.
Senator Lindsey Graham, a South Carolina Republican on the committee, sounded less earnest about it. He seemed to suggest that Ford’s testimony could not change his vote. “All the people who have been named say it didn’t happen,” Graham said, somewhat distorting the report of a possible partygoer saying she did not remember a party with Kavanaugh.
“I want to listen to her, but … what do you expect me to do?” Graham said, adding that “I’m not going to ruin Judge Kavanaugh’s life over [an] accusation this vague, not verified in any way.” Graham added a political spin, trying to blame Democrats for her accusation without blaming Ford herself: “I feel sorry for her. I think she’s being used here.”
Nikki Haley, the U.S. ambassador to the United Nations, briefly addressed the issue on CBS’s Face the Nation. The host, John Dickerson, pointed to her previous statements that people describing sexual abuse should be heard—even when they are accusing her boss, President Trump. When Dickerson asked Haley how to assess the allegations against Kavanaugh, she responded: “I think it’s very important that accusers are heard and that their story is heard. But I also think the accused needs to be heard … And they need to do it quickly, for the sake of both families.” Both Ford’s and Kavanaugh’s family has reported a slew of threats since her allegation became public.
Meanwhile, Democrats argued that a fair hearing required more outside investigation and suggested different standards for determining what happened. On CNN’s State of the Union, Senator Mazie Hirono of Hawaii staked out an aggressive position about people alleging sexual assault: “If their stories are credible, as Dr. Ford’s story is, they need to be believed.” She dodged Jake Tapper’s question on the presumption of innocence, pivoting to blast Kavanaugh’s “credibility issues” since he carries an “ideological agenda” and is “outcome driven.” As she repeated those talking points about Kavanaugh’s legal rulings, she added, “He’s very much against women’s reproductive choice.”
Conservatives quickly jumped on Hirono’s statements. GOP Senator Orrin Hatch’s office tweeted, “Suggesting someone doesn’t deserve the presumption of innocence for an accusation of attempted rape because you have concerns about their views of Roe v. Wade is a fairly stunning admission about the politics at play here.” The pundit Erick Erickson chimed in, “We need Senator Hirono on TV as much as possible this week to talk about Kavanaugh. She seems to be the only honest Democrat, admitting the acccusation [sic] is irrelevant, it’s his positions that matter and this just makes it easier to oppose him.”