Leahy Calls on Trump to Withdraw Kavanaugh Nomination | Off Message

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Leahy Calls on Trump to Withdraw Kavanaugh Nomination


Sen. Patrick Leahy - FILE: PAUL HEINTZ
  • File: Paul Heintz
  • Sen. Patrick Leahy
After a third woman accused U.S. Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh of sexual misconduct Wednesday, Sen. Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.) called on President Donald Trump to "immediately withdraw the nomination" or direct the Federal Bureau of Investigation to probe the matter. Leahy also demanded that a planned hearing and vote this week on Kavanaugh's nomination be scrapped.

In a letter Leahy and all nine other Democrats on the Senate Judiciary Committee sent Trump early Wednesday afternoon, the senators said that the president should reconsider his choice for the court. "Judge Kavanaugh has staunchly declared his respect for women and issued blanket denials of any possible misconduct, but those declarations are in serious doubt," they wrote.

The Judiciary Committee Democrats sent a second letter later Wednesday to Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa), who chairs the panel. They called on Grassley to cancel a Thursday hearing in which Kavanaugh and another alleged victim, Christine Blasey Ford, are scheduled to testify, as well as a Friday committee vote on the nomination.

"It would be an unprecedented abuse of power and abdication of our constitutional responsibilities to move forward with this nomination given the concerns about Brett Kavanaugh’s character and actions," the Democrats wrote. "We ask that you immediately request an FBI investigation or support the withdrawal of this nominee, but at a minimum the vote that has been scheduled for Friday must be canceled."

The letters came after a lawyer for Julie Swetnick released a sworn statement alleging that she had witnessed Kavanaugh drinking "excessively" at high school parties and engaging in "abuse and physically aggressive behavior toward girls." Swetnick said that Kavanaugh was present at a party during which she was gang-raped. In a statement distributed by the White House, Kavanaugh called the accusations "ridiculous and from the Twilight Zone."

Leahy has repeatedly called for a full investigation of allegations against Kavanaugh, including after Ford accused him of assault and a college acquaintance accused him of exposing himself to her. But the senator from Vermont has not previously asked the president to retract Kavanaugh's nomination — or for the nominee to withdraw from consideration.

"That's a decision only he can make," Leahy told Seven Days on Monday. "A lot of Republicans wish he would, but that's a decision only he can make."
Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) joined Leahy in calling for the withdrawal of Kavanaugh's nomination late Wednesday afternoon. In a statement posted to Facebook, Sanders said that the president and his nominee had two options.

"Number one, Trump can say I am withdrawing Judge Kavanaugh’s nomination because I am concerned about what I heard," Sanders wrote. "Or secondly, Kavanaugh himself can say, 'These allegations are not true and I want the FBI to do a thorough investigation to discredit them.'"

The third member of Vermont's congressional delegation, U.S. Rep. Peter Welch (D-Vt.), said much the same. As a member of the House, Welch does not have a vote on court nominations.

"The behavior described by Julie Swetnick is despicable," Welch said in a statement Wednesday. "If President Trump and Judge Kavanaugh refuse to ask for an FBI investigation of these serious and credible allegations, his nomination should be immediately withdrawn. He simply cannot serve on the highest court in America."