Sen. Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.) said Brett Kavanaugh’s “answers were not truthful” and that the U.S. Supreme Court nominee was “not believable” in giving sworn testimony last week related to allegations that Kavanaugh sexually assaulted a young woman while both were in high school in the 1980s.
“I hope for the sake of the country he’s not the next justice on the Supreme Court,” Leahy said in his Burlington office Monday morning. “I think it would diminish the court.”
Leahy said he’s “never seen anything like this” in Washington, D.C., referring to the past week of testimony before the U.S. Senate Judiciary Committee.
Dr. Christine Blasey Ford, a professor at Palo Alto University, accused Kavanaugh of sexually assaulting her when she was 15 and he was 17. In testimony before the Senate Judiciary Committee last week, she described the incident in detail.
Leahy said his past experience as a prosecutor in Chittenden County gave him confidence in Ford’s story.
“I would have considered her a very believable witness,” Leahy said.
Ford said that in 1982, Kavanaugh held her down on a bed and tried to remove her clothes, covering her mouth when she tried to scream for help. Leahy said Ford made an impression when he asked her what she remembers most about that night.
“She said ‘The laughter,’” Leahy recalled. “I tell you, that struck me as what I heard from sexual assault victims. The veracity in her voice [is] what I would bring prosecutions on when I was state’s attorney.”
Leahy accused Kavanaugh, a federal judge, of saying things that were “not truthful” under oath. But when asked if he thought Kavanaugh was lying, Leahy demurred.
“That would be up to somebody to take a look at and decide,” he said. “I thought he did not tell me the truth.”
Whether or not Kavanaugh lied under oath, Leahy said President Donald Trump should choose someone else for a lifetime appointment on the nation’s highest court.
“[Kavanaugh's] past record of evasions in hearings, his problems with drinking — there are better people,” Leahy said. “They could have a Republican. They could have a conservative on the Supreme Court, but have somebody the country can respect.”
As the longest-serving member of the Senate, Leahy has his own office in the U.S. Capitol building, and he said it’s become a gathering place for senators of both parties. Based on conversations in his office, Leahy said some Republicans are starting to agree with his assessment.
“I’m sensing a concern by many that maybe they ought to try somebody else,” Leahy said.
Returning to Washington for the week, Leahy said he planned to meet with fellow members of the Senate Judiciary Committee about last week's hearings and try to turn Republicans against Kavanaugh.
The FBI is investigating Ford’s allegations, and Leahy said he hopes investigators will “talk with everybody” and find some answers. Absent from last Thursday's hearing was Mark Judge, a friend of Kavanaugh's who Ford testified was in the room during the 1982 sex assault.
Leahy said the Senate should “take another week or two” before voting on Kavanaugh’s confirmation. Republican leaders have pushed for a full vote in the Senate by the end of this week.
“Let’s get a better understanding of who he is,” Leahy said.