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Cornyn: Some Democrats may back Kavanaugh

U.S. Sen. John Cornyn, R-Texas, said Wednesday that the FBI may have concluded its supplemental background check of Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh and that some Democrats may join in confirming him by Friday.

Speaking for 30 minutes by conference call from Washington, D.C., to Texas news reporters, Cornyn, the No. 2 Republican in the Senate, also expressed some confidence in an affirmative vote.

He described the Capitol Hill atmosphere as “all Kavanaugh, all the time” and said the Kavanaugh hearings may pose a danger to future confirmation efforts due to the “unprecedented” attacks on the nominee.

“It’s no longer a search for the truth or for the facts,” Cornyn said, referring to the committee work as “a circus” and a “search and destroy mission” against Kavanaugh.

“Is this a precedent for future nominations?” he asked rhetorically.

He also noted that three Democrats voted for Associate Justice Neil Gorsuch’s nomination in 2017 and suggested that incumbent Democrats running for re-election in states that Trump carried in 2016 may be listening to their constituents.

The July 10 nomination of Kavanaugh to the Supreme Court was followed by denunciations by Senate Democrats who vowed to not vote for the nominee before the hearings ever opened.

Kavanaugh appeared to be headed for narrow confirmation when Sen. Dianne Feinstein, D-California, sent a letter, which she had received in late July, to the FBI on Sept. 13. The letter, written by Christine Blasey Ford, a psychology researcher,  accused Kavanaugh of sexually assaulting her at a party when they were teens, some 36 years before.

Cornyn said Wednesday that he wanted Ford’s accusations to be heard in a fair and respectful way but also suggested that Kavanaugh, too, deserved fair and respectful treatment by senators.

Because the judge has been accused of crimes, Cornyn said, “stakes are very high.”

In speaking with reporters, Cornyn said Ford’s testimony was not corroborated, not even by the people she identified as being at the party, which may have occurred in 1982.

“We are finding a lot of women were subjected to bad conduct by men,” Cornyn, a former judge, Texas Supreme Court justice, and state attorney general said. But he said accusations against Kavanaugh should be judged on evidence and corroboration.

Cornyn said Feinstein wants the results of the supplemental FBI investigation — its completion was imminent, Cornyn said — kept private. But Cornyn said, “In some form or another, there needs to be a public statement about what this supplemental background investigation revealed.”

He defended Kavanaugh’s fiery self-defense before the Judiciary Committee, which critics suggested showed him to have a demeanor or temperament unsuited for the high court.

While he said he might have edited some of the judge’s responses, the American Bar Association had given Kavanaugh the highest grades for courtroom demeanor.

Asked about President Trump mocking Ford’s testimony in a public appearance this week, Cornyn referred to the president’s words as “not useful.”

“I wish the president would leave the confirmation battle up to the Senate,” he said. Given the nature of the allegations, Cornyn added, the president should be respectful of the women who brought the accusations against the nominee.