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Ending days of restraint, Trump questions Kavanaugh accuser's claims

Ending days of restraint, Trump questions Kavanaugh accuser's claims

President tweets that if the alleged attack “was as bad as she says,” charges would have been filed by the woman
Ending days of restraint, Trump questions Kavanaugh accuser's claims
Trump speaks at a rally in Las Vegas to support Sen. Dean Heller (R-Nev.), Sept. 20, 2018.
Photographer: Tom Brenner/The New York Times

WASHINGTON — President Donald Trump directly questioned for the first time Friday the veracity of the accusations levied by a woman who has said Judge Brett Kavanaugh sexually assaulted her while they were both teenagers.

Trump said in a Twitter post that if the alleged attack “was as bad as she says,” charges would have been filed by the woman, Christine Blasey Ford, or her parents.

He asked her to produce contemporaneous law enforcement reports “so that we can learn date, time, and place!”

In suggesting that Blasey’s version of events from a high school party in the early 1980s lacked credibility, Trump ended his dayslong restraint from commenting on the accusations — a move that aides have feared could further complicate the confirmation process just weeks before the midterm elections.

Questioning the credibility of a woman who says she was sexually assaulted could jeopardize the support of key Republican senators for Kavanaugh’s nomination. It could also further energize female voters in the midterms who are opposed to Trump.

Until Friday, the president’s public comments about the matter had been limited to praise for Kavanaugh and blame lobbed at Democrats for slowing the judge’s Supreme Court confirmation process.

At the time of the incident, Blasey was about 15 years old. She said she was at a small gathering of teenagers in suburban Maryland when Kavanaugh assaulted her. She said he and a friend pushed her into a bedroom, and Kavanaugh pushed her onto a bed. She said he jumped on her, groped her and tried to take off her clothes while covering her mouth with his hand to keep her from crying for help.

Blasey has not been able to recall the date of the party where she says Kavanaugh assaulted her. He has denied the accusations. Both have said they are willing to provide sworn testimony to the Senate Judiciary Committee.

Until Friday, Trump had said he felt terrible for Kavanaugh and encouraged senators to hear from both parties before they vote on the judge’s confirmation.

The Senate had planned to vote on Kavanaugh’s confirmation Sept. 20, but the Judiciary Committee agreed to delay the decision until Blasey and Kavanaugh could testify.

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