Kansas Sen. Roberts lashes out at Democrats over Kavanaugh hearing; Moran says he will vote to confirm

Kansas Sens. Pat Roberts, left, and Jerry Moran

TOPEKA – U.S. Sen. Pat Roberts, of Kansas, lashed out at Senate Democrats on Friday over their handling of confirmation hearings for U.S. Supreme Court nominee Judge Brett Kavanaugh.

In a statement, Roberts called the Democrats’ actions “embarrassing” and said that their attacks against Kavanaugh “have contributed to the denigration of the Senate as an institution and more important, to the fundamental American judicial principle that one is innocent until proven guilty.”

Roberts’ statement followed an emotional day of testimony Thursday when Christine Blasey Ford, a psychology professor, claimed that Kavanaugh had sexually assaulted her when they were teenagers in 1982, while Kavanaugh categorically denied he had ever known her or sexually assaulted anyone.

The Senate Judiciary Committee voted Thursday along party lines to advance Kavanaugh’s nomination to the full Senate. Later in the day, though, President Donald Trump ordered the FBI to reopen its investigation into Kavanaugh’s background after two Republican senators, Jeff Flake, of Arizona, and Lisa Murkowski, of Alaska, said they would not vote to confirm Kavanaugh until after such an investigation occurred, something Democrats have been calling for but which Republicans had refused to go along with.

Flake also asked Senate leaders for a delay of at least a week to complete the investigation. That means Kavanaugh could not be seated on the court before its 2018-2019 term begins on Monday, Oct. 1.

The Senate is currently made up of 51 Republicans, 47 Democrats and two independents who caucus with Democrats. It takes 51 votes to confirm a U.S. Supreme Court nominee.

Kavanaugh was nominated to fill a vacancy on the court created by the retirement earlier this year of Justice Anthony Kennedy.

“The manipulation and abuse of both witnesses was deeply regrettable and sets a dangerous precedent for both victims and the accused,” Roberts, the senior senator from Kansas, said in the statement. “With this weaponization of the nominations process the minority has shredded the comity of the Senate and has set us on a dangerous path going forward. I will not be a party to this destruction and will vote to confirm Judge Kavanaugh’s nomination to the Supreme Court.”

Meanwhile, Kansas’ other senator, Jerry Moran, issued a statement Thursday night following the hearings, saying he, too, would vote to confirm Kavanaugh.

“As I stated after meeting with Judge Kavanaugh in August, he is a well-qualified nominee with a deep respect for the Constitution, and I still believe that to be true. His intellect and extensive experience in the legal field will serve the Supreme Court well,” Moran said. “I will vote to confirm Judge Kavanaugh as Justice Kavanaugh.”


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