DES MOINES — Iowa Republican U.S. Sen. Joni Ernst told a national television audience Tuesday she expects to support Brett Kavanaugh’s nomination to the U.S. Supreme Court unless an FBI investigation turns up evidence to corroborate allegations of sexual misconduct brought against him.
Kavanaugh, 53, a sitting federal appeals court judge and President Donald Trump’s pick to succeed Anthony Kennedy for a lifetime appointment as an associate justice to the U.S. Supreme Court, is the subject of an FBI probe of sexual misconduct allegations brought forward by Christine Blasey Ford and others.
Kavanaugh was narrowly approved last week by the Senate Judiciary Committee, but the panel — chaired by Sen. Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa — agreed to delay a full Senate confirmation vote temporarily after Arizona GOP Sen. Jeff Flake persuaded the Republican-led committee and President Donald Trump to agree to a limited FBI probe.
Appearing on CBS-TV’s “This Morning” show, Ernst said she had “absolutely no doubt” that Ford had “suffered from something very traumatic in her lifetime” but the Iowa senator said the evidence didn’t point to the claims she made against Kavanaugh of sexual misconduct at a party when he was 17 and she was 15.
“What we will rely on is the supplemental FBI investigation that is coming forward and I am anxious to review the information” Ernst told network interviewers. “What we want to see is: is there evidence or corroboration that the FBI is able to find through the supplemental investigation that would corroborate Dr. Ford’s accusations? If not, I will continue to support Judge Kavanaugh based on the information that I have at this time.”
Ask what message a Senate vote of support for Kavanaugh would send to the women of America, Ernst replied: “What message that sends to women in America is that we are innocent until proven guilty in this great country and I have absolutely no doubt after reviewing Dr. Ford’s testimony that she has suffered from something very traumatic in her lifetime.
“But simply the corroboration wasn’t there with even the witnesses that she brought forward and so, believe me, we want those that are accusing others to come forward if they have experienced something in their lifetime. It is important that they are heard. But again in the United States, people are innocent until proven guilty,” she said.
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Ernst acknowledged that Ford testified she was 100 percent certain of her allegation, but added that “the witnesses that she named have either denied those claims or cannot corroborate, which I do believe hurt her even more so. But again, I do believe that she has suffered from something very traumatic. I do have doubts that it was Brett Kavanaugh.”
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