As nation watches Kavanaugh hearing, Hawley decries Supreme Court process as a ‘circus’ | St. Louis Public Radio

As nation watches Kavanaugh hearing, Hawley decries Supreme Court process as a ‘circus’

Sep 27, 2018

Soon after beginning a stump speech to GOP volunteers in St. Charles County, Republican Senate hopeful Josh Hawley minced no words about what he thought about Thursday’s high-profile hearings of Brett Kavanaugh’s Supreme Court nomination.

As Kavanaugh was speaking before the Senate Judiciary Committee, Hawley asked the Republican faithful if they were “watching this circus in Washington.”

“Have you ever seen anything like this in your life?” Hawley said. “I mean, it is unbelievable. If you want to get a picture of what our future is going to be like after November if the Democrats take back control of the House and the Senate, just go turn on your television right now.”

Kavanaugh was accused of sexually assaulting Christine Blasey Ford as a teenager, a charge that the appellate judge denied. Thursday’s hearings have been broadcast wall-to-wall throughout the day, provoking a flood of reaction from all sides of the political spectrum.

Ford’s testimony in particular provoked a flood of support on social media, with many women expressing solidarity with her as she spoke to senators.

While emphasizing that he hadn’t heard all of Ford and Kavanaugh’s testimony, Hawley echoed the dismay of many GOP senators on the committee about how Kavanaugh’s nomination has unfolded. He’s made Kavanaugh’s potential confirmation to the Supreme Court a central issue of his bid to unseat U.S. Sen. Claire McCaskill.

“I don’t have any reason to doubt her sincerity,” Hawley said. “I think this process has been a disaster. It is a terrible reflection on the United States Senate, the way that this has been handled. And it is truly a circus atmosphere there. The clear and responsible parties here are the Democrats.”

Hawley has been critical of California Sen. Dianne Feinstein for not bringing Ford’s allegations to senators or law-enforcement authorities sooner. He contends if that had happened, then it may have been possible to not reveal Ford’s identity.

“And to sit on these allegations and to wait until this 11th hour with the sole purpose of making it a circus — I think is terrible,” Hawley said. “It’s a terrible disservice to the judge. It is a terrible disservice to Dr. Ford. I just think it’s awful.”

In a statement, McCaskill said, "as I have said previously, the allegations made by Dr. Ford which she courageously testified to today are concerning and should be thoroughly investigated by both the Judiciary Committee and FBI before the Senate moves forward on this nomination."

"However as I’ve said, my decision to vote against Judge Kavanaugh is based on his opinions that there should be no limits on dark, anonymous contributions by corporations and even foreign interests influencing our elections," McCaskill said.

Illinois Sen. Dick Durbin, a Democrat who sits on the Judiciary Committee, was critical that Kavanaugh didn’t advocate to have the FBI investigate Ford’s allegations, as well as the other accusations of sexual misconduct that were made over the past week and a half.

“In the course of it [Judge Kavanaugh’s opening statement], you said, ‘I welcome any kind of investigation,’” Durbin said during the Thursday hearings. “I’ve got a suggestion for you: right now, turn to your left in the front row to Don McGahn, counsel for President Donald Trump – ask him to suspend this hearing and nomination process until the FBI completes its investigation of the charges made by Dr. Ford and others, and goes to bring the witnesses forward and provides that information to this hearing.”

Asked how he would weigh the accusations against Kavanaugh if he were on the Judiciary Committee, Hawley replied: “With allegations like this, you have to ask, ‘Is there evidence for it?’”

“They are serious allegations, I’ve said that from the very beginning,” Hawley said. “That’s why I’m glad that there’s a hearing. This should have been done a month ago. What should have happened is Sen. Feinstein should have referred this letter to the FBI. They have should have done the full work. And then in all of those days of questioning that Brett Kavanaugh sat for and the 1,600 written questions that he answered, this should have been gone through.”

Follow Jason on Twitter: @jrosenbaum