President Trump is under fire on Wednesday after mocking Christine Blasey Ford’s inability to remember key details surrounding the night 36 years ago when she was allegedly sexually assaulted by Judge Brett M. Kavanaugh, now his Supreme Court nominee.
At his rally in Mississippi Tuesday night, Mr. Trump pointed out the various issues he found in her testimony, like the fact that should couldn’t remember the specific date, location or how she got there. The crowd laughed and cheered in response.
“But I had one beer! That’s the only thing I remember,” Mr. Trump said.
Democrats have denounced the president’s comments as divisive and disrespectful the morning after Mr. Trump’s rally.
“This vile, mocking attack on a credible, immensely powerfully eloquent survivor of sexual assault is a mark of disrespect and disregard not only for Dr. Blasey Ford, but for the entire survivor community,” Sen. Richard Blumenthal, a Connecticut Democrat who sits on the Senate Judiciary Committee, said on CNN’s “New Day.”
California Sen. Dianne Feinstein, who Ms. Blasey Ford reached out to confidentially with her allegations in July, slammed the president’s performance as “cruel.”
“The president’s attacks on Dr. Blasey Ford last night were appalling. He sent a clear message to victims of sexual assault that they should not be believed,” she wrote in a statement.
Two key Republicans also joined the growing criticism.
Sen. Jeff Flake of Arizona said there “no time and no place” for the president’s comments.
“To discuss something this sensitive at a political rally is just not right,” he said on NBC’s “Today” show. “I wish he hadn’t done it. It’s kind of appalling.”
Mr. Flake, a Republican, is a key swing vote that could determine if Judge Kavanaugh gets confirmed as a Supreme Court justice or not. Though he voted the nominee out of committee, Mr. Flake has not revealed what he will decide when it comes to the full Senate vote set for this week.
Sen. Susan Collins of Maine is another potential swing vote, though not on the Judiciary Committee, who was displeased with Mr. Trump’s remarks.
“The president’s comments were just plain wrong,” she told reporters.
Kavanaugh opponents are already advertising based on the president’s rally comments.
Brian Fallon, a former spokeswoman for Hillary Clinton’s campaign, shared a new ad specifically directed to Ms. Collins.
Even Sen. Lindsey Graham of South Carolina, an ardent defender of the president, distanced himself from the comments.
“I don’t like what the president said last night. I’m the first person to say, ‘I want to hear from Dr. Ford.’” Mr. Graham, a Republican, said at The Atlantic Festival. “I thought she was handled respectfully. I thought Kavanaugh was treated like crap.”
The president’s controversial comments were a drastically different tune from the description of Ms. Blasey Ford’s allegations he gave to reporters on Friday.
Mr. Trump said he watched her testimony to the Senate Judiciary Committee and felt she was ” a very fine woman, a very credible witness.”
The memory issues Mr. Trump mocked on Tuesday were highlighted in a memo that prosecutor Rachel Mitchell sent to the Senate Judiciary Committee on Monday.
Ms. Feinstein criticized that memo and all Republicans in her rebuke of Trump, saying they are engaging in a smear campaign to discredit Kavanaugh accusers.
“The terrible treatment of Dr. Ford and Ms. Ramirez tells every woman in this country to keep sexual assault to themselves. We must send a different message, a message of support,” she said, referring to the second accuser, Deborah Ramirez, who was a classmate of Kavanaugh at Yale.
Counselor to the President Kellyanne Conway defended her boss’ comments, insisting that Mr. Trump was merely pointing out factual inconsistencies.
“The woman has been accommodated by all of us,” Mrs. Conway said, “She’s been treated like a Faberge egg by all of us, beginning with me and the president.”
Sen. Lisa Murkowski, the third Republican swing vote, told reporters she is taking Mr. Trump’s remarks into consideration while mulling over her decision on Judge Kavanaugh.
“I am taking everything into account,” she said. “The president’s comments yesterday mocking Dr. Ford were wholly inappropriate and in my view unacceptable.”