MADISON, Wis. — Republican U.S. Sen. Ron Johnson reaffirmed his support for Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh on Thursday, saying that after reviewing a new FBI background report, he saw “no evidence” to back up sexual assault claims.
“I gotta go with the facts,” the Wisconsin senator said during a telephone town hall meeting with Wisconsin residents.
Johnson said he found no evidence in the FBI report to back up claims by Christine Blasey Ford that Kavanaugh sexually assaulted her when they were both in high school in 1982.
“The bedrock principle of our judicial system in America is presumption of innocence,” Johnson said. “I have to presume innocence on the allegations that are uncorroborated. … There’s no evidence.”
The Senate planned to move forward with Kavanaugh’s confirmation with a crucial test vote on Friday. A final vote on confirmation could come Saturday.
Johnson has supported Kavanaugh since President Donald Trump nominated him, while Democratic Sen. Tammy Baldwin, of Wisconsin, has opposed him. Baldwin did not immediately comment Thursday after the new FBI background report was made available to senators.
Johnson said he spent three hours reading the report, which he said included interviews with 10 people. Johnson said “by all accounts” Kavanaugh has “been a wonderful person, he’s treated women with respect, he’s mentored them.”
Three women have accused Kavanaugh of sexual misconduct in separate incidents in the 1980s. Kavanaugh, 53, now a judge on the powerful District of Columbia Circuit Court of Appeals, has denied the claims.
While the FBI interviews were to focus on sexual assault allegations, Democrats have also questioned Kavanaugh’s drinking habits during high school and college, and the dishonest comments they say he has made about his background. Kavanaugh has said stories of his bad behavior while drinking are exaggerated.
Johnson said with regards to allegations Kavanaugh drank too much: “There’s just not a hint of that being a problem.”
During Johnson’s telephone call with local residents, one caller questioned Johnson on why Republicans, in 2016, refused to grant a hearing to President Barack Obama’s nominee for the Supreme Court Merrick Garland.
“I don’t know of any Republican that went out to destroy his reputation,” Johnson said of Garland. “Nobody tried to destroy Merrick Garland, which has happened with Judge Kavanagh.”
Johnson also defended Kavanaugh’s testimony before the Senate Judiciary Committee last week.
“He’s shown passion, absolutely,” Johnson said. “Who wouldn’t if you were falsely accused of such heinous acts? … Some of the most vile actions imaginable he’s being accused of. He’s got a wife, he’s got two daughters. He says he’s innocent. And by the way, we have no corroboration that he’s not innocent.”
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