WASHINGTON — President Donald Trump said Wednesday that Democratic attacks on Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh over allegations of sexual misconduct were "disgraceful," and would backfire on the party in November.
"If the Democrats are playing this game that is disgraceful. It is a disgrace to the country. And I think you are going to see it in the midterms," Trump said in New York, where he was meeting with Japanese prime minister Shinzo Abe during the United Nations General Assembly. "I think people are wise, too. It is a just con game. [Kavanaugh] is a high quality person. They are bringing people out of the woods. And they could do that to anybody."
Trump, along with some other Republicans, also zeroed in Wednesday on lawyer Michael Avenatti, who represents both Stormy Daniels — who has said she was paid to remain silence about an affair with Trump before he became president — and Julie Swetnick, the latest woman to come forward accusing Kavanaugh of misconduct.
"If you look at this lawyer that just came out, he is a low life," Trump said of Avenatti. "He represented Democrats. Nobody ever talks about that. He’s a Democrat lawyer. Not a very good one, but he’s a Democrat lawyer."
Kavanaugh, said Trump, would be one of the "greatest ever" Supreme Court justices. "He's a young man, and he will be there for a long time," said Trump. "And I’ll be very proud of him ..."
On Twitter, he called Avenatti "a third rate lawyer who is good at making false accusations, like he did on me and like he is now doing on Judge Brett Kavanaugh. He is just looking for attention and doesn’t want people to look at his past record and relationships — a total low-life!"
The comments came just a day ahead of a long-awaited hearing before the Senate Judiciary Committee involving Kavanaugh and another accuser, Christine Blasey Ford, a California college professor.
On Thursday morning, White House Press Secretary Sarah Sanders blasted Democrats for not having brought the allegations forward earlier.
"I don't question the story, but I certainly question the tactics," Sanders said. "Democrats have known about this ... why didn't they bring this up during Kavanaugh's hearing?"
"It’s because they want to play political games," she added.
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Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., meanwhile, echoed Trump's attack on Avenatti.
“From my view, just when you thought it couldn’t get any worse, it just did. The lawyer to porn stars has just taken this debacle to an even lower level," Graham said in a statement, adding that he hoped people would be "highly suspicious" of the "outrageous, internally inconsistent" affidavit.
“[Kavanaugh] is a decent man who has lived an honorable life and is being smeared by the likes of Michael Avenatti," said Graham. “I very much believe in allowing people to be heard. But I am not going to be played, and I’m not going to have my intelligence insulted by the Michael Avenattis of the world. I will not be a participant in wholesale character assassination that defies credibility."
Meanwhile, Senate Democrats on Wednesday urged President Donald Trump to withdraw Kavanaugh's nomination.
In a letter, all 10 Democratic members of the Senate Judiciary Committee called on Trump to either withdraw Kavanaugh from consideration, or order an FBI investigation "into all allegations."
"The standard of character and fitness for a position on the nation's highest court must be higher than this. Judge Kavanaugh has staunchly declared his respect for women and issued blanket denials of any possible misconduct, but those declarations are in serious doubt," the lawmakers wrote.
Moments after the allegations — which NBC News has not independently verified and were firmly denied by Kavanaugh — were made public, Democratic Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., said Kavanaugh should step aside. He also implored Republicans to "immediately suspend the proceedings related to" the judge's nomination.
“I strongly believe Judge Kavanaugh should withdraw from consideration. If he will not, at the very least, the hearing and vote should be postponed while the FBI investigates all of these allegations,” Schumer said.
Sen. Jeff Merkley, D-Ore., said he was planning to file a lawsuit to halt Kavanaugh's confirmation process "due to unconstitutional presidential interference."
In a statement, Merkley’s office said it would file a suit "arguing that the Trump Administration's unprecedented withholding of substantial parts of Judge Brett Kavanaugh’s record has violated the constitutional separation of powers by preventing Senators from fulfilling their constitutional duty of advice and consent on the President’s nominee to the Supreme Court of the United States."
Merkley’s office said the senator would “ask the courts to intervene to prevent the process from continuing until Kavanaugh’s full record is available for public scrutiny.”
Sen. Richard Blumenthal, D-Conn., a member of the Senate Judiciary Committee, told reporters that he would launch an investigation into Kavanaugh, even if he were confirmed and made it onto the Supreme Court.
The intensifying responses emerged after Swetwick accused Kavanaugh of engaging in repeated lewd behavior with women at parties in the early 1980s, and of putting drugs or alcohol in punch to cause women to become inebriated so they could be "gang raped" by a group of male partygoers.
Swetnick said that she was the victim of one of these gang rapes in approximately 1982. She did not allege that Kavanaugh participated in the rape, but said he and his friend Mark Judge were present when it occurred, adding that she was incapacitated by a drug placed in her drink without her consent and was unable to fight off her attackers.
Swetnick’s sworn declaration was released by Avenatti.
"This is ridiculous and from the Twilight Zone," Kavanaugh said in a statement given to reporters by the White House. "I don't know who this is and this never happened."
Many Republican senators were publicly silent Wednesday on the allegations against Kavanaugh.
Sen. Jeff Flake of Arizona — a GOP Trump critic who is considered an essential swing vote on Kavanaugh — did not directly address the latest accusation in remarks on the Senate floor Wednesday afternoon on the upcoming Kavanaugh hearing, striking a measured tone.
"Tomorrow, we have a hearing. Many members of this body, from both parties, have already made up their minds, on the record, in advance of this hearing. They will presumably hear what they want to hear and disregard the rest. One is tempted to ask, why even bother to have a hearing?" he asked.
"I am not psychic. I am not gifted with clairvoyance," Flake said. "Given these limitations, I will have to listen to the testimony before I make up my mind about the testimony."