Sen. Joe Manchin (D-W.V.) is still on the fence about whether or not to vote to confirm Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh amid multiple accusations of sexual assault and misconduct.
Manchin, a key swing vote, told Politico on Thursday morning that although Dr. Christine Blasey Ford’s and Deborah Ramirez’s sexual assault allegations are “terrible,” he does empathize with Kavanaugh.
“Basically, it was somebody who is the father of two young girls fighting back, saying, ‘That’s not the dad I am, that’s not the person I am,’” Manchin said of Kavanaugh’s controversial testimony last week. “That’s what I saw.”
Manchin also pointed out that the accusations against the judge stem from when he was in high school and college.
“I can understand also a person [Kavanaugh] who from 22 to 53, how he’s conducted his life, how he took care of his family, how he basically approached his job in a responsible manner,” he said. “I’m not hearing anything from the 30 years as an adult, in his professional life.”
Kavanaugh has been accused by three women of sexual assault and misconduct. Ford, a Palo Alto University professor, was the first to publicly accuse Kavanaugh in September of sexual assault when the two were in high school. She said Kavanaugh and a friend, Mark Judge, cornered her in a bedroom and the Supreme Court nominee pinned her to the bed, groped her and tried to forcibly remove her clothing. When she attempted to scream for help, Ford says Kavanaugh put his hand over her mouth to silence her.
In an interview with Al Jazeera, Manchin reiterated that when deciding his vote he will be looking more closely at Kavanaugh’s adult years.
“I am looking at the gentleman as an adult from 22 to 53, 31 years of professional service. I am looking at him as a father. As a person in a community, how he interacts with his community. I am trying to put the human side to it,” he said on Thursday.
He added that the entire confirmation hearing process has been “horrible.”
“It’s another circus,” Manchin told Al Jazeera.
In addition to Manchin, Sens. Susan Collins (R-Maine), Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska), Jeff Flake (R-Ariz.) and Heidi Heitkamp (D-N.D.) have said they are still undecided on the Kavanaugh vote. If every Senate Democrat votes no, at least two Republicans would also need to vote no in order to stop the nomination.
The FBI investigation Flake and other moderate senators called for last week concluded early Thursday morning. After reviewing the FBI investigation, the White House said it’s “fully confident” Kavanaugh will be confirmed. Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) said in a Thursday statement that the probe found “no hint of misconduct” from the judge.
Senators will review the FBI’s findings, which are being withheld from the public, on Thursday. A final vote on Kavanaugh’s nomination could be as early as Saturday.