ERIE, Pa. - President Trump has said that while any other Republican president would have "abandoned" Brett Kavanaugh as a Supreme Court nominee, he was so incensed by treatment of the judge during Senate confirmation hearings that he "didn't even think about going the other way."
Trump, at the start of a wide-ranging interview with the Washington Examiner in Erie, Pa., said that "the easier path" for him would have been to have withdrawn Kavanaugh's nomination, but he refused even to contemplate doing so.
"I felt that it would be a horrible thing not to go through with this," he said. "The easier path would have been — you know we have some good people [on his Supreme Court shortlist], they're all amazing people. But I felt it would be so horrible and so unfair to him, I thought it would have been destructive, it would have been terrible."
Trump was speaking two days after he held a ceremonial swearing-in at the White House for Kavanaugh, which followed the new justice being confirmed in the Senate by a 50-48 vote last Saturday. At the White House ceremony, Trump said that Kavanaugh had been "proven innocent" of allegations of sexual assault made by Christine Blasey Ford, as well as accusations by Deborah Ramirez of exposing himself, and Julie Swetnick of being present at gang rapes.
"I thought he was treated very unfairly," Trump told the Washington Examiner. "This is a person that actually when I chose him, I said this would be very easy, he's led an exemplary life. I mean, he's never had a problem in his life, from being number one at Yale and number one at Yale Law School, number one in high school and everywhere, and all of a sudden this stuff came up at the end and totally, you know, uncorroborated.
"You could see he was just — he couldn't believe that this could be happening. Remember there was one time when they put something in front of him and he was reading and ... he's reading it and he's just shaking his head because by this time it had started, this whole deal had started. And he's just thinking ... and I knew what he was thinking, 'I can't believe this is happening to me.'"
When told that supporters had suggested that while other Republican presidents might have nominated Kavanaugh, none would have stuck by him despite everything, Trump agreed. "They would have abandoned," he responded. "That's what people do. I think that's what people do, I think that people do that — not only Republicans but I think that's what people do."
Still buoyed by the achievement of securing Kavanaugh's confirmation by the narrowest of margins in well over a century, Trump added: "I'm very honored. We have a great Supreme Court justice for hopefully many decades. He's going to be very good."
Trump was speaking just before a rally at the Erie Insurance Arena located in downtown Erie, an event where supporters lined French Street for hours to get a chance to see the president in a county that was pivotal in his securing Pennsylvania and placing him in the White House just under two years ago.
Outside the arena, thousands of supporters filled the block in front of the jumbotron watching the president’s speech intently, simultaneously cheering and volleying beach balls back and forth across the massive crowd.
The interview ranged from his feelings about Hillary Clinton, Fed monetary policies, trade negotiations with China, and which Democrat he would like to face in 2020. Other parts of the interview will run fully in the Washington Examiner in forthcoming days.
President Trump’s interview will be published in the Washington Examiner weekly magazine, out Tuesday. Sign up for the digital edition: /digital-edition