President Donald Trump said Wednesday that allegations of sexual misconduct against him “impact my opinion” on what he described as false charges against Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh.
In extended comments during a press conference that lasted about 80 minutes on the sidelines of a United Nations meeting in New York, Trump portrayed himself as a victim of multiple made-up allegations.
“They made false statements about me, knowing they were false,” Trump said of his accusers, adding that the The New York Times with misreported allegations against him during the run-up to the 2016 election. “People know that a lot of the news are fake, and a lot of the people sitting here are fake.”
His remarks in defense of Kavanaugh came as his pick to succeed Justice Anthony Kennedy on the high court was struggling to claim the Senate votes needed for confirmation.
Trump also told reporters he could be persuaded to change his mind on Kavanaugh when the judge and his first accuser, Christine Blasey Ford, testify before the Senate Judiciary Committee on Thursday.
But, the president said, the allegations against Kavanaugh from several women “are all false,” and he would only withdraw the nomination “if I thought he was guilty of something.”
Trump accused Democrats of ginning them up at the last minute for political gain.
“They know it’s a big, fat con job,” Trump said of Democrats. “They go into a room and I guarantee they laugh like hell.”
Acknowledging what many on both sides of the Kavanaugh nomination and the broader national political debate have said, Trump said Thursday’s hearing will be a major cultural moment for the nation. He fell squarely in the camp of the accused.
“In this case, you’re guilty until proven innocent,” he said. “I think that is a very, very dangerous standard for our country. With that being said, I look forward to what she has to say. I also look very forward to what Judge Kavanaugh has to say. I think it’s going to be a very, very important day in the history of our country.”
On Thursday, a third woman, Julie Swetnick, came forward to accuse Kavanaugh of misconduct, which the nominee denied. Trump called her lawyer, Michael Avenatti, who is entertaining a 2020 presidential run as a Democrat, a “low life.”
NBC News reported Wednesday evening that Kavanaugh, in an interview with Judiciary Committee staff, denied a new set of allegations by an unnamed fourth woman who said in a letter sent to Sen. Cory Gardner, R-Colo., that an inebriated Kavanaugh had shoved her daughter’s friend up against a wall “very aggressively and sexually” after they all left a bar in the Washington, D.C. area together in 1998.
While Trump said he will watch the Kavanaugh hearing Thursday, his focus — and that of the political world — could be divided by his scheduled meeting with Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein. However, Trump said he might postpone the face-to-face meetingdue to Kavanaugh developments.
Trump also spoke about the midterm elections and even the Democratic hopefuls engaging in early jockeying for their party’s nomination in 2020.
After accusing China earlier in the day of attempting to interfere in midterms by targeting retaliatory tariffs at his political base and purchasing advertising in American media, he said he could demonstrate tampering by Beijing.
“We have evidence,” Trump said. “It will come out. I can’t tell you now, but it didn’t come out of nowhere, that I can tell you.”
China, he said “would like to see me lose an election because they’ve never been challenged like this” on trade.
But while he regarded the threat of China hurting Republicans’ chances this November as a serious prospect, he said he’s not worried at all about the Democrats who want to take him on in two years.
“They’re not going to beat me,” he said, calling the still-forming field of candidates “total lightweights.”
Trump also ridiculed those who noted he elicited chuckles when he bragged about the domestic economy during an address to the United Nations General Assembly Tuesday.
“They weren’t laughing at me,” he insisted. “They were laughing with me.”
Though much of his lengthy exchange with reporters was dominated by discussion of Kavanaugh and domestic American politics, Trump responded to a wide range of questions on the topic that had brought him to New York: foreign policy.
He said he wouldn’t put a timeline on nuclear nonproliferation negotiations with North Korean leader Kim Jong-un, that he is optimistic about Israelis and Palestinians striking a peace deal — which he said is easier than making health care policy — and predicted that Iran will “come back” to the negotiating table and make “a good deal” after he tore up President Barack Obama’s nuclear pact with Tehran.
Trump also took a few swipes at Canada, criticizing that nation’s negotiators as he tries to rewrite the North America Free Trade Agreement. He said that had rejected a request to meet one-on-one with Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau in New York this week. Trudeau spokeswoman Eleanore Catenaro later told CNBC that her boss hadn’t asked to talk to Trump.