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Donald Trump flashes thumbs up on Air Force One after Brett Kavanaugh’s confirmation

US President Donald Trump flashed reporters aboard Air Force One two thumbs up as the Senate confirmed Brett Kavanaugh to push the top US court to the right, and later assailed demonstrators who banged on the doors of the Supreme Court in protest as “an angry mob”.

world Updated: Oct 07, 2018 09:05 IST
Alyza Sebenius and Laura Curtis
Alyza Sebenius and Laura Curtis
Bloomberg, Washington
Donald Trump,Air Force One,Brett Kavanaugh
Donald Trump said he is “100 per cent” certain that Christine Blasey Ford, who accused  Brett Kavanaugh of sexual assault, named the wrong person. (Reuters)

United States President Donald Trump flashed reporters aboard Air Force One two thumbs up as the Senate confirmed Brett Kavanaugh to push the top US court to the right, and later assailed demonstrators who banged on the doors of the Supreme Court in protest as “an angry mob”.

Trump told reporters on his plane he was “100 per cent” certain that Christine Blasey Ford, who accused the Supreme Court nominee of sexual assault, named the wrong person. Later, he said that pivoting to attack to the California professor in a speech marked a turning point for Kavanaugh’s nomination.

Trump celebrated the victory at a rally in Kansas Saturday night, drawing cheers as he announced he had signed the justice’s official commission just before his plane landed in the state.

Trump boasted that he could yet move a court now considered the most conservative since the New Deal further to the right. “Could be three, could be four, could be a lot” of vacancies coming up, he said.

In his latest get-out-the-vote effort before the November 6 mid-term elections, Trump cast Democrats as not to be trusted. “You don’t hand matches to an arsonist, and you don’t give power to an angry left-wing mob,” he said. “The Democrats have become too extreme and too dangerous to govern.”

Private viewing

He dismissed the protesters who crowded the US Capitol’s hallways for days, shouted from the Senate gallery during Kavanaugh’s confirmation vote, and demonstrated on the steps of the Supreme Court on Saturday as a small group “that couldn’t fit into the front row” of the Kansas rally.

Reporters aboard Air Force One earlier were invited into Trump’s private, wood-paneled cabin on the presidential jet, where Trump monitored the Senate vote on a big-screen television tuned to Fox News.

The president flashed two “thumbs up” when the vote was called 50 to 48 in favor of Trump’s second Supreme Court pick. “I appreciate those 50 great votes,” he said. Three senior aides in the cabin applauded.

‘Totally brilliant’

Trump said Kavanaugh is “going to go down as a totally brilliant Supreme Court justice for many years,” and praised the nominee’s temperament and past judicial service. He is, said Trump, “a brilliant scholar”.

“We’re honoured that he was able to withstand these horrible, horrible attacks by the Democrats,” Trump added. “A horrible attack that nobody should have to go through.” Upon landing, the president said he spoke to Kavanaugh during the flight.

The Senate narrowly confirmed the 53-year-old after a historically bitter and partisan battle. Kavanaugh overcame allegations of school-age sexual assault and claims by Democrats he was dishonest in Senate hearings.

In response to a reporter’s question, Trump said it was a “total misnomer” that women were angry about Kavanaugh’s confirmation. “Women, I feel, were in many ways stronger in his favor,” Trump said. He then made similar comments to those he’s tweeted in the past two days: that women demonstrating against Kavanaugh had been paid to do so, potentially by billionaire philanthropist George Soros.

Turning point

In a Fox News interview after the Kansas rally, Trump said that comments about Blasey Ford during a speech in Southhaven, Mississippi, on Oct. 2 had been a turning point in the push to confirm Kavanaugh. Trump, who days before had called Ford’s testimony “very credible,” ridiculed her -- drawing cheers from the audience.

“I thought I had to even the playing field,” he said on Fox. “I evened the playing field.” The president earlier said in response to a reporter’s question that he had no doubt Ford, a California professor, had named the wrong person as her assailant in an attack she said took place while she and Kavanaugh were in high school.

“There’s nobody with a squeaky clean past like Brett Kavanaugh,” Trump said. “I’m very honored to have chosen him.”

Rightward tilt

Trump, who campaigned on the promise of appointing conservative judges, can celebrate helping to create the most decisive conservative majority on the top court in decades as Kavanaugh joins the president’s first pick, Associate Justice Neil Gorsuch.

Trump rallied in Kansas in support of two Republican candidates: Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach, an ally who’s running for governor, and Steve Watkins, the nominee for the state’s 2nd Congressional District.

Kansas hasn’t elected a Democrat to Congress in more than a decade. In what some surveys have forecast will be a Democratic wave election in November, the nonpartisan Cook Political Report rates one of the state’s four House seats a tossup and another as leaning Democratic.

From Kansas, Trump travels over the next week to rallies in Iowa, Pennsylvania, Ohio and Kentucky in his bid to save the Republican majorities in Congress.

The president said the fight over Kavanaugh had energised Republicans in the past two to three weeks. Democrats, he said on Fox, “overplayed their hand”.

First Published: Oct 07, 2018 09:05 IST