Lindsey Graham knows what President Donald Trump should do if the U.S. Senate rejects his Supreme Court pick.
South Carolina’s senior senator said Tuesday that if senators reject Brett Kavanaugh’s nomination to the nation’s highest court, Trump should nominate the Appeals Court judge again and make the nomination a major issue in November’s upcoming midterm election.
“I believe Judge Kavanaugh will be confirmed to the Supreme Court very soon,” Graham said in a news release. “However, if his nomination were to fall short, I would encourage President Trump to re-nominate Judge Kavanaugh to the Supreme Court. It would — in effect — be appealing the Senate’s verdict directly to the American people.”
After the Nov. 6 vote, Graham added, “A new group of senators may view Judge Kavanaugh’s nomination very differently after hearing from the voters in their states.”
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Graham, a Seneca Republican, has emerged as an outspoken defender of Kavanaugh’s nomination to the Supreme Court. During a Senate Judiciary Committee hearing on a decades-old sexual assault allegations against Kavanaugh, Graham gave an angry denunciation of the judge’s treatment as “the most despicable thing I have seen in my time in politics.”
Calling on Trump to nominate Kavanaugh again even after the Court of Appeals judge has been rejected by the Senate would ratchet up the intense feelings around his nomination.
The allegations against Kavanaugh — which the judge emphatically has denied — have delayed a final Senate vote on his nomination as the FBI investigates the claims.
But while some in the GOP majority have hit pause on Kavanaugh’s nomination, others are eager to move forward before next month’s midterm election could flip control of the Senate to Democrats. Republicans hope Kavanaugh will become the fifth — and decisive — consistently conservative vote on the nine-member court.
On Monday, South Carolina’s other senator, Tim Scott of Charleston, said he would be voting to confirm Kavanaugh to the Supreme Court, “barring the discovery of any new information by the FBI investigation.”
Graham has been critical of the accusations against Kavanaugh and how they have been handled.
“I truly admire Judge Kavanaugh’s determination – along with that of his family – to not quit in the face of the outrageous accusations that have been leveled against him,” Graham said Tuesday. “It is incredibly important we do not legitimize these smears and attempts at character assassination for the good of the court, the future of the Senate and the character of our nation.”
Graham’s championing of Kavanaugh has won him accolades from many in the S.C. GOP, where the senior senator sometimes is viewed as too moderate.
However, S.C. Democrats have said Graham’s position is grounds to vote the senator out of office in 2020.