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WASHINGTON – President Donald Trump appeared to put significant distance between himself and Judge Brett Kavanaugh on Tuesday, telling an audience in Mississippi that he had only recently met his embattled Supreme Court nominee.
“I don’t even know him,” Trump said of Kavanaugh, whose confirmation is on hold pending an FBI background investigation requested by Senate Republicans. “I met him for the first time a few weeks ago…So it’s not like, oh, gee, I want to protect my friend.”
The surprising remark to the Southaven, Miss., crowd came during an extended riff Trump delivered in defense of Kavanaugh against California professor Christine Blasey Ford, who has accused him of a sexual assault 36 years ago.
Following a rhetorical pattern Trump has embraced recently, he offered a passionate defense of Kavanaugh while also sowing doubt.
At a press conference in New York last week, Trump said he stood by Kavanaugh but noted he also found Ford’s testimony “credible.” In a subsequent press conference at the White House on Monday he said he wants to see the outcome of the pending FBI report.
The Senate is moving toward a vote on the Kavanaugh later this week.