Donald Trump defends US Supreme Court nominee accused of sexual assault

Trump says he wants to hear from Kavanaugh accuser

Kavanaugh's accuser, a university professor, has said she was assaulted at a party 36 years ago, when both were high school students.

"It is the Senate's constitutional responsibility to assess the nominees, and then if we need additional help from the Federal Bureau of Investigation, the committee could ask for it", Collins said in an interview on ME radio station WVOM. There is a hearing scheduled for Monday although Ford has asked the FBI to investigate Kavanaugh before she testifies.

He has also cast fresh doubt on whether the alleged attack even happened.

"The Committee should have the completed report before any hearing occurs and we ask that you take immediate steps to make sure that we have the FBI's report before we proceed", the senators wrote.

"But I can only say this: he's such an outstanding man - very hard for me to imagine that anything happened", Trump said.

"In fact, I have no memory of this alleged incident", Judge said in his statement to the committee.

Collins says that Ford's refusal is even more problematic after seeing the efforts that Chuck Grassley has put into attempting to accommodate her. Grassley has offered a public hearing, which Collins prefers, a closed session and staff interviews. Her family has relocated, they said.

Patrick J. Smyth - who graduated with Kavanaugh from Georgetown Prep in North Bethesda, Md, in 1983 - also denied seeing any "improper conduct" from the nominee, CNN reported, citing a letter written by Smyth's lawyer and sent to the Senate Judiciary Committee.

The battle for confirmation comes just weeks before congressional elections on 6 November.

The situation has set off partisan bickering, with Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) and other Democrats calling for the FBI to reopen its background investigation of Kavanaugh. Republicans have said the Federal Bureau of Investigation would be doing nothing more than what committee staffers could achieve by interviewing Kavanaugh and Ford.

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"If she shows up, that would be wonderful", he said of Monday's planned hearing. "If she doesn't show up, that would be unfortunate", Trump added.

Ford, has seen her life "turned upside down" and has effectively gone into hiding after going public with allegations that Kavanaugh assaulted her in the 1980s when they were both teenagers, according to her attorneys Debra Katz and Lisa Banks.

That underscores a desire to avoid antagonising female voters at a time when the #MeToo movement has made sexual abuse a major political dynamic.

For the first time, the president weighed in with his view of Ford's allegations that a drunken Kavanaugh, during a 1982 high school party, pinned her to a bed and groped her while suppressing her screams for help.

Democrats decried Republicans' plans to push ahead with the hearing without seeking a full FBI investigation. "It demands a thorough and independent investigation before the Senate can reasonably vote on Brett Kavanaugh's nomination to a lifetime seat on the nation's highest court".

"No one believes you", read one message Ford received, a source close to her told the newspaper. He does not want to risk allowing the Senate vote to lapse until after an election Republicans may lose. "Monday is her opportunity", Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said Tuesday.

Judge Kavanaugh has called the allegation "completely false".

"There is no way to redo 1991, but there are ways to do better", she said, suggesting rules the committee should follow so the shortcomings of Hill's own questioning-which was explicit and personal in nature-don't repeat themselves. Chuck Grassley (R-IA).

On Tuesday, President Donald Trump showered sympathy on Kavanaugh.

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