Rep. Kevin Cramer (R-ND), the GOP Senate nominee, said Friday that giving credence to allegations that Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh sexually assaulted a young woman when they were teenagers is “absurd.”
Cramer sounded off on professor Christine Blasey Ford’s claim that Brett Kavanaugh drunkenly sexually assaulted her when she was 15 and he was 17 during a radio interview, describing them as “even more absurd” than Anita Hill’s accusations that Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas had sexually harassed her because of Kavanaugh’s age at the time and because it was “an attempt or something that never went anywhere.”
“This case is even more absurd because these people were teenagers when this supposed, alleged incident took place. Teenagers. Not a boss, supervisor-subordinate situation as the Clarence Thomas-Anita Hill situation was claimed to be,” he said during an appearance on KNOX. “These are teenagers who evidently were drunk according to her own, her own statements. They were drunk when it evidently happened… even by her own accusation. Again, it was supposedly an attempt or something that never went anywhere. So you just have to wonder.”
Cramer’s comments could hurt him as he seeks to defeat Sen. Heidi Heitkamp (D-ND) this fall. Strategists in both parties believe Cramer currently leads in the race, making him the Republican candidate most likely to become a senator next term in Congress, but Democrats believe Heitkamp is still within striking distance. Heitkamp has yet to say how she’ll vote on Kavanaugh’s nomination to the Supreme Court.
Cramer’s comments also make him the latest high-profile Republican to shrug off Blasey Ford’s claims of sexual assault due to Kavanaugh’s age when the alleged assault took place, and minimize the severity of what he is accused of doing — what Blasey Ford’s attorney said she believes was “attempted rape.”
President Trump himself took to Twitter on Friday morning to question why she hadn’t reported the incident to the police at the time that it happened. Other Republicans have gone even further, including Rep. Dana Rohrabacher (R-CA), who rolled his eyes at the accusation because the alleged incident occurred when they were in high school, and Rep. Ralph Norman (R-SC), who joked that Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg had accused President Abraham Lincoln of groping her.
Setting everything else he said aside, Cramer’s description of Blasey Ford’s accusations are factually incorrect. She told the Washington Post last Sunday that Kavanaugh and his friend who was in the room with them were “stumbling drunk” but that she and the others at the party had one beer apiece.
Cramer’s campaign didn’t respond to a request for comment on his remarks.
Heitkamp took a dim view of her opponent’s comments.
“Congressman Cramer’s comments are disturbing and they don’t reflect the values of North Dakota,” she said in a statement to TPM Friday evening.
Here’s the audio of what Cramer said — the quoted remarks start at around 4 minutes and 30 seconds in, though it’s worth listening to his full comments.
Here is his full quote, after being asked about former Vice President Joe Biden’s recent apology for how he handled the Anita Hill hearings in 1991:
“I suspect what he means is that we should never have let Clarence Thomas on the Supreme Court like we did. Thank God they did because what an incredible man of justice and character and and you know, a testimony to the, to the American dream. This wonderful minority black man with a brilliant mind and an incredible background. What an incredible testimony he’s been to the resilience of the American spirit. So if that’s what he means yeah, great point. They shouldn’t have done what they did. But I would even say this, this is where this one’s different. If to the degree there was a legitimacy to Anita Hill’s claims, and she tried and didn’t prevail, Clarence Thomas did and America did. This case is even more absurd because these people were teenagers when this supposed, alleged incident took place. Teenagers. Not a boss, supervisor-subordinate situation as the Clarence Thomas-Anita Hill situation was claimed to be. These are teenagers who evidently were drunk according to her own, her own statements. They were drunk when it evidently happened… even by her own accusation. Again, it was supposedly an attempt or something that never went anywhere. So you just have to wonder. Here’s what I worry about and maybe this could be my final word on unless you have another question, but what I worry about is why would any good person ever put themselves forward to be a judge an Appellate Court Judge, Supreme Court justice, frankly a member of Congress or the United States Senate, the governor, anything else, if this is the new standard, you know, roll out an accusation that, that no one else can corroborate and we believe the accuser without appropriate due process, it’s going to get it very difficult to get good people to do these jobs. It’s going to be the standard if you have to have a perfect record in junior high and high school.”
This story was updated at 9:10 p.m. to include Heitkamp’s response.