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Lindsey Graham Calls the Kavanaugh Hearing ‘Most Unethical Sham Since I’ve Been in Politics’

4 minute read

Republican Senator Lindsey Graham lambasted Democrats during his questioning of Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh on Thursday afternoon, criticizing their handling of the sexual assault allegations against the nominee.

“This is the most unethical sham since I’ve been in politics,” Graham said of the hearing.

Graham attacked Democrats for the time they took to bring Christine Blasey Ford’s allegations to the Senate’s attention, and criticized Democratic senators’ calls for an FBI investigation into the allegations of sexual assault against Kavanaugh. Democrats, led by the committee’s ranking member Sen. Dianne Feinstein, explained they were following Ford’s request to keep her name confidential.

Ford initially shared her story with her Congresswoman, Democratic Rep. Anna Eshoo, in early July and then Eshoo’s office sent a letter to Feinstein. While Feinstein knew about Ford’s allegations, she says she honored Ford’s request until information leaked out (and soon after, Ford went public). Still, Graham was not happy with the outcome.

“If you wanted a FBI investigation, you could have come to us. What you wanted to do is destroy this guy’s life, hold his seat open and hope you win in 2020,” Graham said. “You’ve said that. Not me.“

Graham, who earlier on Thursday warned Democrats that they should “watch our for” their own future nominees, addressed Kavanaugh directly, indicating that he believed the judge’s testimony.

“You’ve got nothing to apologize for. When you see Sotomayor and Kagan, say hello, because I voted for them. I’d never do to them what you’ve done to this guy,” Graham said. “This is the most unethical sham since I’ve been in politics and if you really wanted to know the truth, you sure as hell wouldn’t have done what you’ve done to this guy.”

After asking Kavanaugh whether he was a “gang rapist” — a reference to an allegation made by a woman named Julie Swetnick — Graham sympathized with the nominee’s family.

“I cannot imagine what you and your family have gone through,” Graham said, then returning to criticize Democratic Senators.

“Boy, you all want power. God, I hope you never get it. I hope the American people can see through this sham. That you know about it and you held it,” Graham said. “You had no intention of protecting Dr. Ford. None. She’s as much of a victim as you are. God, I hate to say it because these have been my friends. But let me tell you, when it comes to this: you’re looking for a fair process, you came to the wrong town at the wrong time my friend.”

Graham also lamented the impact Kavanaugh’s confirmation battle would have on the future. “This is going to destroy the ability of good people to come forward because of this crap,” he said, emphasizing that Kavanaugh had pointed out no other allegations had surfaced against him before this confirmation process.

Toward the end of his time, Graham seemed to mock the allegations against Kavanaugh. He compared the nominee to Bill Cosby, the comedian whom more than 50 women have accused of sexual assault and who was recently sentenced to three to 10 years in prison for one of those cases.

“You’re supposed to be Bill Cosby when you’re a junior and senior in high school. And all of a sudden you got over it,” Graham said. “It’s been my understanding that if you drug women and rape them for two years in high school, you probably don’t stop.”

Graham finished his comments by telling his own party that they should vote for Kavanaugh and promising to do so himself.

“To my Republican colleagues, if you vote no, you’re legitimizing the most despicable thing I have seen in my time in politics,” he said. “I hope you’re on the Supreme Court. That’s exactly where you should be. And I hope that the American people will see through this charade. And I wish you well. I intend to vote for you, and I hope everybody who’s fair minded will.”

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Write to Abigail Abrams at abigail.abrams@time.com