Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said he never considered urging the White House to withdraw Brett M. Kavanaugh’s nomination to the Supreme Court and called opposition to the judge a “great political gift” for Senate Republicans in next month’s midterm elections.
In an interview with The Washington Post ahead of Kavanaugh’s near-certain confirmation on Saturday afternoon, the Kentucky Republican again underscored his confidence in Kavanaugh’s innocence while decrying the “mob” of protesters who had descended on GOP senators. McConnell also said he didn’t know he had the votes until senators were actually on the floor and voting.
“I never thought Judge Kavanaugh would withdraw,” McConnell said during the interview with The Post. “When your integrity is attacked like his was, a withdrawal was certainly no solution to that, so we were in the fight to the finish.”
McConnell, overseeing a razor-thin 51-49 GOP majority, said he became confident he had the votes only when the roll call happened Friday morning, when the Senate narrowly moved to advance Kavanaugh’s nomination. He announced last week that the Senate would vote on Friday following a brief FBI investigation — a probe demanded by a trio of influential Republican senators who had yet to decide how they would vote on Kavanaugh’s nomination.
The White House, McConnell said, “took some grief for a decision they didn’t make” — referring to the scope of the FBI’s background investigation into allegations that Kavanaugh sexually assaulted two women in separate instances decades ago. Kavanaugh has vehemently denied all accusations of misconduct, and McConnell said the report was “reassuring.”
Politically, with a chance of increasing his majority in the midterm elections, McConnell said the GOP is already seeing improvement in polling on Senate races due to the Democratic opposition to Kavanaugh combined with the protests.
“It’s been a great political gift for us. The tactics have energized our base,” he said, adding: “I want to thank the mob, because they’ve done the one thing we were having trouble doing, which was energizing our base.”