(CNN) — President Donald Trump deviated from his previously measured comments about the woman who has accused his Supreme Court pick Brett Kavanaugh of sexual assault when he questioned Thursday why the woman didn’t call the police 36 years ago, when she says the incident happened.
“Why didn’t somebody call the FBI 36 years ago? I mean you could also say when did this all happen, what’s going on? To take a man like this and besmirch — now with that being said, let her have her say and let’s see how it all works out,” Trump said during an interview on Fox News just before his rally in Las Vegas.
“I think it’s a very sad situation. He’s an outstanding person,” Trump added.
Professor Christine Blasey Ford has accused Kavanaugh of sexually assaulting her at a party outside Washington when they were in high school. He denies it happened.
Trump had previously stayed above the political fight and heated rhetoric that have surfaced after Ford came forward in a Sunday story in The Washington Post. CNN reported earlier Thursday that Trump has bragged about the positive coverage he’s received for his handling of Kavanaugh’s accuser, according to multiple sources. That response has contributed to him continuing to say Ford should come forward with her story.
Those who work closely with the President say he has privately voiced suspicion about the #MeToo movement and complained that decades-old allegations could ruin men’s lives in an instant. The President himself stands accused of various levels of sexual misconduct by 15 women, all of which he has denied.
Ford told The Washington Post she told no one at the time what had happened to her, and was terrified of punishment from her parents if they realized she had been at a party where underage drinking was happening.
She told the Post she remembered thinking, “I’m not ever telling anyone this. This is nothing, it didn’t happen, and he didn’t rape me.”
After going through psychotherapy, Ford said, she now understands the incident as a trauma that has had lasting impact on her life.
Later on during the rally, Trump declined to say anything about Ford — saying, “I’m not saying anything about anybody else” — but heaped praise on Kavanaugh.
“I wanna tell you that Brett Kavanaugh is one of the finest human beings you will ever have the privilege of knowing or meeting,” Trump said.
He later added, “We’ll let it play out and I think everything’s going to be just fine.”
Ford is facing a decision whether to appear on Monday before the Senate Judiciary Committee to testify about her allegations against Kavanaugh. Chairman Chuck Grassley, an Iowa Republican, has set a 10 a.m. Friday deadline for her decision. Kavanaugh has said in a letter to the committee that he will appear at the hearing.
Ford’s attorneys spoke Thursday with representatives from Republicans and Democrats on the committee in an opening round of negotiations about her appearance.
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