Sen. Jon Tester, D-Mont., said Friday that he will vote against confirming Judge Brett Kavanaugh to the U.S. Supreme Court, while Republican Sen. Steve Daines will vote yes.
"I have concerns that Judge Kavanaugh defended the PATRIOT Act instead of Montana's privacy. I have concerns about his support for more dark money in politics. I have concerns about who he believes is in charge of making personal health decisions. And I have deep concerns about the allegations of sexual assault against Judge Kavanaugh," Tester said in a statement released Friday morning. "Unfortunately, Judge Kavanaugh couldn't find time to discuss these concerns with me in person, so the only information I have is from what he said in his hearings. I'll be voting against him."
Tester's staff told The Gazette on Friday that he was flying back to Washington, D.C., and could not be interviewed.
Thursday the Senate Judiciary Committee took testimony from Christine Blasey Ford, who has accused Kavanaugh of sexually assaulting her when they were teenagers. In an emotional response, Kavanaugh testified that Democrats had orchestrated the sexual assault accusations by Ford and two other women. He said the claims were false.
The Judiciary Committee voted along party lines Friday afternoon to recommend Kavanaugh's confirmation by the full Senate.
Sen. Steve Daines, R-Mont., said in a statement there is no evidence to support Ford's accusations and that Kavanaugh is the subject of a last-minute smear campaign. Daines announced his support of Kavanaugh on July 9, the day President Donald Trump nominated the federal D.C. Appellate Court judge. The senator confirmed he will vote to confirm Kavanaugh.
“I watched the entire hearing from gavel to gavel. I made it very clear from the beginning that I wanted to hear from both Dr. Ford and Judge Kavanaugh because of the seriousness of these allegations. And I thank both of them for coming before the Committee to be heard," Daines said in a statement emailed Thursday night. "But as I watched it today, I concluded that there is no corroborating evidence to support this serious allegation. Rather, this seems to be an orchestrated smear campaign intended to destroy Judge Kavanaugh at the eleventh hour. The Democrats turned this process into an embarrassing, political circus that will have lasting effects for generations to come. They should be ashamed. I look forward to casting my vote for Judge Kavanaugh.”
Tester's Republican opponent, Matt Rosendale, echoed Daines' smear campaign accusation by email. He did not name Tester.
“From the very beginning, Senate Democrats made the decision to oppose Brett Kavanaugh’s nomination and do whatever it takes to keep him off the bench. Rather than seek the truth, they engaged in a smear process plain and simple," Rosendale said. "How Senate Democrats handled these allegations have been harmful not only to Judge Kavanaugh and his family but to Dr. Ford as well. This eleventh-hour political circus to destroy a good man's reputation and hurt his family is disgraceful. The Senate should immediately vote to confirm Brett Kavanaugh to the Supreme Court."
KEY PHRASE: "Not a surprise." We ALWAYS knew that @jontester would stand with Chuck Schumer and Washington Democrats over the people of Montana. 100% for Obama's SCOTUS nominees; 0% for Trump's nominees. The choice is clear in November. #MAGA #ConfirmKavanaughNow #mtsen #mtpol https://t.co/zkzYyF1R0T— Matt Rosendale (@MattForMontana) September 28, 2018
Rep. Greg Gianforte, R-Mont., called the Republican controlled Judiciary Committee's work fair and transparent. He put the blame on Senate Democrats for creating a "political show."
"When President Trump nominated Judge Kavanaugh, Chuck Schumer said he'd fight his nomination 'with everything I've got.' Senate Democrats have followed his absurd lead — from withholding important information to neglecting due process to putting on a partisan show," Gianforte said. "They should be ashamed. Republicans on the Senate Judiciary Committee worked to conduct a fair, transparent process and made the right decision to move forward with Judge Kavanaugh's confirmation."
Democratic House candidate Kathleen Williams reiterated a comment she'd made a day earlier about the hearing.
"From the halls of Congress to right here in Miles City, we all need to listen to, and support, survivors of sexual assault," Williams said.
From the halls of Congress to right here in Miles City, we all need to listen to, and support, survivors of sexual assault.— Kathleen Williams (@WilliamsForMT) September 27, 2018