WASHINGTON — Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said he never considered urging the White House to withdraw Brett Kavanaugh’s nomination to the Supreme Court and called opposition to the judge a “great political gift” for Republicans ahead of next month’s midterm elections.

In an interview with The Washington Post hours before Kavanaugh’s confirmation Saturday, the Kentucky Republican again underscored his confidence in Kavanaugh’s denials of allegations of sexual misconduct decades ago while decrying the protesters who have challenged senators for days.

“I never thought Judge Kavanaugh would withdraw,” McConnell said. “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 Republican majority, said Republicans are already seeing a boost in polling in Senate races from the Democratic opposition to Kavanaugh combined with the protests. Republicans are on offense in the fight for control of the Senate, with 10 Democrats seeking re-election in states President Trump won in 2016.

“It’s been a great political gift for us. The tactics have energized our base,” he said. “I want to thank the mob, because they’ve done the one thing we were having trouble doing, which was energizing our base.”

McConnell said he became confident he had the votes only when the roll call occurred Friday morning, when the Senate narrowly moved to advance Kavanaugh’s nomination.

He announced last week that the Senate would vote Friday following a brief FBI investigation – a probe demanded by a trio of influential Republican senators who had yet to announce 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.”

McConnell – who swiftly declared “I believe the women” when Republican Senate candidate Roy Moore faced allegations of sexual misconduct – declined to answer directly when asked whether he believed any part of the testimony from Christine Blasey Ford, who accused Kavanaugh of sexually assaulting her when they were teenagers more than three decades ago.


Only subscribers are eligible to post comments. Please subscribe or to participate in the conversation. Here’s why.

Use the form below to reset your password. When you've submitted your account email, we will send an email with a reset code.