President Donald Trump waves to supporters after speaking at a campaign rally at Kansas Expocentre, Saturday, Oct. 6, 2018 in Topeka, Kan. (AP Photo/Pablo Martinez Monsivais)

Trump celebrates Kavanaugh victory

"I stand before you today on the heels of a tremendous victory for our nation"

October 06, 2018 - 9:34 pm

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — President Donald Trump celebrated the confirmation of Brett Kavanaugh to the Supreme Court at a rally in Kansas on Saturday, condemning Democrats for what he called a "shameless campaign of political and personal destruction" against Kavanaugh.

To cheers of supporters at the Kansas Expocentre in Topeka, Trump declared it an "historic night," not long after signing the paperwork to make Kavanaugh's status official.

"I stand before you today on the heels of a tremendous victory for our nation," he said to roars.

Kavanaugh was sworn in as a justice Saturday evening in Washington after an extraordinarily fraught nomination that sparked angry protests, nail-biting votes and a national reckoning about sexual assault allegations and who should be believed after Kavanaugh was accused of sexual misconduct when he was a high school and college student.

He denied the allegations, but nearly all Senate Democrats voted against his confirmation.

Trump invited reporters traveling with him to watch the final vote in his private office aboard Air Force One, then delivered a thumbs up from his desk as the confirmation was made official.

"Very, very good," Trump said. "Very happy about it. Great decision. I very much appreciate those 50 great votes and I think he's going to go down as a totally brilliant Supreme Court Justice for many years."

Trump, throughout the day, insisted Kavanagh would not be tainted by the sexual assault allegations from Christine Blasey Ford and others that nearly tanked his nomination, declaring he was "100 percent" certain his nominee was innocent.

"I have no doubt," Trump said, telling reporters that he had chosen Kavanaugh, in part, because "there's nobody with a squeaky-clean past like Brett Kavanaugh because he is an outstanding person and I'm very honored to have chosen him."

He said Kavanaugh had withstood a "horrible, horrible attack" that "nobody should have to go through."

Trump continued lashing out at Democrats when he rallied supporters in Topeka, telling them the opposition party conducted a "shameless campaign of political and personal destruction" against Kavanaugh.

He said "radical Democrats" have become "an angry, left-wing mob" and "too dangerous and too extreme to govern." And he urged Kansas voters to send Republicans to Congress.

Asked by reporters aboard Air Force One what message he had for women across the country who feel the nomination sends a message that their allegations of sexual assault aren't believed, Trump disagreed with the premise, saying women "were outraged at what happened to Brett Kavanaugh" and "were in many ways stronger than the men in his favor."

"We have a lot of women that are extremely happy — a tremendous number — because they're thinking of their sons, they're thinking of their husbands and their brothers and their uncles and others and women are, I think, extremely happy," he said.

Trump has repeatedly sided with men accused of sexual misconduct and has warned of the dangers false accusations pose to men — even though research has shown false accusations to be extremely rare.

Trump also pointed to television footage of protesters outside the Capitol, and said their numbers paled in comparison to the thousands of supporters awaiting him in Kansas.

Of the protesters, he said: "that crowd could fit in the second row."

Trump also revealed that he believes a rally speech in which he mocked Christine Blasey Ford's Senate testimony had been a turning point for the nomination.

"I think that the Mississippi speech had great impact," he said, calling it "a very important thing."

Advisers and Senate leaders had urged Trump not to attack Ford publicly, worried such a move would anger on-the-fence senators. But Trump went after her anyway, mocking her testimony and gaps in her memory as a rally crowd laughed and cheered.

White House officials now say they view the speech as a turning point that changed the momentum as it appeared Kavanaugh's nomination was at risk.

Trump was in Kansas to campaign for Kris Kobach, secretary of state and the Republican nominee for governor, and Steve Watkins, the GOP nominee in the 2nd Congressional District of eastern Kansas. Retiring Republican Rep. Lynn Jenkins holds the seat, and Democrats hope to flip it. Both joined him on stage at the Expocentre to speak.

Trump has been holding rallies across the country as he tries to boost Republican turnout in November's midterm elections that will determine which party will control the House and Senate during the second half of Trump's term.

He said Saturday he thinks Republicans "are going to do incredibly well" in the midterm elections after Kavanaugh's confirmation.

"I think we have a momentum that hasn't been seen in years," he said.

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Follow Colvin on Twitter at https://twitter.com/colvinj

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