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Kavanaugh defends teenage self as Trump attacks accusers

As Thursday’s hearing approaches, Senate Republicans are circling around Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh while he took the uncommon step of defending himself in a TV interview against two on-the-record sexual misconduct allegations. Meanwhile, President Trump accused Democrats of using “con game” tactics to defeat his nomination. Lisa Desjardins reports.

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  • Judy Woodruff:

    Senate Republicans are largely circling the wagons around Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh tonight against allegations of sexual misconduct.

    A Thursday hearing is still on tap, and President Trump is accusing Democrats of a con game, tactics to defeat the nomination.

    Lisa Desjardins begins our coverage.

  • Sarah Sanders:

    He has been strong and unequivocal in his denial.

  • Lisa Desjardins:

    From Republicans, a multipronged, all-out defense of a Supreme Court nominee today from the White House communications team.

  • Question:

    Does the president still have full confidence in Judge Kavanaugh?

  • Man:

    Yes, he does.

  • Lisa Desjardins:

    From Republicans in the Senate.

  • Sen. Mitch McConnell, R-Ky.:

    We have never been and do not wish to be a society in which a single uncorroborated allegation can float out across decades.

  • Lisa Desjardins:

    And even from nominee Brett Kavanaugh himself, taking the uncommon step of sitting down for an interview that aired on FOX News last night, all to knock down two on-the-record allegations.

    Christine Blasey Ford told The Washington Post that Kavanaugh sexually assaulted her in high school. and Deborah Ramirez told "The New Yorker" he exposed himself to her in college.

    Today, at the U.N. General Assembly, President Trump went on open attack, particularly at Ramirez, who said she was drinking when her incident happened.

  • President Donald Trump:

    And there were gaps, and she said she was totally inebriated and she was all messed up and she doesn't know it was him, but it might have been him. Oh, gee, let's not make him a Supreme Court judge because of that?

  • Lisa Desjardins:

    Kavanaugh himself didn't criticize his accusers, but instead defended his teenage self.

  • Brett Kavanaugh:

    I was focused on trying to be number one in my class and being captain of the varsity basketball team and doing my service projects, going to church.

    I think all of us have probably done things we look at back on in high school and regret or cringe a bit. But that's not what we're talking about. We're talking about an allegation of sexual assault. I have never sexually assaulted anyone.

  • Lisa Desjardins:

    But other accounts emerged with a different picture of Kavanaugh, including one from a freshman year roommate of Kavanaugh's at Yale.

    James Roche said in a statement that, "Although Brett was normally reserved, he was a notably heavy drinker," and that he became "aggressive and belligerent" when he was drunk.

    As for Ramirez's allegation in "The New Yorker," Roche says, "Debbie has a right to be heard, and I believe her."

    White House Press Secretary Sarah Sanders signaled this morning that Republicans would be open to seeing Ramirez appear before the Senate Judiciary Committee this week.

    On Capitol Hill, the halls were jammed with reporters looking for information amid all the rhetoric.

    Judiciary Democrat Dick Durbin took issue with McConnell's defense of Kavanaugh.

  • Sen. Richard Durbin, D-Ill.:

    One moment, he sounds like he's sympathetic to Dr. Ford and what she's been through, calling for fairness. And then, before he catches a breath, he calls her charges unsubstantiated smear.

  • Lisa Desjardins:

    Attention and journalists have focused on undecided senators, like Republican Lisa Murkowski of Alaska, who could decide Kavanaugh's fate.

  • Sen. Lisa Murkowski, R-Alsaka:

    Well, it's very important to take allegations of those who have come forward, to take them seriously. I think it is important that we have a process that is viewed as credible and respected.

  • Lisa Desjardins:

    That hearing with Ford and Kavanaugh remains scheduled for Thursday.

    "NewsHour" has confirmed that Republicans hope to vote on final confirmation for Kavanaugh by early next week.

    For the "PBS NewsHour," I'm Lisa Desjardins.

  • Judy Woodruff:

    We will hear from both sides of the Kavanaugh divide after the news summary.

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