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Kellyanne Conway: Kavanaugh ready to ‘clear his name’

Counselor to the President Kellyanne Conway says Brett Kavanaugh's confirmation to the Supreme Court has not been thrown off track by decades-old allegations of sexual assault that emerged over the last week. Conway joins Judy Woodruff to share her reaction to the release of the allegations and why she thinks it’s good for both parties to tell their sides of the story.

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  • Judy Woodruff:

    To get the White House perspective, I'm joined now by Kellyanne Conway, who served as a — serves as a counselor to President Trump.

    Kellyanne Conway, welcome to the "NewsHour."

    This nomination of Judge Kavanaugh was on track for a vote this Thursday. Then come these allegations. Now they're going to be holding yet another public hearing next week.

    How much has it been thrown off-track?

  • Kellyanne Conway:

    Well, to Judge Kavanaugh, not much, because he has said that he would — he's ready to testify tomorrow.

    If the Senate changes its mind and wants to call him in immediately, he's here in Washington, D.C. And he's ready. He wants to, as he puts it, clear his name of a false allegation. He has said today that he doesn't — he wasn't at the party.

    And, as I said all throughout the day, it's good to hear from both the accuser and the accused here, and allow the Senate to weigh what they learn in those exchanges, along with the mountain of other testimonial evidence and other statements of support and endorsements of Brett Kavanaugh by the women he's known all throughout his life, Judy.

    And it is not insignificant. It's high school, it's college, it's law school, it's his female law clerks. It's the moms of the young girls he's coached through youth basketball, the people who have stood shoulder to shoulder with him feeding the hungry here in Washington, D.C. as part of his charitable works.

    So all of this needs to be judged together, the academics, the credentials, the judicial temperament, the character, integrity of someone who has been through six FBI vetting processes over the years and who has served for 12 years in the second highest court in this country.

  • Judy Woodruff:

    So, what is the standard going to be for Professor Ford?

    How will you and others at the White House judge whether she's telling the truth?

  • Kellyanne Conway:

    Well, that's for the Senate Judiciary Committee to judge.

    They have called her to come and testify. They choose the process. They choose the timing. And they choose the forum through which that testimony will be heard.

    That is up to them. We respect that process here at the White House. The president said as much today and also said that it's unfortunate that Senator Feinstein sat on this for so long. I respectfully disagree with Senator Leahy, who just interviewed before me, that it doesn't matter.

    It does matter, because Senator Feinstein had ample opportunity to raise this privately with Judge Kavanaugh or publicly, however she chose to do. There were private phone calls where sensitive matters are normally raised in the course of these pre-hearing conversations.

    And there was 1,300 written questions. So, the president said today there will be a little delay, but that it's a — quote — "ridiculous question" that Judge Kavanaugh would withdraw his nomination at this point.

  • Judy Woodruff:

    So, just quickly, are you saying that Senator Feinstein should have ignored Professor Ford's request for anonymity?

  • Kellyanne Conway:

    No, I didn't say that.

    And whoever breached that guarantee to her ought to, I believe, either come forward or — or others should recognize that they did her a disservice. And they're doing Judge Kavanaugh a disservice as well.

    I think they're both being treated unfairly by that individual who is sending press to her place of work and other places. So this is what — the White House obviously and the president himself has said let the process take hold, which includes them both testifying through whatever form the Senate Judiciary Committee decides.

    But I also want to say all the evidence will be weighed. And Senator Leahy again and others were not being very honest by not admitting that he wasn't going to vote for Brett Kavanaugh to be on the Supreme Court in the first place.

    A lot of people in the Senate weren't going to vote for him anyway.

    (CROSSTALK)

  • Judy Woodruff:

    I'm sorry to keep interrupting, but I do want to ask you a couple of other questions in the time we have.

    Is President Trump open to believing Professor Ford if she comes across as credible, if the committee believes her?

  • Kellyanne Conway:

    President Trump has said, let the process play out. Let them both be heard.

  • Judy Woodruff:

    But is he…

  • Kellyanne Conway:

    He's made that clear. We have said that all day.

    And I just do want to reiterate that Judge Kavanaugh has said he's ready. He just learned the accuser's name yesterday. And yet he's ready right here and right now to testify under oath, the way he already has for about 24 or 30 hours as part of this hearing to be the next justice to the United States Supreme Court.

  • Judy Woodruff:

    So, the president, so the White House is prepared to accept her testimony if it comes across as truthful and credible?

  • Kellyanne Conway:

    The White House is watching the process play out.

    I'm not going to — you're asking me a hypothetical question about future testimony. We believe that she should be heard. We believe he should be heard. And we should believe they can both be heard very quickly, without derailing the very important process that's in front of us.

  • Judy Woodruff:

    And final question.

    If her testimony does come across as credible, as believable, is this something that should derail his nomination? Should it set aside a nomination?

  • Kellyanne Conway:

    The — I can't prejudge a testimony I haven't heard.

    I simply learned this woman's name yesterday. I read the accounts in the newspaper. I know that they are 36 years old. She — she says that she doesn't remember large pieces of it. And I suppose those questions will be asked of her as well. What do you remember?

    He says he wasn't there. Could it be somebody else?

  • Judy Woodruff:

    But if it were true…

  • Kellyanne Conway:

    If he was there, you're going to ask him, why are you saying you weren't there? Can you tell us where you were if you weren't there?

    I mean, but, Judy, also, I must remind everybody, this is a Senate hearing. This is not a court of law. And so I'm not sure, as a fully recovered attorney of many decades, what the different standards for those will be.

    They will both the under oath, though, and that's important here. Judge Kavanaugh has testified under oath for more than 25 hours so far in pursuit of this — the same process. And so we're yet to hear from the accuser under oath. We already know — it sounds like we already know most, if not all of what she wants to say.

    And she will have an opportunity to say that. But we respect the process in the Senate. This is the Senate and the Senate Judiciary Committee's process. And we will be watching that from the White House. And the president will stand ready to act accordingly.

  • Judy Woodruff:

    But, just quickly, you're not — you're not prepared to say, if it were true, if it were believable, you would — you're not prepared to say what effect that would have on the nomination?

  • Kellyanne Conway:

    You're asking me — I'm sorry.

  • Judy Woodruff:

    OK.

  • Kellyanne Conway:

    But you're asking me if what were true.

    In other words, we're going to listen to the testimony of people. I haven't heard that testimony under oath. I know that Judge Kavanaugh, as recently as today, said the allegations are false. He wasn't at the party.

    I'm looking at all the character and integrity testimonials that he's had in his favor, including by many women who have known him, hundreds of women throughout his career and his personal life, and that this accuser has also come out at the — late in the game to say she would like to be heard.

    We respect that they're both going to be heard under oath. That is what a democratic process allows. And we're all for it.

  • Judy Woodruff:

    Kellyanne Conway, counselor to President Trump, thank you very much.

  • Kellyanne Conway:

    Thank you.

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