WASHINGTON — President Donald Trump ordered the FBI on Friday afternoon to reopen the background investigation of Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh.
A day after an emotional hearing in which Christine Blasey Ford testified before the Senate Judiciary Committee about her allegations against Kavanaugh of sexual assault, Trump told reporters at the White House he thought her testimony was "very compelling" and said "she looks like a very fine woman to me."
However, he continued to stand by Kavanaugh, saying his testimony "was really something that I haven't seen before" and "an incredible moment, I think, in the history of our country."
Asked if he had thought of replacing Kavanaugh, Trump said: "Not even a little bit."
Ford testified that Kavanaugh and a friend pulled her into a bedroom at a house party when they were teenagers. She said an inebriated Kavanaugh pinned her to the bed and tried to remove her clothes but she broke free and ran out of the room. Kavanaugh has vehemently denied the allegations.
The Senate Judiciary Committee approved, along party lines, the nomination of Kavanaugh to the Supreme Court – with a request that the FBI conduct an investigation into sexual assault allegations before the full Senate takes a vote.
Pressed on what he thought of delaying the Kavanaugh vote to allow time for an FBI investigation, Trump said: "Well, I'm going to let the Senate handle that. They'll make their decisions and they do a good job."
Change in tone
It was a change in tone for Trump from Thursday night, when he described Kavanaugh's testimony as "powerful, honest, and riveting." Trump did not comment publicly on Ford's testimony in a Thursday tweet, but denounced Democrats for what he called a "search and destroy strategy," and urged immediate Senate action.
"The Senate must vote!" Trump tweeted.
On Friday, the president also said he had no message for senators who are undecided about whether or not to support Kavanaugh, saying they have to do what they think is right and they "have to be comfortable with themselves."
In his comments about Ford's testimony, Trump said, "certainly she was a very credible witness. She was very good in many respects."
Trump said he didn't know how things will play out, but he expressed optimism.
"I think it will work out very well for the country," Trump said. "I just want it to work out well for the country."