South Carolina Republican Sen. Lindsey Graham said Tuesday that if President Donald Trump's Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh's vote fails in the US Senate, Trump should re-nominate him.
"I believe Judge Kavanaugh will be confirmed to the Supreme Court very soon," Graham said in a statement. "However, if his nomination were to fall short, I would encourage President Trump to re-nominate Judge Kavanaugh to the Supreme Court. It would -- in effect -- be appealing the Senate's verdict directly to the American people."
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Graham encouraged his colleagues to stand by Kavanaugh, whose nomination is awaiting the results of an FBI investigation into a sexual assault allegation against him by Christine Blasey Ford as well as an accusation of inappropriate sexual behavior by Deborah Ramirez. Both incidents allegedly happened in the 1980s. Kavanaugh has denied all the allegations against him.
"I would again ask every senator who believes Judge Kavanaugh is a highly qualified, capable nominee to the Supreme Court to not quit on him," Graham said. "It is incredibly important we do not legitimize these smears and attempts at character assassination for the good of the Court, the future of the Senate, and the character of our nation."
Graham has been a passionate defender of Kavanaugh's nomination. During Kavanaugh's testimony related to Ford's allegations last Thursday, Graham accused Democrats of trying to "destroy" Kavanaugh's life for political gain.
"I cannot imagine what you and your family have gone through," Graham told Kavanaugh last week. "I hope the American people can see through this sham."
In an interview with CNN's Wolf Blitzer, Vermont independent Sen. Bernie Sanders said Tuesday he did not understand Graham's statement, but emphasized the need for an in-depth investigation into allegations of sexual assault against Kavanaugh.
"I really just don't understand what Graham is talking about," Sanders said. "Clearly what has to happen now is the FBI needs to do a full investigation of his veracity."
Sanders said the FBI investigation should be thorough and completed before the nomination is brought to a vote.
"Whatever the truth may be, we need a full investigation to give members of the Senate the information they need to make a fair decision on Mr. Kavanaugh."
While Republicans have overwhelmingly supported Trump's nominee, the White House instructed the FBI to investigate the allegations followed by a push for such a probe by Arizona GOP Sen. Jeff Flake. Flake is one of three key undecided GOP senators who could determine whether Kavanaugh is nominated.