One of the Republican senators on the Judiciary Committee listening to the testimony of Christine Blasey Ford told reporters Thursday that the woman who accused Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh of sexual assault is “an attractive, good witness.”
“I don’t think she’s uncredible,” said Hatch, the senior senator from Utah, when asked during the lunch break in Ford’s testimony. “I think she’s an attractive, good witness.”
When CNN asked what he meant by “attractive,” Hatch responded, “In other words, she’s pleasing.”
Hatch’s comments on Ford are significant given that all Republican members of the Senate Judiciary Committee are male, and that they’ve elected to have a female outside counsel – Maricopa, Arizona, Deputy County Attorney Rachel Mitchell – pursue their line of questioning during the hearing.
Matt Whitlock, a spokesman for Hatch, defended the use of the term “attractive” in a series of tweets after the remarks were made public.
“Hatch uses ‘attractive’ to describe personalities, not appearances,” Whitlock wrote in a tweet responding to reporters. “If you search his past quotes you’ll see he’s used it consistently for years for men and women he believed has compelling personalities.”
Lawmakers of both political parties are paying close attention to how Ford is being treated during the hearing. At the start of the lunch break, Republican Sen. Ben Sasse of Nebraska approached Ford to say, “Thank you for being here,” and shook Ford’s hand.
Hatch is one of just three senators who is on the Judiciary Committee now, as well as in 1991 during the confirmation hearings for Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas and the blockbuster hearing featuring Anita Hill. Senate Judiciary Chairman Chuck Grassley, an Iowa Republican, and Vermont Democratic Sen. Patrick Leahy were also on the panel in 1991.
Hatch told CNN he thinks the committee will be prepared for their prescheduled vote Friday to formally advance Kavanaugh’s nomination.
When asked if he’s learned anything new, Hatch said, “No I haven’t. At least I can’t think of anything.”
“‘I’ll say this, she’s attractive and she’s a nice person,” he said as he headed to an elevator bank in the Senate office building.
Hatch earlier this week warned of “phony accusations” following a then-recently surfaced allegation of inappropriate sexual behavior in The New Yorker against Kavanaugh and suggested that Democrats are to blame, saying, it’s not unusual “for our friends on the other side to pull that kind of crap.”
Kavanaugh has denied all the allegations against including those from Ford and those in The New Yorker.
CNN’s MJ Lee, Clare Foran, Manu Raju and Ted Barrett contributed to this report.