Hillary Clinton Says Kavanaugh’s Revenge Claim Deserves ‘Laughter’

(Bloomberg) -- Hillary Clinton said Tuesday that Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh "deserves a lot of laughter" for his claim that "revenge on behalf of the Clintons" is one of the motives for opposition to his confirmation.

"I thought it was just part of the whole of his very defensive and unconvincing presentation" to the Senate Judiciary Committee last week, Clinton, the 2016 Democratic presidential nominee who lost to President Donald Trump, said at the Atlantic Festival in Washington.

Clinton’s comments came as she’s stepping back into politics a little more than a month before a pivotal midterm vote that will decide control of Congress. After mostly staying out of the spotlight following the 2016 election, Clinton has started ramping up her public presence with endorsements, fundraisers and small campaign events.

The risk for Clinton, and Democrats, is that while she helps motivate some Democrats, she’s also unpopular with other voters. A Sept. 28 Gallup poll found her favorability rating with the public remained at a record low of 36 percent, lower than Trump’s approval rating of 41 percent. She remains a frequent target of Republicans, including Trump, who at a campaign rally on Monday in Tennessee made reference to “crooked Hillary Clinton.” The mention of her name drew boos from the pro-Trump crowd.

"If Democrats want to mobilize and energize Republicans, then trotting out Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama is the absolute best way to do it," said Matt Gorman, a spokesman for the National Republican Congressional Committee, which helps elect House Republicans.

Democrats, however, say the party can use her to boost candidates in some districts without hurting candidates running in places where she’s unpopular.

"I find it to be incredibly annoying that people want her to just retreat and go away," said Adrienne Elrod, a Democratic strategist who was director of strategic communications for Clinton’s 2016 campaign. "The bottom line is she’s still a very, very effective surrogate, especially for Democrats, especially among women."

Polarizing Issue

Kavanaugh’s nomination has emerged as one of the most polarizing issues in this year’s campaign, and it’s also widening what was already a large gap between how men and women view the election.

His testimony in front of the Senate panel followed an appearance by Christine Blasey Ford, who accused him of sexually assaulting her when they were in high school. He strongly denied the allegation in testimony that was at times angry and tearful.

Kavanaugh told the panel, "This whole two-week effort has been a calculated and orchestrated political hit, fueled with apparently pent-up anger about President Trump and the 2016 election, fear that has been unfairly stoked about my judicial record, revenge on behalf of the Clintons and millions of dollars in money from outside, left-wing opposition groups."

Kavanaugh worked for Independent Counsel Ken Starr during the controversial investigation of Bill Clinton’s presidency that led to his impeachment on charges of perjury and obstruction of justice stemming from a sexual harassment lawsuit and his statements about an affair with a White House intern. The president was acquitted after a Senate trial in 1999.

Hillary Clinton said Tuesday she found Ford to be a "very credible" witness. Regarding Kavanaugh’s testimony, she said that for anyone who is concerned about judicial temperament, "there’s a lot to be concerned about."

View of Trump

Asked about the man who defeated her two years ago, Clinton said that she’d hoped Trump would try to reach out to people who had doubts about him, but that wasn’t the case. "From the beginning, starting with the speech he gave at the inauguration, it was clear that that was not his intention," she said.

Instead, she said, Trump has "doubled down" on appealing only to his base of supporters, and is also "degrading the rule of law," "spreading corruption," and "undermining our national unity."

Clinton’s interview at the Atlantic Festival followed her attendance at a roundtable discussion with J.B. Pritzker, a Democrat running for governor of Illinois, Monday in Chicago. Later this month She plans to campaign with Andrew Gillum, a Democrat running for governor of Florida. Her organization Onward Together, a political action committee aimed at boosting progressive groups, has donated $5,000 to 19 House Democratic candidates as of June 30.

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