Trump challenges professor over Brett Kavanaugh sex assault claim

21 September 2018, 17:00 | Updated: 21 September 2018, 18:46

Donald Trump has questioned a professor's claim she was sexually assaulted by a Supreme Court nominee, suggesting that if it happened charges would have been filed "immediately".

Judge Brett Kavanaugh denies allegations that he drunkenly assaulted Professor Christine Blasey Ford at a party while they were in high school 36 years ago.

Commenting on the case, Mr Trump tweeted that he has "no doubt" if the attack on Dr Ford "was as bad as she says", she or "her loving parents" would have "immediately" filed charges.

Calling on Dr Ford to "bring those filings forward so that we can learn date, time, and place!", he asked: "Why didn't someone call the FBI 36 years ago?"

Dr Ford, a clinical psychology professor, accused Judge Kavanaugh of pinning her to a bed at a Maryland party in the early 1980s when she was 15.

She claims Judge Kavanaugh, then 17, tried to remove her clothes and put his hand over her mouth when she started to scream.

It was only because he was drunk that he did not rape her, her lawyer said.

Until Friday, Mr Trump had held back and followed the Republican party line of standing by the judge while insisting Dr Ford be given a respectful, fair hearing.

But the gloves came off as he lay doubt on her allegations and defended his candidate, saying the judge is "a fine man, with an impeccable reputation".

He also claimed Judge Kavanaugh was "under assault by radical left wing politicians who don't want to know the answers".

Dr Ford has yet to give her full account in public and said the FBI should investigate her claim.

The professor said since she made the claims she has "been the target of vicious harassment".

Mr Trump hinted on Thursday that he was ready to fully back Mr Kavanaugh after he said the judge had been treated "very, very tough".

He added: "I can only say this, he is such an outstanding man, very hard for me to imagine that anything happened."

The Senate Judiciary Committee, which oversees Supreme Court nominations, is due to meet next Monday and has invited Ms Ford and Mr Kavanaugh to testify.

Ms Ford's lawyers said earlier this week that she would not appear before the Senate until the FBI has investigated the allegations.

FBI officials have said they are not looking into the matter.

The US' NATO ambassador, Kay Hutchison, told Sky News she thinks the allegations are being taken seriously and the senators "are handling this in the right way, looking at everything that comes in, trying to get all sides, that's the right thing to do".

Judge Kavanaugh appeared to be on course to become a Supreme Court judge, ensuring the Republicans have a majority, but Dr Ford's allegations have disrupted the process.

Democrats oppose Mr Kavanaugh's nomination and have called for the FBI to launch an investigation.

The battle for confirmation comes just weeks before congressional elections on 6 November.