Kyrsten Sinema at a campaign event in Scottsdale on October 1. "I think an investigation is always appropriate when serious allegations of this nature have been made."EXPAND
Kyrsten Sinema at a campaign event in Scottsdale on October 1. "I think an investigation is always appropriate when serious allegations of this nature have been made."
Joseph Flaherty

Kyrsten Sinema Not Ready to Make Judgment on Kavanaugh Allegations

Update, October 5: Kyrsten Sinema announced on Thursday that she would not support Brett Kavanaugh's nomination if she were a sitting senator. When explaining her new position, Sinema expressed frustration that the Senate moved forward "without providing transparency" into the FBI investigation.

"Arizonans deserve to know more about this investigation," Sinema said in a statement. "I am also concerned about Judge Brett Kavanaugh's demeanor and words during last week's hearing, which became ugly and partisan. Finally, it appears that Judge Kavanaugh was not truthful in some parts of his testimony.

Democratic Senate candidate Kyrsten Sinema said on Monday that she is reserving judgment on Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh until the FBI completes an investigation into sexual assault accusations against him.

"I think what's important here is that the Senate can wait for the thorough FBI investigation and that senators make a decision based on the reports of that FBI investigation," Sinema told reporters at a campaign event in Scottsdale. "That is the appropriate step forward."

However, Sinema would not say how she would vote on his nomination if given the opportunity as a sitting senator.

She was in Scottsdale to meet volunteers at a Democratic Party campaign office, hoping to rally them before early voting begins in Arizona on October 10. Sinema will make similar stops in Tempe, the west Valley, and Tucson over the rest of the week.

Polls show that the race between Sinema and her Republican opponent, Congresswoman Martha McSally, is a toss-up.

Sinema has positioned herself as a pragmatist and appears to be charting a path to victory in a Republican-dominated state by avoiding explosive issues that could alienate independents and moderates, like whether Kavanaugh is guilty or innocent of the sexual misconduct allegations against him.

On Thursday, Christine Blasey Ford, who has accused Kavanaugh of sexually assaulting her at a party while the two were in high school, gave emotional testimony to the Senate Judiciary Committee and a Maricopa County sex crimes prosecutor, Rachel Mitchell, who was selected to question her.

Afterward, Kavanaugh delivered a forceful and combative denial.

As it happens, Sinema is vying to replace Arizona's outgoing Senator Jeff Flake, who on Friday maneuvered Republican leaders and the White House to launch an FBI investigation, backed up by two moderate Republican colleagues. Nevertheless, Flake stipulated that the investigation should be limited to no more than a week.

When asked on Monday whether people ought to believe Kavanaugh's accusers and whether a more lengthy investigation is warranted, Sinema avoided the first question. She simply said, "I think an investigation is always appropriate when serious allegations of this nature have been made."

Sinema added that she was "incredibly disappointed" by politicians like McSally who immediately staked their support or opposition to Kavanaugh hours after President Trump tapped him to replace retiring Justice Anthony Kennedy.

"I reserved judgment because the truth is that we didn't know, and so I've been taking the time to research his judicial history and his approach to jurisprudence," Sinema said. "And if I were in the Senate today, I would have questions for him. One of my concerns is his approach to privacy."

She described the importance of senators undertaking a "lengthy and personal interview" with Supreme Court picks.

Should Kavanaugh get confirmed, Democrats have raised the possibility of impeaching him – the process requires a majority vote in the House and a two-thirds majority in the Senate, just like impeaching a president. But Sinema said that talking about impeaching Kavanaugh is wrongheaded.

"I do not support impeachment," she said. "What Arizonans are concerned about right now is ensuring that senators are doing their due diligence, and that's why we should wait for the results of the FBI investigation."

Sinema's approach can be contrasted with that of liberal Democratic gubernatorial David Garcia, who has waded into the partisan fight over Kavanaugh's confirmation. Garcia called on incumbent Governor Doug Ducey to rescind his endorsement after Ford went public with her story of sexual assault.

"With the appointment of Kavanaugh to the SCOTUS moving forward, women’s rights in America have never been more at risk," Garcia wrote on Twitter on Friday.

Sinema and Garcia have yet to endorse one another, even though they are fellow Democrats running statewide races. Former President Obama endorsed both of them on Monday.

When asked why she has held back on endorsing Garcia, Sinema only said, "Well, David and I do have some pretty substantive differences on policy issues, but I do respect that he works hard and gets out there and advocates for what he believes in every day."

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