Republican gubernatorial nominee Ron DeSantis is blaming Democrats for mishandling allegations raised against President Donald Trump's Supreme Court nominee.
At an education event Tuesday in Tampa, the former congressman said Democrats should have raised concerns about Judge Brett Kavanaugh's alleged past sexual misconduct before the days leading up to his confirmation vote.
"It bothers me that the Democrats did not ask him about this previously. They've had this information, they did not ask him about it and now we're kind of going through that," DeSantis said outside of Tampa's Franklin Middle School. "So that smacks to me as a little dirty pool on the part of the Democrats."
DeSantis' answer came in response to a question about whether Kavanaugh's confirmation vote should be delayed. DeSantis, who resigned from Congress last week, said he didn't have all of the information about the case because he no longer serves in Washington. He did not state whether he found the accusation against Kavanaugh to be credible.
Instead, DeSantis focused on the timing of the allegation. Last week, U.S. Sen. Diane Feinstein, D-Calif., referred a letter written by Christine Blasey Ford — who said she wished to remain anonymous — to the FBI. The letter describes an interaction Ford said she had with Kavanaugh in 1982, when they were high school students in suburban Maryland. Ford said one night during a party that summer, an intoxicated 17-year-old Kavanaugh pinned her down, began groping at her clothes and held her mouth to prevent her from screaming.
Ford told her story on the record to the Washington Post on Sunday, throwing into chaos what had already been a tumultuous confirmation process for Kavanaugh — who has categorically denied the allegation.
Much like DeSantis, Republicans on the Senate Judiciary Committee have blamed Feinstein for sitting on the allegation.
"Senator Feinstein…has had this information for many weeks and deprived her colleagues of the information necessary to do our jobs," the chairman of that committee, Sen. Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa, said in a statement Monday.
Gov. Rick Scott, who's running for the U.S. Senate, also blamed Democrats for withholding the allegation in a statement Tuesday. Scott said Ford deserves a "fair hearing" and Kavanaugh "deserves to have the chance to clear his name."
The Post reported that earlier this summer, Ford contacted her congresswoman, Anna Eshoo, D-Calif., when she learned Kavanaugh was on President Trump's Supreme Court short list. But she ultimately decided not to come forward with her allegation.
Last week, Ford reversed that decision after news of her letter to Eshoo leaked to the Intercept. That outlet did not specify from where it got information about the letter.
Here's the full exchange with DeSantis in Tampa:
Question: Do you believe a committee vote on Brett Kavanaugh's confirmation should be delayed? You want to appoint Supreme Court justices to the Florida Supreme Court.
DeSantis: "I don't have all the details on that. I'm not in the Congress anymore. But, I will say that it bothers me that the Democrats did not ask him about this previously. They've had this information, they did not ask him about it and now we're kind of going through that. So that smacks to me as a little dirty pool on the part of the Democrats. I think they should have — they had ample time to interview him, they should have asked him about it then. They had the information, and they didn't do it."