Then-Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell told then-President Donald Trump he felt stronger about Brett Kavanaugh’s chances at getting through his Supreme Court confirmation hearings “than mule piss,” according to a new book by authors Bob Woodward and Robert Costa.
They detailed the exchange in their forthcoming book, “Peril,” an early copy of which was obtained by Insider.
The conversation took place amid Kavanaugh’s contentious confirmation hearings during which Dr. Christine Blasey Ford testified to the Senate about her allegations of sexual assault against Kavanaugh.
Ford was scheduled to testify to the Senate on September 27. That morning, Trump and McConnell spoke over the phone, and Trump asked the Kentucky Republican if he should pull Kavanaugh’s nomination, the book said.
“Why don’t we talk after Dr. Ford testifies,” McConnell said. “Think of that as halftime.”
Lawmakers and pundits on both sides of the aisle later praised Ford’s emotionally charged testimony as credible, while those on the right lauded Kavanaugh’s heated defense. After the testimony wrapped, the book said, Trump called McConnell again to get his assessment.
“How do you feel about Kavanaugh?” the president asked, according to the book. “I feel stronger about Kavanaugh than mule piss,” McConnell responded.
McConnell explained that mule urine is the strongest thing in Kentucky, the book said, and he added, “We ought to stick with him,” referring to Kavanaugh.
The Republican lawmaker also stressed the urgency of the situation.
“We need to wrap this one up one way or the other because we don’t know whether we’ll still be in the majority after November,” following the 2018 midterm elections, he said, according to the book.
Kavanaugh was Trump’s second nominee to the Supreme Court, and his confirmation went a long way in cementing McConnell and Trump’s pledge to move the federal judiciary to the right.
The final vote came after a rocky confirmation process, during which Ford, a psychology professor, told her congressional representatives Kavanaugh sexually assaulted her in 1982, when they were teenagers growing up in suburban Maryland.
She later came forward publicly with her allegations and was invited to testify before the Senate Judiciary Committee, which oversees Supreme Court confirmation hearings.
Ford’s testimony was broadcast on national television and captured worldwide attention. It also lent new steam to the #MeToo movement and renewed questions about accountability for those in positions of political power.
In the end, Kavanaugh was confirmed to the high court by a vote of 50 to 48. Every Senate Republican who was present for the final confirmation voted yes, with the exception of Alaska Sen. Lisa Murkowski, who voted “present.” West Virginia Sen. Joe Manchin was the lone Democrat to vote in favor of Kavanaugh’s confirmation.