White House officials were probably concerned what Donald Trump might say -- or more to the point, tweet -- about the latest allegations facing Judge Brett Kavanaugh, and they were probably relieved yesterday when the president exercised some restraint. Since the public learned of Christine Blasey Ford's name and her specific claims, Trump hasn't published a word about her or his Supreme Court nominee via social media.
The president was asked at a White House event yesterday, however, whether he believes Ford's allegations. Trump responded:
"Judge Kavanaugh is one of the finest people that I've ever known. He's an outstanding intellect, an outstanding judge. Respected by everybody. Never had even a little blemish on his record.... He is somebody very special. [...]"He is one of the great intellects and one of the finest people that anybody has known. You look at his references; I've never seen anything quite like it."
There was a time when this kind of presidential endorsement of someone's character would be quite meaningful, but with Donald Trump, his track record is a bit of a problem.
Earlier this year, for example, when former White House Staff Secretary Rob Porter faced credible allegations of domestic abuse, Trump argued, "He says he's innocent, and I think you have to remember that."
A few months before that, during Roy Moore's Senate campaign in Alabama, the president was asked about his message to women. "Let me just tell you, Roy Moore denies it," Trump replied. "That's all I can say. He denies it. And by the way, he totally denies it."
The president was similarly dismissive of sexual-misconduct claims against prominent figures from conservative media, including Bill O'Reilly and Roger Ailes.
And, of course, Trump himself has been accused of sexual misconduct, and there's a recording of him bragging about his abusive tactics. He later denied having done what the nation heard him boasting about.
The president would now have us believe that Brett Kavanaugh is "one of the finest people that anybody has known." I'm not in a position to say how many people will believe this assessment about the controversial conservative judge, but given Trump's track record, some skepticism is in order.