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Trump's offensive against Leahy reflects ongoing confusion

Donald Trump is trying to turn the tables on Senate Democrats who oppose Brett Kavanaugh's nomination. It's not going well.
Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Patrick Leahy (D-VT), February 4, 2014 in Washington, D.C.
Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Patrick Leahy (D-VT), February 4, 2014 in Washington, D.C.

During a White House press conference on Monday, Donald Trump argued that Senate Democrats have been hypocritical, going after Brett Kavanaugh over his alleged misdeeds, despite their own personal failings.

"I will tell you, I watched those senators on the Democrat side, and I thought it was a disgrace -- and partially because I know them," the president said. "I know them too well. And you know what? They are not angels."

Soon after, Trump went on to suggest he had damaging information on one unnamed senator in particular. He pointed to a "pretty aggressive" Democrat whom Trump claims to have seen in "very bad" and "somewhat compromising" situations. He declined an opportunity to elaborate.

It wasn't at all clear whom the president was referring to -- or why he was making the comments. Was this some kind of blackmail attempt? Was it a threat to expose dirt on an opponent unless he or she backed off?

Last night in Mississippi, Trump went a little further.

President Trump hinted Tuesday at a rally in Mississippi that Sen. Patrick Leahy, D-Vt., could have a drinking habit.The president told the crowd that they should do an online search for "Patrick Leahy dash drink.""Patrick Leahy -- oh he's never had a drink in his life," Trump sarcastically said at the campaign-style rally. "Check it out. Look under 'Patrick Leahy slash drink.'"

The Washington Examiner, a conservative outlet, added in its report that the president seemed to be "flipping the script on Democrats who have thoroughly questioned the drinking habits of Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh when he was a teenager."

But if that was the intended goal, it suggests Trump is badly confused about the nature of the controversy.

I haven't the foggiest idea if Pat Leahy has, or has ever had, a drinking problem. Maybe the allegation is true, maybe the president made it up, maybe this is some kind of weird oppo dump. With Trump, it's often hard to tell.

The underlying question, however, is one of relevance. I'm not aware of anyone who's suggested Kavanaugh should not be confirmed because he may have had a problem with alcohol. Rather, the Supreme Court nominee stands accused of drinking to excess, sexually assaulting women, and lying about his behavior under oath.

Trump seems to think the proper response to this, in addition to mocking one of Kavanaugh's accusers, is accusing a leading Senate Democrat of having a drinking problem.

That doesn't make sense.

I don't blame Trump for feeling a sense of desperation and trying to turn the tables, but he should try to do so in a way that suggests he understands the basic tenets of the ongoing debate.