SALT LAKE CITY — An angry Sen. Orrin Hatch said U.S. Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh is not the "monster" he's being made out to be in the Senate Judiciary Committee hearing Thursday.
"I hate to say this but this is worse than Robert Bork. I didn't think it could get any worse than that. This is worse than Clarence Thomas. I didn't think it could get any worse than that. This is a national disgrace the way you're being treated," the Utah Republican said.
Christine Blasey Ford, a Palo Alto University professor, accused Kavanaugh of sexually assaulting her when they were both in high school in 1982. Kavanaugh and Ford spent hours before the committee Thursday.
During a break in Ford's testimony, Hatch called Ford "attractive" and a "nice person" in a hallway exchange with reporters.
Neither Hatch nor Sen. Mike Lee, R-Utah, asked Ford questions during her testimony.
Like all the Republicans on the committee, they let Arizona prosecutor Rachel Mitchell question Ford. The committee retained Mitchell to allow the panel's 11 Republicans — all white men — to avoid the appearance of grilling Ford in the nationally televised hearing.
Mitchell also questioned Kavanaugh for GOP senators early in his time before the committee, but they abandoned that strategy to rail on Democrats and defend the judge.
His voice rising several octaves, Hatch lamented the committee looking back at Kavanaugh's high school and college years. That Kavanugh drank in high school and college doesn't make him guilty of the accusations leveled against him, he said.
"He was an immature high schooler. So were we all," Hatch said. "That he wrote or said stupid things sometimes does not make him a sexual predator."
Hatch said Kavanaugh is a well-respected judge and law professor who is loved by his colleagues and students.
"This man is not a monster nor is he what has been represented here in these hearings," he said.
Lee criticized Sen. Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif., the committee's ranking member, for holding on to Ford's allegations for weeks, saying she had a "moral duty and obligation" to report them to the FBI.
"That could have been handled in such a way that didn’t turn this into a circus," he said.
Lee said it's ironic that Democrats repeatedly called for an FBI investigation during the hearing, while being in the middle of a conversation with Kavanaugh.
"If you have questions for Judge Kavanaugh, ask him. He’s right here. If that’s really what you want is the truth, ask him questions right now. If you have questions of other witnesses, then for the love of all that is sacred and holy, participate in the committee investigations that have been going on," Lee said.
Over a lunch break in Ford's testimony, Hatch told reporters "it’s too early to say" if she is credible.
"I don’t think she’s uncredible. I think she's an attractive, good witness," he said.
Asked by a CNN reporter what he meant by attractive, the senator said, “in other words, she’s pleasing.”
Hatch said he thinks the committee would be prepared to vote tomorrow.
When asked if he’s learned anything new, Hatch said “no I haven’t, at least I can’t think of anything.”
He told reporters he doesn’t have a strong impression so far.
"I'll say this, she’s attractive and she’s a nice person,” he said heading to an elevator.
Hatch spokesman Matt Whitlock later tweeted: “Hatch uses ‘attractive’ to describe personalities, not appearances. If you search his past quotes you’ll see he’s used it consistently for years for men and women he believed has compelling personalities.”
Hatch chimed in a couple of other times during Kavanaugh's testimony.
As Sen. Patrick Leahy, D-Vt., pressed Kavanaugh on whether he's the “Bart O’Kavanaugh” referred to in one of his friend Mark Judge’s books. Leahy was looking for a yes-or-no answer, but Kavanaugh said, "No no no no … I'm going to talk about my high school record if you're going to sit here and mock me."
"Let him answer," Hatch interjected.
Committee Chairman Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa, intervened a few minutes later saying Kavanaugh should be treated as fairly as Ford was during her testimony.
"I'll say," Hatch said.
Sen. Dick Durbin, D-Ill., pressed Kavanaugh to call for an FBI investigation and asked him if he was afraid that the FBI would find that he was lying.
Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C. was heard over his microphone saying "please," while Hatch added "gee whiz."66 comments on this story
As the hearings concluded, reports circulated that Hatch, Lee and Graham had been "doxed" during the proceedings, as their Wikipedia pages were updated to include personal information, like phone numbers and addresses.
Matt Whitlock, Hatch's spokesman, confirmed the incident and expressed his anger Thursday evening.
"It's shocking that someone would post Senator Hatch and other Judiciary Committee Republicans' home addresses online, putting their families at risk. That it happened as they were asking questions in a Supreme Court confirmation hearing is just another indication of how broken this process has become."