Isakson keeps opinions to himself during Kavanaugh hearing

Credit: Alex Wong

Credit: Alex Wong

Updated at 8:45 a.m. on 09/28/18

WASHINGTON -- Like countless people across the country, Georgia U.S. Sen. Johnny Isakson spent a good chunk of his Thursday in front of the television, transfixed by his colleagues’ questioning of Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh and his accuser Christine Blasey Ford.

“This is one of the things you’ll talk about to your grandchildren,” the three-term Republican said on Thursday evening. “This was one of probably the five most interesting days in the United States Senate.”

Isakson has kept his opinion of Kavanaugh to himself after multiple sexual assault allegations surfaced in recent weeks. Prior to the allegations, he had vowed to back the circuit court judge.

Isakson did not provide any hints about how he was leaning after a day of testimony before the Senate Judiciary Committee, although he said he planned to vote to begin debate on Kavanaugh’s nomination on the Senate floor.

“I made a decision not to talk to y’all about that until I vote,” he told reporters after huddling with GOP senators following the hearing.

Much of the country – and metro Atlanta – was absorbed in the Judiciary Committee's tension and tear-filled proceedings, which kicked off at 10 a.m. and stretched into the evening. The emotionally-raw testimony of Ford and Kavanaugh felt not unlike Clarence Thomas' historic confirmation battle 27 years prior.

Protesters backing both Ford and Kavanaugh crowded the lobbies and parks outside the Senate’s office buildings. In the hearing room and hallways surrounding the Senate chamber, lawmakers pointed fingers at the opposing party for the handling of Kavanaugh’s nomination.

Isakson avoided the partisan bickering but did compliment the way Senate Judiciary Chairman Chuck Grassley handled the process. He said colleague Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., who forcefully defended Kavanaugh in the hearing room, was like “Matlock at his best.”

U.S. Sen. David Perdue has also not said definitively how he plans to vote. But the freshman Republican has defended Kavanaugh's credentials in recent days, even as he promised to hear out Ford. On Thursday he took a swipe at Democrats for the way they acted during the hearing.

“I think the Democratic side showed their true colors today,” he said. “I don’t know that they’re after the truth but I feel like today we got the evidence before the committee and that’s what we wanted to do.”

Isakson and Perdue are not considered swing votes should Kavanaugh’s nomination make it to the Senate floor. Both have backed every one of Trump’s nominees who have made it that far in the confirmation process.

They may be the only Georgians with the power to cast a vote on Kavanaugh, but that didn’t stop other prominent locals from weighing in Thursday on social media.

Gov. Nathan Deal weighed in late in the day, tweeting that the judge's "record is impeccable and his testimony speaks for itself."

“I wholeheartedly support him and encourage our nation’s senators to do the same and confirm him to the Supreme Court,” he said.

Conservative WSB radio host Erick Erickson said Ford had “no facts and no witnesses, just raw emotion.”

"Kavanaugh has raw emotion, facts, a detailed calendar to refute the charge, and the absence of all of Ford's witnesses," he tweeted.

U.S. Rep. Hank Johnson, D-Lithonia, thanked Ford for “giving a voice to survivors everywhere.”

The reaction from State Sen. Nikema Williams, D-Atlanta, was more pointed. She tweeted about Kavanaugh: "You sexually assaulted #DrFord. You are trash."

Cox Media Group’s Jamie Dupree contributed to this article. 

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