No Safe Seats member Jenny Peterson, left, speaks to a group of women gathered Friday outside U.S. Sen. Johnny Isakson’s Atlanta-area office to protest the nomination of Brett Kavanaugh to the U.S. Supreme Court. (ALYSSA POINTER/ALYSSA.POINTER@AJC.COM)
Photo: Alyssa Pointer
Photo: Alyssa Pointer

Georgia senators take separate stances on new Kavanaugh investigation

Those were the respective words of Johnny Isakson and David Perdue on Friday following a suspenseful day that saw Kavanaugh inch closer to confirmation, but not without a protracted fight in the Senate Judiciary Committee that ended with President Donald Trump ordering the federal law enforcement agency to quickly investigate Christine Blasey Ford’s sexual assault allegations against Kavanaugh.

The maneuvering came as protesters picketed Isakson’s Cobb County office and a stream of top Georgia officials weighed in on the confirmation battle shortly after Thursday’s mesmerizing, emotionally fraught hearing featuring Ford and Kavanaugh.

Perdue said he didn’t need to see the results of the FBI probe, which GOP leaders say must be completed by Oct. 5, to back Kavanaugh. He said Ford’s allegations were uncorroborated, and he bashed Democrats for an “orchestrated effort to cause a delay and push this decision past the election in November.”

“It is time to put the Democrats’ partisan delays behind us,” he said in a statement late Friday afternoon. “It is time to confirm Judge Brett Kavanaugh to the United States Supreme Court.”

Isakson said he was open to considering the FBI’s recommendations before making a final decision on Kavanaugh, although he did suggest he could support the judge if the agency’s investigation did not uncover new information.

“What I’ve said all along is that I like Kavanaugh and he’s well-qualified and I would vote for him,” he said in an interview Friday afternoon. “I also said I want to hear all the information as it comes, and I’ll make a final decision based on the totality of that information.”

Neither Isakson nor Perdue is considered a swing vote on the nominee. Still, the pressure facing the two lawmakers is substantial.

Phone calls from concerned constituents have poured in this week, and on Friday roughly 70 women picketed Isakson’s Cobb County office to protest against Kavanaugh and the Senate’s treatment of Ford.

“Brett Kavanaugh just proved that regardless of the allegations against him, which I do believe are true, he cannot be an impartial judge,” said Rebecca Ford, a protester who had watched parts of Kavanaugh’s testimony. “For a lifetime appointee, we need someone who is fair, honest and impartial.”

Prominent officials from across the political spectrum have also weighed in over the past several days. Gov. Nathan Deal said he “wholeheartedly” supported Kavanaugh and encouraged Isakson and Perdue to confirm him.

Democratic gubernatorial nominee Stacey Abrams said she was disappointed that Thursday’s hearing “devolved very quickly to partisan attacks,” and she praised Ford for coming forward.

Republican Brian Kemp, Abrams’ opponent, has faced pressure from Democrats and advocacy groups to “immediately retract” his support for Kavanaugh. He earlier said he agreed with Republicans who called for a “timely” hearing, but he did not comment further.

Cathy Cooper Champion of north Fulton County said Kavanaugh has a track record of supporting women professionally, and she warned that Thursday’s hearing could set a bad precedent.

“The Salem trials are alive and well,” she said. “If we believe in this, we go back decades to innocent men sitting in jail upon a mere accusation. I call on everyone to use their head and search for the facts.”

The weight of the decision facing the Senate did not escape Isakson, who said both Kavanaugh and Ford were “very powerful” in their testimony.

“They both acquitted themselves well,” he said. “Unfortunately, this is one of those deals where nobody knows what’s true. But the buck stops with the Senate, and everybody’s seeking the truth because in the end we all want to do the right thing.”

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Staff writers Rosalind Bentley and Jennifer Brett contributed to this article.