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President Donald Trump on Wednesday said that the outcome of the hearing before the Senate Judiciary Committee on Thursday could cause him to change his mind about sexual misconduct allegations against his Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh.
"I can always be convinced" Trump said, "It's possible I'll hear [the allegations] and I'll say, I'm changing my mind!"
Christine Blasey Ford is scheduled to testify about her alleged sexual assault. Ford alleges that Kavanaugh locked her in a room, pinned her down on a bed and attempted to pull her clothes off at a party when they were both teenagers. Kavanaugh has denied the allegation.
Speaking at a rare solo press conference in New York, Trump said Kavanaugh's accusers are going to have "a big shot at speaking and making their case" at Thursday's hearing. "And you know what, I could be persuaded," Trump said.
Asked if the three women who have alleged sexual misconduct by Kavanaugh are "liars," Trump demurred. "I can't tell you whether or not they are liars until I hear them, and I don't know what happened today, because I've been busy" at the United Nations.
The comments marked a significant shift in tone from the president, who has personally attacked two of Kavanaugh's three accusers in recent days. On Tuesday, the president dismissed an allegation of sexual misconduct made by Deborah Ramirez, a Yale University classmate of Kavanaugh's, because he said the alleged victim was drunk at the time she says Kavanaugh exposed himself to her.
Trump's attack on Ramirez came just days after the president tweeted that, "if the attack on Dr. Ford was as bad as she says," then Ford, then 15, would have notified the police.
But Trump's calculus may have shifted on Wednesday, after Washington area government contractor Julie Swetnick alleged that in the early 1980s she witnessed Kavanaugh and his close friend Mark Judge deliberately plying young women with alcohol and drugs in order to incapacitate them and rape them.
At his press conference, Trump described the allegations against Kavanaugh as "very serious charges," using language he typically reserves for people he considers to be guilty.
Swetnick also said in a sworn statement that she saw Kavanaugh waiting in line outside a bedroom for his turn to have sex with an incapacitated young woman at a party. Kavanaugh called Swetnick's allegation "ridiculous."
Nonetheless, coming on the heels of allegations by Ford and Ramirez, Swetnick's new claims threatened to deal a death blow to Kavanaugh's chances of being confirmed to the Supreme Court, a confirmation which had once seemed all but certain.
"I'm going to see what happens tomorrow," Trump said. "I'm going to be watching, you know, believe it or not, I'm going to see what's said. It's possible that [Ford] will be convincing."