TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — President Donald Trump celebrated the confirmation of Brett Kavanaugh to the Supreme Court on Saturday, dismissing allegations of sexual misconduct and declaring he was "100 percent" certain his nominee was innocent.
Trump was aboard Air Force One, traveling to a campaign rally in Kansas, as the Senate voted on an extraordinarily fraught nomination that sparked angry protests, nail-biting votes and a national reckoning about sexual assault allegations and who should be believed.
Trump invited reporters traveling with him to watch the final vote in his private office, delivering a thumbs up from his desk as the confirmation was made official.
"Very, very good," Trump said. "Very happy about it. Great decision. I very much appreciate those 50 great votes and I think he's going to go down as a totally brilliant Supreme Court Justice for many years."
Trump, throughout the day, insisted Kavanagh would not be tainted by the sexual assault allegations from Christine Blasey Ford and others that nearly tanked his nomination. Kavanaugh vigorously asserted his innocence.
One reporter asked the president, "When these allegations first surfaced you said there shouldn't even be a little doubt. Are you 100 percent certain ..." Trump interrupted and began speaking as the question continued, " ... that Ford named the wrong person?"
"I'm 100 percent. I'm 100 percent. I have no doubt," Trump said.
Trump went on to say: "One of the reasons I chose him is because there's nobody with a squeaky-clean past like Brett Kavanaugh because he is an outstanding person and I'm very honored to have chosen him."
Trump continued lashing out at Democrats when he rallied supporters in Topeka, telling them the opposition party conducted a "shameless campaign of political and personal destruction" against Kavanaugh. He said "radical Democrats" have become "an angry, left-wing mob" and "too dangerous and extreme to govern."
Aboard Air Force One, Trump said Kavanaugh had withstood a "horrible, horrible attack" that "nobody should have to go through."
And he revealed that he believes a rally speech in which he mocked Christine Blasey Ford's Senate testimony had been turning point for the nomination.
"I think that the Mississippi speech had great impact," he said, calling it "a very important thing."
Advisers and Senate leaders had urged Trump not to attack Ford publicly, worried such a move would anger on-the-fence senators. But Trump went after her anyway, mocking her testimony and gaps in her memory as a rally crowd laughed and cheered.
White House officials now say they view the speech as a turning point that changed the momentum as it appeared Kavanaugh's nomination was at risk.
Trump campaigned in Kansas for Kris Kobach, secretary of state and the Republican nominee for governor, and Steve Watkins, the GOP nominee in the 2nd Congressional District of eastern Kansas. Retiring Republican Rep. Lynn Jenkins holds the seat, and Democrats hope to flip it.
Trump has been holding rallies across the country as he tries to boost Republican turnout in November's midterm elections that will determine which party will control the House and Senate during the second half of Trump's term.
He said he thinks Republicans "are going to do incredibly well" in the midterm elections after Kavanaugh's confirmation.
"I think we have a momentum that hasn't been seen in years," he said.