Washington • Sen. Jeff Flake, a key figure in the Supreme Court confirmation battle, on Wednesday harshly criticized President Donald Trump for mocking the account of a woman who has accused Judge Brett Kavanaugh of sexual assault.
"There's no time and no place for remarks like that," Flake, R-Ariz., said on NBC's "Today" show. "To discuss something this sensitive at a political rally is just not right. It's just not right. I wish he hadn't of done it. It's kind of appalling."
Flake, the Judiciary Committee member who pushed to delay the vote on Kavanaugh so the FBI could investigate, leveled his criticism the morning after Trump drew laughs for his remarks at a political rally in Mississippi.
In his most direct attack on Christine Blasey Ford, who has accused Kavanaugh of sexual assault while both were teenagers in Maryland, Trump sought to highlight holes in the account Ford gave in sworn testimony to the Judiciary Committee last week.
“'I don’t know. I don’t know.' ‘Upstairs? Downstairs? Where was it?’ ‘I don’t know. But I had one beer. That’s the only thing I remember,’” Trump said of Ford, as he impersonated her on stage.
"I don't remember," he said repeatedly, apparently mocking her testimony.
Ford has said the incident happened in an upstairs room at a gathering of teenagers and that she is "100 percent" certain it was Kavanaugh who assaulted her, although she has acknowledged that her memories of other details of the evening remain unclear.
Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., has vowed to hold a full Senate vote on the nomination by the end of the week as senators await the results of the FBI probe into the allegations of misconduct by Kavanaugh.
Besides Ford, two other women have publicly accused Kavanaugh of sexual misconduct while he was in high school or college.
Trump's comments at Tuesday night's rally prompted a debate that played out on cable television over whether he had hurt the chances of his nominee.
Flake and two other key Republicans — moderate Sens. Susan Collins of Maine and Lisa Murkowski of Alaska — are declining to say how they’ll vote until they see the results of the FBI investigation, which is expected to be completed before the Senate votes.
Democratic Sens. Heidi Heitkamp of Nporth Dakota and and Joe Manchin of West Virginia also have yet to announce how they will vote.
The Washington Post’s Josh Dawsey and Felicia Sonmez contributed to this report.