Jones: ‘Unprecedented ugliness’ over confirmation vote

MONTGOMERY, Ala. (AP) — U.S. Sen. Doug Jones of Alabama said Thursday that the debate over Brett Kavanaugh’s nomination to the Supreme Court has brought out unprecedented “ugliness” on both sides of the contest.

Senators are expected to vote this week on the nominee. Kavanaugh has denied allegations that he sexually assaulted a woman when he was a teenager in the 1980s.

“The hate and ugliness that I have witnessed is unprecedented, and I hope, God I hope, does not reflect who we really are as Americans. And it has been on both sides,” said Jones, the only Democrat holding statewide office in Alabama.

Speaking on a call with journalists, Jones said those opposing the nomination “have accosted my colleagues in restaurants, airports and other places.” And he said those supporting the nominee “have threatened to turn the tables on senators and their families, including myself.”

“I’ve even had callers telling the young women who’ve answered my phones that they hope they are sexually assaulted,” Jones added.

Jones announced earlier that he would vote against Kavanaugh, saying the process was rushed and flawed.

He said Thursday that he did not expect his decision to change. However, Jones said he wanted to review an FBI report on the assault allegation.

Jones, the only Democrat to hold statewide office in Alabama, could face political consequences if he votes against President Donald Trump’s nominee in a state that Trump easily carried. The Alabama Republican Party on social media has urged people to call Jones’ office and express their support for Kavanaugh.

Jones said Thursday that this was “not a political call for me.”

“I’ve tried to do my due diligence and exercise my best judgment,” he said.

Jones said he had additional concerns about Kavanaugh’s testimony before the Senate Judiciary Committee. He said Kavanaugh has “every right to be angry and defensive” if the allegations are untrue. But he believed Kavanaugh made inappropriate “partisan attacks demonstrating a temperament that is unbecoming a sitting judge much less a Supreme Court nominee.”

He said he also wanted to see the nominee welcome a full vetting of the allegations.

The state’s junior senator said a “full and fair investigation” would have come to conclusions about the accusations.

“The way the procedure has gone on now. There will always be a cloud,” Jones said.

Key senators undecided as Senate poised to vote on Kavanaugh