US President Donald Trump is facing criticism from fellow Republicans after he mocked a woman who says she was assaulted by his Supreme Court nominee.
Senators Jeff Flake and Susan Collins, both key votes to confirm Brett Kavanaugh, spoke out a day after Mr Trump’s remarks at a Mississippi rally.
Mr Flake called the president’s comments “appalling”, and Ms Collins said they were “just plain wrong”.
Last week Mr Trump called Christine Blasey Ford a “credible” witness.
If approved, Judge Kavanaugh, 53, would be expected to tilt the ideological balance of the Supreme Court in favour of conservatives.
Its nine justices are appointed for life and have the final say on some of the most contentious issues in US public life, from abortion, to gun control, to voting laws.
Mr Flake – who helped spur the FBI investigation into Judge Kavanaugh – told NBC’s Today show he wished the president had not spoken out.
“There’s no time and no place for remarks like that,” he 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 had done it.”
Mr Flake, of Arizona, is a closely watched swing vote as Republicans can potentially only afford one defection if they are to confirm their nominee.
Ms Collins, a moderate Republican from Maine, has not yet said whether she will vote for Judge Kavanaugh either.
“The president’s comments were just plain wrong,” she told reporters on Wednesday.
What is the other reaction?
Prof Ford’s lawyer, Michael Bromwich, described Mr Trump’s words as “a vicious, vile and soulless attack” on her.
“Is it any wonder that she was terrified to come forward, and that other sexual assault survivors are as well?” he added.
Democratic leader Senator Chuck Schumer took to the Senate floor on Wednesday to denounce Mr Trump’s “outright mockery of a sexual assault survivor.”
But White House aide Kellyanne Conway brushed aside the criticism, saying Prof Ford has “been treated like a Fabergé [egg] by all of us”.
What did Mr Trump say?
At Tuesday night’s rally, Mr Trump poked fun at Prof Ford for not remembering key details about the alleged assault 36 years ago.
He said: “Where’s the house? 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. And a man’s life is in tatters.”
Shortly after Prof Ford’s testimony to the Senate last week, Mr Trump said she was a “very fine woman” and “a very credible witness”.
Earlier on Tuesday, Mr Trump told reporters it was a “very scary time for young men in America when you can be guilty of something that you may not be guilty of”.
What does Prof Ford remember?
When she spoke before the Senate committee last Thursday, Prof Ford recalled that the house where the alleged assault took place was in the Chevy Chase-Bethesda area in the Washington DC suburbs.
The president seemed to suggest she did not know on what floor of the property the alleged attack had occurred, but Prof Ford told senators she remembered being pushed into a bedroom on the upstairs level.
She testified that Judge Kavanaugh held held his hand over her mouth to prevent her shouts from being heard, and attempted to “rape” her at the party in the summer of 1982.
Arizona prosecutor Rachel Mitchell, who questioned Prof Ford during testimony, said she had told a polygrapher it happened in the early 80s, then crossed out the word “early”.
Prof Ford did acknowledge in her testimony that she could not provide all the details asked of her – including how she arrived at the party or how she left it and where exactly it took place.
“I don’t have all the answers, and I don’t remember as much as I would like to,” she said. “But the details about that night that bring me here today are ones I will never forget.”
Experts have said it is not unusual for victims of trauma to remember certain details vividly but have little recollection of other things to which the brain may have accorded less significance.
‘Ex-boyfriends’ attack accusers
Prof Ford’s legal team has released a statement to rebut claims by a purported ex-boyfriend of hers.
Fox News has obtained a letter from a man who says he was in a relationship with Prof Ford from 1992-98.
In the correspondence, the man contradicted her testimony that she had never given anyone advice on taking lie-detector tests.
The unidentified man says he witnessed Prof Ford coach a friend on how to take a polygraph while applying for a government job.
He said the California psychology professor “explained in detail what to expect, how polygraphs worked and helped [her] become familiar and less nervous about the exam”.
Prof Ford’s legal team released a statement from Prof Ford’s friend, Monica McLean, the woman named in the purported ex-boyfriend’s letter.
Ms McLean denied that Prof Ford had ever had any “type of assistance whatsoever in connection with any polygraph exam I have taken at anytime”.
Senate Judiciary Committee Republicans on Tuesday took the extraordinary step of releasing another letter attacking another Kavanaugh accuser, Julie Swetnick.
The correspondence was sent by a man identifying himnself as a former boyfriend of Ms Swetnick.
Her lawyer, Michael Avenatti, told the Washington Post the letter was “bogus and outrageous”.
Ms Swetnick accuses Judge Kavanaugh of involvement in alleged drugging and sexual assault of girls at house parties in the 1980s.
On Sunday, Senate Republicans said Ms Swetnick was “not credible at all”.
Republicans deplore Trump mocking Brett Kavanaugh accuser