By Steve Holland
LAS VEGAS (Reuters) - U.S. President Donald Trump gave a full-throated endorsement to his embattled Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh on Thursday and tip-toed carefully around the sexual assault accusations that are facing him.
At a rally in Las Vegas, Trump appeared with Republican U.S. Senator Dean Heller of Nevada and offered strong support for him in his tough re-election battle against Democrat Jackie Rosen in November congressional elections.
But perhaps more significantly were his words of praise for Kavanaugh, who is battling accusations from a California psychology professor that he assaulted her 36 years ago when both were high school students in the Washington DC area.
The accusations from Christine Blasey Ford, denied vehemently by Kavanaugh, threaten to slow his Senate confirmation vote, with Democrats saying the FBI should investigate the charges, a demand that is not gaining traction among Republicans.
"Brett Kavanaugh, and I'm not saying anything about anybody else, Brett Kavanaugh is one of the finest human beings you will ever have the privilege of knowing or meeting," Trump said.
Trump, steering clear of criticizing Ford on the advice of aides, predicted Kavanaugh will ultimately be confirmed.
"So we'll let it play out, and I think everything is going to be just fine. This is a high quality person," he said.
The crowd at the Las Vegas Convention Center roared its approval.
Speaking to Fox News anchor Sean Hannity prior to the rally, Trump addressed the Democrats' demand for an FBI probe into the Kavanaugh accusations, questioning why the FBI was not notified "36 years ago" when the incident allegedly occurred.
Las Vegas was the first stop on a week-long trip away from Washington for the president. He will headline at political events in Springfield, Missouri, on Friday, spend the weekend at his Bedminster, New Jersey, golf club, then go to New York for the U.N. General Assembly.
With Republicans fearful that Democrats could wrest control of the U.S. House of Representatives and even the Senate from them in November elections, Trump urged his supporters to get out and vote for the party's candidates, saying the economic measures he has put in place could be hanging in the balance.
(Reporting By Steve Holland; Editing by Michael Perry)