WASHINGTON — Thursday’s planned vote on the Supreme Court nomination of Brett Kavanaugh has been postponed as the Judiciary Committee plans to hear testimony Monday on sexual assault allegations.
Kavanaugh and his accuser, Palo Alto University professor Christine Blasey Ford, will testify separately in open session.
Ford alleges that a drunk Kavanaugh, then 17, pinned her on a bed when she was 15 and tried to remove her clothes while covering her mouth with his hand. She told the Washington Post in an article published Sunday that she thought Kavanaugh “might inadvertently kill me” as he “was trying to attack me and remove my clothing.” Ford revealed the incident to her husband and therapist at a 2012 couple’s therapy session and subsequently took a polygraph examination.
“As I said earlier, anyone who comes forward as Dr. Ford has done deserves to be heard,” Chairman Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) said in a statement announcing the hearing. “My staff has reached out to Dr. Ford to hear her account, and they held a follow-up call with Judge Kavanaugh this afternoon.”
“Unfortunately, committee Democrats have refused to join us in this effort,” Grassley added. “However, to provide ample transparency, we will hold a public hearing Monday to give these recent allegations a full airing.”
All 10 Democrats on the Judiciary Committee issued a statement declaring they did not participate in the calls because “in view of the enormity and seriousness of these allegations, a staff-only phone call behind closed doors is unacceptable.”
“We call on the FBI to reopen it and properly investigate this new, important information,” the Dems said in the joint statement. “Once we’ve received an updated background investigation file, the Senate Judiciary Committee should have the opportunity to review the file, seek additional information and conduct hearings as necessary to fully investigate these allegations and vet this candidate.”
Before Monday’s hearing was announced, President Trump told reporters at the White House that he’s open to a review of Ford’s allegations and praised Kavanaugh as “one of the finest people that I’ve ever known.”
“It depends on the process. I’d like to see a complete process. I’d like everybody to be very happy. Most importantly, I want the American people to be happy, because they’re getting somebody that is great. I want him to go in at the absolute highest level. And I think to do that, you have to go through this,” Trump said. “If it takes a little delay, it’ll take a little delay. It shouldn’t, certainly, be very much.”
“But again, this is something that should have been brought up long before this. They had the information in July, as I understand it. That’s a long time ago. And nobody mentioned it until the other day. It’s very — you know, it’s very unfortunate they didn’t mention it sooner.”
Ford first contacted her congresswoman, Rep. Anna Eshoo (D-Calif.), to speak about her allegations and subsequently gave Eshoo a letter to give to Judiciary Committee Ranking Member Dianne Feinstein’s (D-Calif.) office. Feinstein said the letter was concealed from other lawmakers because Ford requested anonymity.
Asked if Kavanaugh had offered to withdraw his nomination, Trump replied, “Next question. What a ridiculous question that is.”
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) said on the Senate floor today that Feinstein didn’t raise the issue with Kavanaugh in her private meeting with the nominee and senators “did not raise it, even with the name redacted, in four days of exhaustive public hearings while Judge Kavanaugh testified under oath — even though they chose to raise myriad other matters at the hearing, including through sometimes bizarre innuendo.”
“They did not raise it in the closed session, the proper forum where such an allegation could been addressed with discretion and sensitivity. They did not raise it in the thousand-plus follow-up questions that Senators sent to Judge Kavanaugh in writing,” McConnell said. “But now, at the eleventh hour, with committee votes on the schedule, after Democrats have spent weeks and weeks searching for any possible reason that the nomination should be delayed.”
Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) called the allegations “extremely credible” and said they needed to “be treated with the utmost gravity.”
“They were made by someone who voluntarily submitted to a lie detector test, and had been discussed in the past, long before Judge Kavanaugh’s nomination to the Supreme Court, with a family therapist. I believe her. Many, many, many Americans believe her. Many, many women in America who have been taken advantage of certainly believe her,” Schumer said. “For too long, women have made serious allegations of abuse and have been ignored or dragged through the mud. It would be a disgrace if this body and our fellow Republicans let that happen.”