Kavanaugh Accuser's Lawyers to Grassley: FBI Investigation of Claims First, Then Hearing

Kavanaugh Accuser's Lawyers to Grassley: FBI Investigation of Claims First, Then Hearing
Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) walks to the Senate floor on Sept. 18, 2018. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call via AP Images)

WASHINGTON — Saying that she has been receiving death threats and had to flee her home, attorneys for the accuser of Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh said Christine Blasey Ford will work with the Senate Judiciary Committee — after the FBI has investigated her claims.

On Monday, Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) postponed Thursday’s scheduled vote on Kavanaugh’s nomination and scheduled a hearing for next Monday to hear from both Ford and Kavanaugh.

Most of today passed before Ford’s attorneys at Katz, Marshall & Banks, a D.C. law firm specializing in whistleblowers and sexual harassment claims, sent a response to Grassley.

“In the 36 hours since her name became public, Dr. Ford has received a stunning amount of support from her community and from fellow citizens across our country. At the same time, however, her worst fears have materialized. She has been the target of vicious harassment and even death threats. As a result of these kind of threats, her family was forced to relocate out of their home. Her email has been hacked, and she has been impersonated online,” wrote attorneys Debra Katz and Lisa Banks.

“While Dr. Ford’s life was being turned upside down, you and your staff scheduled a public hearing for her to testify at the same table as Judge Kavanaugh in front of two dozen U.S. Senators on national television to relive this traumatic and harrowing incident,” the letter continued. “The hearing was scheduled for six short days from today and would include interrogation by Senators who appear to have made up their minds that she is ‘mistaken’ and ‘mixed up.’ While no sexual assault survivor should be subjected to such an ordeal, Dr. Ford wants to cooperate with the Committee and with law enforcement officials.”

“As the Judiciary Committee has recognized and done before, an FBI investigation of the incident should be the first step in addressing her allegations. A full investigation by law enforcement officials will ensure that the crucial facts and witnesses in this matter are assessed in a non-partisan manner, and that the Committee is fully informed before conducting any hearing or making any decisions.”

The lawyers said they want to speak with Grassley and Ranking Member Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) “to discuss reasonable steps as to how Dr. Ford can cooperate while also taking care of her own health and security.”

Grassley said after receiving the letter that Ford should not be subjected to threats and her claims are “serious allegations and Dr. Ford deserves to be heard,” and said, “the invitation for Monday still stands.” He said that could be a public or private hearing, or an interview conducted by committee staff.

“Dr. Ford’s testimony would reflect her personal knowledge and memory of events,” the chairman added. “Nothing the FBI or any other investigator does would have any bearing on what Dr. Ford tells the committee, so there is no reason for any further delay.”

Feinstein and other Senate Dems said earlier in the day that calling Ford and Kavanaugh to a hearing wasn’t sufficient, considering the 22 witnesses who testified at the 1991 Anita Hill hearing. “What about other witnesses like Kavanaugh’s friend Mark Judge? What about individuals who were previously told about this incident? What about experts who can speak to the effects of this kind of trauma on a victim?” Feinstein said.

Feinstein tweeted in the evening, “We should honor Dr. Blasey Ford’s wishes and delay this hearing. A proper investigation must be completed, witnesses interviewed, evidence reviewed and all sides spoken to. Only then should the chairman set a hearing date.”

“The decision to come forward or not come forward has always been Christine Blasey Ford’s, and that includes her participation in a hearing,” she added. “…I hope that each and every one of us will immediately denounce the horrific treatment of Dr. Blasey Ford. That this brave woman is receiving death threats and has been forced to flee with her family is appalling and heartbreaking. This abuse must stop. We’re better than this.”

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 and his friend Mark Judge watched. Ford said she thought Kavanaugh “might inadvertently kill me” as he “was trying to attack me and remove my clothing.” She said she revealed the incident to her husband and therapist at a 2012 couple’s therapy session. A friend told the San Jose Mercury News that Ford told her about the allegations late last year.

Judge sent a letter to the Judiciary Committee today through his lawyer stating, “I have no memory of this alleged incident.”

“Brett Kavanaugh and I were friends in high school but I do not recall the party described in Dr. Ford’s letter,” Judge said. “More to the point, I never saw Brett act in the manner Dr. Ford describes.” He stressed that he did not want to testify about the allegations as he had no additional information to offer.

Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) said that Senate Republicans “should drop their inexplicable opposition to an FBI investigation, allow all the facts to come out, and then proceed with a fair process in the Senate.”

“Dr. Ford’s life has already been badly disrupted by death threats and other intimidation,” he added. “She deserves to be treated with respect and fairness by the Senate.”

Sens. Orrin Hatch (R-Utah) and Bob Corker (R-Tenn.) tweeted that if Ford doesn’t testify, the committee vote on Kavanaugh’s nomination should proceed as planned.

“The FBI does not do investigations like this. The responsibility falls to us,” Hatch said. “We should proceed as planned.”

“Republicans extended a hand in good faith,” Corker said. “If we don’t hear from both sides on Monday, let’s vote.”

Sen. Jeff Flake (R-Ariz.), who said Monday he needed to hear from the nominee’s accuser before voting for Kavanaugh, tweeted tonight, “When Dr. Ford came forward, I said that her voice should be heard and asked the Judiciary Committee to delay its vote on Judge Kavanaugh. It did so. I now implore Dr. Ford to accept the invitation for Monday, in a public or private setting. The committee should hear her voice.”