Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-IA), chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, said in a statement Monday that the allegations of sexual misconduct against Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh “deserve to be heard” and investigated, but that Senator Dianne Feinstein’s office is refusing to cooperate in setting up follow-up calls.
“The standard procedure for updates to any nominee’s background investigation file is to conduct separate follow-up calls with relevant parties. In this case, that would entail phone calls with at least Judge Kavanaugh and Dr. Ford. Consistent with that practice, I asked Senator Feinstein’s office yesterday to join me in scheduling these follow-ups. Thus far, they have refused. But as a necessary step in evaluating these claims, I’ll continue working to set them up,” Grassley wrote.
“Unfortunately, committee Republicans have only known this person’s identity from news reports for less than 24 hours and known about her allegations for less than a week. Senator Feinstein, on the other hand, has had this information for many weeks and deprived her colleagues of the information necessary to do our jobs. The Minority withheld even the anonymous allegations for six weeks, only to later decide that they were serious enough to investigate on the eve of the committee vote, after the vetting process had been completed,” the chairman continued.
“It’s deeply disturbing that the existence of these allegations were leaked in a way that seemed to preclude Dr. Ford’s confidentiality,” he added.
The statement comes three days before the scheduled Sept. 20 vote on Kavanaugh’s nomination and a day after his accuser, Palo Alto University Professor Christine Blasey Ford, publicly came forward to accuse the federal appeals judge of sexual assault decades ago when they were both in high school.
“Over my nearly four decades in the Senate I have worked diligently to protect whistleblowers and get to the bottom of any issue. Dr. Ford’s attorney could have approached my office, while keeping her client confidential and anonymous, so that these allegations could be thoroughly investigated. Nevertheless, we are working diligently to get to the bottom of these claims,” Grassley concluded.
Kavanaugh, reportedly still in “good spirits,” strongly denied the allegations in his own statement Monday, before heading to the White House.
“Because this never happened, I had no idea who was making this accusation until she identified herself yesterday,” Kavanaugh said. “I am willing to talk to the Senate Judiciary Committee in any way the Committee deems appropriate to refute this false allegation, from 36 years ago, and defend my integrity.” He added he had “never done anything like what the accuser describes.”
It looks increasingly likely as though the Sept. 20 scheduled vote will be delayed in order to give Ford an opportunity to testify before the Judiciary Committee, and allow Kavanaugh to come back before the committee to respond to the accusations.
Grassley said say he would “hear her out in an appropriate, precedented and respectful manner.”