WASHINGTON, D.C. — Senate Republicans are moving forward with plans to hear testimony next Monday from Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh and a woman accusing him of sexual misconduct when they were teenagers at a party. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell accused Democrats of “blatant malpractice” by waiting weeks to disclose the letter Christine Blasey Ford had sent lawmakers describing the alleged incident.
Democratic Sen. Dianne Feinstein of California, who had the letter, said she didn’t reveal it to protect Ford’s confidentiality, yet Ford took a lie detector test back in August and Democrats on the committee kept the letter under wraps. Critics say their actions indicate a plan for an 11th-hour announcement.
“I believe that the member that first received that letter was as late as July, and quite honestly, I’m shocked that the matter didn’t come up in the nearly 32 hours of testimony that Judge Kavanaugh was before us,” said Sen. Thom Tillis (R- N.C.) Sunday on “Face the Nation.” Tillis is on the Senate Judiciary Committee.
Ford told the Washington Post that Kavanaugh forced her into a room and tried undressing her during a party when both were in high school. Kavanaugh denies those allegations. On Monday in Palo Alto, California where Ford is a professor, the group By Any Means Necessary demonstrated in support of Ford.
Lawmakers from both sides of the aisle say they want to examine the whole story in a hearing.
“If ranking member Feinstein and other committee Democrats took this claim seriously, they should have brought it to the full committee’s attention much earlier,” the committee statement reads. “Instead, they said nothing during two joint phone calls with the nominee in August, four days of lengthy public hearings, a closed session for all committee members with the nominee where sensitive topics can be discussed and in more than 1,300 written questions.”
Kavanaugh was seen arriving at the White House Monday while all 10 Democrats on the Senate Judiciary Committee wrote the panel’s Republican chairman asking him to postpone a scheduled Thursday vote on the nominee to give the FBI more time to investigate.
Democrats and some Republican senators have expressed concern over Christine Blasey Ford’s private-turned-public accusation that a drunken Kavanaugh groped her and tried to take off her clothes at a party when both were teenagers at high schools in suburban Maryland.
Kavanaugh released a new statement calling the allegation “completely false” and saying he “had no idea who was making this accusation until she identified herself” on Sunday to The Washington Post.
“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,” Kavanaugh said.
The Judiciary Democrats, in their letter to Chairman Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa), said serious questions have been raised about Kavanaugh’s “record, truthfulness and character.”
Currently a judge on the Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia, widely viewed as the nation’s second most powerful court, Kavanaugh, 53, seemed to be on a smooth confirmation track until the new allegation emerged.
White House adviser Kellyanne Conway said she had discussed the situation with Trump, and that Ford and Kavanaugh should testify, but made clear it was up to the Judiciary Committee and that the White House will “respect the process.”
“I think you have to weigh this testimonial evidence from Dr. Ford and Judge Kavanaugh along with the considerable body of evidence that is already there about the judge’s temperament and qualifications and character,” said Conway.
Ford said Kavanaugh and a friend — both “stumbling drunk,” she says — corralled her in a bedroom at a Maryland party in the early 1980s when she was around 15 and Kavanaugh was around 17. She says Kavanaugh groped her over her clothes, grinded his body against hers and tried to take off her one-piece swimsuit and the outfit she wore over it. Kavanaugh covered her mouth with his hand when she tried to scream, she says, and she escaped when the friend, Mark Judge, jumped on them.
Judge has flatly denied the incident happened and told The Weekly Standard, “It’s just absolutely nuts. I never saw Brett act that way.”
On Sunday, the Post published an interview with Ford.
“I thought he might inadvertently kill me,” said Ford, 51, a clinical psychology professor at Palo Alto University in California. “He was trying to attack me and remove my clothing.”
According to an archive of her LinkedIn profile, Ford graduated from the University of North Carolina and earned her doctorate in educational psychology at the University of Southern California.