The question is whether Senate Republicans will agree to Ford’s request.
Christine Blasey Ford, who accused Trump Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh of sexually assaulting her when the two were teenagers, wants the FBI to investigate the alleged incident before she testifies in front of the Senate.
Ford’s lawyers, in a letter to the Senate Judiciary Committee, said their client’s life had been upended by going public with her allegations against Kavanaugh, and that an FBI investigation should be the first step. The FBI typically conducts background checks for federal court nominees.
As her lawyers noted in their letter, Ford did not intend to go public with her allegations against Kavanaugh until her story was leaked. (Kavanaugh has denied the allegations.) Only then did she decide to conduct an interview with the Washington Post. Her lawyers noted she has received death threats and she and her family have had to move out of their home as a result.
“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 US Senators on national television to relive this traumatic and harrowing incident,” the letter states (a spokesman for the Judiciary Committee has denied that Kavanaugh and Ford would have sat at the same table, according to the Washington Post’s Seung Min Kim).
“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,” the letter continued. “As the Judiciary Committee has recognized and done before, an FBI investigation of the incident should be the first step in addressing the allegations.”
Senate Republicans had scheduled a public Senate Judiciary Committee hearing Monday to hear from both Ford and Kavanaugh. Ford’s lawyers had said she would be willing to appear in front of the committee, but Republicans scheduled the hearing for Monday without asking Ford first.
The big question now is whether Senate Republicans will acquiesce to Ford’s wishes, or proceed with an imminent committee vote on whether to recommend Kavanaugh to the full Senate.
“Dr. Ford has talked to the Washington Post, indicated she wants to talk to the committee, and we’re going to give her that opportunity on Monday,” Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell told reporters in a Tuesday afternoon news conference. “There have been multiple investigations — Judge Kavanaugh has been through six FBI investigations over the course of his lengthy public career. We want to give the accuser an opportunity to be heard, and that opportunity will occur next Monday.”
Now that Ford has signaled she does not want to address the Senate until an FBI investigation, it is unclear whether McConnell or the top Republican on Senate Judiciary — Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-IA) will agree or forge ahead with a vote.
Ford’s ask for an FBI investigation matches the wishes of Senate Democrats, who blasted Republicans for rushing to have the hearing and only calling two witnesses — the accuser and the accused.
This would have the effect of creating a “he said/she said” situation, Democrats argued. They noted that during Anita Hill’s 1991 testimony against then Supreme Court nominee Clarence Thomas, there were 22 witnesses that testified.
“As a former United States Attorney and attorney general of my state…there’s no way any prosecutor would put on a witness stand a crime victim without doing a full investigation,” said Sen. Richard Blumenthal (D-CT), a member of the Judiciary Committee. “It would be a disservice to the survivor, to fairness and justice. That’s what Republicans are doing here.”
Some Republican senators sounded ambivalent at the prospect of calling other witnesses in the Kavanaugh matter.
“As far as what the committee decides, as far as who else ought to be heard, that’s their decision,” Sen. Bob Corker (R-TN) told Vox’s Tara Golshan. “I just felt that it was important that if she had these types of serious allegations that she ought to have the opportunity to be heard. And I hope she is going to take advantage of that. If she doesn’t — that’s a whole other thing.”
Another high-ranking Republican, Senate Majority Whip John Cornyn of Texas, appeared to question Ford’s versions of events in remarks he made to reporters on Tuesday afternoon.
“We don’t known what happened 36 years ago, and there are gaps in her memory,” Cornyn told reporters. “She doesn’t know how she got there, when it was, and so that would logically be something where she would get questioned.”
You can read the full letter from Ford’s lawyers below.
Author: Ella Nilsen