Senate Democrats say the FBI should look into the sexual-assault allegation against Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh as his accuser wants. Republicans say that’s unnecessary because the Senate is conducting its own investigation. (Sept. 19)
WASHINGTON – Christine Blasey Ford, the woman who has accused Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh of sexual misconduct, has until Friday morning to decide whether or not she will testify before senators about her allegations.
Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Chuck Grassley sent Ford’s attorneys a letter on Wednesday, advising that if Ford plans to discuss her allegations with lawmakers, she must give a copy of her prepared testimony and a biography to the committee by 10 a.m. EDT on Friday. He cited “committee rules” as the reason for the deadline.
Ford came forward publicly in The Washington Post Sunday with an allegation that Kavanaugh held her down and tried to take off her clothes at a party when they were both in high school. Her attorney, Debra Katz, said Ford believes it was an “attempted rape.”
Kavanaugh has vehemently denied the allegation.
“You have stated repeatedly that Dr. Ford wants to tell her story,” Grassley said in the letter. “I sincerely hope that Dr. Ford will accept my invitation to do so, either privately or publicly, on Monday.”
The Iowa Republican said Ford’s claim was added to the nominee’s file and that “standard procedure for supplemented background investigations” was to interview the relevant parties by phone. But the senator said repeated attempts to contact Ford and her lawyers by phone and email had gone unanswered.
Although Ford’s team has requested an FBI investigation as a “first step,” Grassley said that was not the FBI’s job and that the committee did not have the power to order the bureau to do anything.
“I certainly understand and respect Dr. Ford’s desire for an investigation of her allegations,” he wrote. “That is precisely what the Senate is doing. That is why our investigators have asked to speak with your client. That is why I have invited Dr. Ford to tell her story to the Senate and, if she so chooses, to the American people. It is not the FBI’s role to investigate a matter such as this.”
In urging Ford to testify, Grassley said he “reopened the hearing because I believe that anyone who comes forward with allegations of sexual assault has a right to be heard.”
“By hearing out both Dr. Ford and Judge Kavanaugh, the Committee will endeavor to discover the truth of the matter, and will be better able to make an informed judgment about Judge Kavanaugh’s nomination,” he wrote.
On Wednesday, Grassley said he didn’t doubt that Ford “believes what she says.”
“In fact, I have a responsibility to give deference to that, at least until I hear it, and to make a determination afterwards if it is possible to make a determination,” Grassley told reporters in Iowa.
He said both Ford and Kavanaugh need to be heard.
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