Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) is working to arrange a meeting between a woman accusing Brett Kavanaugh of sexual assault and top-ranking members of the committee — but Democrats won’t play ball.
With Kavanaugh’s committee hearing over with, Grassley wants to set up separate follow-up calls between Christine Blasey Ford, Kavanaugh, and the ranking members of the Judiciary Committee ahead of a critical committee vote on Thursday. But Democrats are stone-walling and seeking a delay instead.
Republicans seek follow-up call with Kavanaugh accuser
A spokesman said it was normal for Grassley and Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-CA) to hold bipartisan meetings to discuss new information in a nominee’s background.
“Given the late addendum to the background file and revelations of Dr. Ford’s identity, Chairman Grassley is actively working to set up such follow-up calls with Judge Kavanaugh and Dr. Ford ahead of Thursday’s scheduled vote,” the spokesman said on Sunday. “The Chairman and Ranking Member routinely hold bipartisan staff calls with nominees when updates are made to nominees’ background files.”
Feinstein referred a letter from Ford to the FBI last week, which the agency said it would not investigate, though the agency added the letter to Kavanaugh’s background file. Meanwhile, Feinstein has rejected Grassley’s calls for a follow-up, taking a harder path by calling for a delay in the vote instead.
“There’s a lot of information we don’t know and the FBI should have the time it needs to investigate this new material,” Feinstein said. “Staff calls aren’t the appropriate way to handle this.”
Democrats, some Republicans seek delay
A spokesman for Grassley questioned the timing of the allegations on Sunday, saying that “it’s disturbing that these uncorroborated allegations from more than 35 years ago” are just coming out now. Still, Grassley said Monday that Ford “deserves to be heard,” although there is no indication that he intends to postpone the Thursday vote.
Meanwhile, Democrats and some Republicans are calling for a delay after Ford went public with her story in the Washington Post. Ranking committee member Feinstein, who revealed the allegations last week, called on the FBI to conduct an investigation and said that Senate should not confirm Kavanaugh until a probe is finished.
Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) echoed Feinstein on Sunday, saying that it was necessary to postpone the vote until the FBI has probed the accusations.
At least one Republican member out of the 1 on the Judiciary Committee, Sen. Jeff Flake (R-AZ), says he’s “not comfortable” voting until he hears from Ford. Sen. Bob Corker (R-TN), who does not sit on the committee, also said the vote should be delayed.
Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC), a committee member, said he would “gladly listen to” Ford’s story but maintained that the confirmation process should move ahead as scheduled with Thursday’s vote.
Meanwhile, pivotal Sen. Susan Collins (R-Me.) has called on Ford and Kavanaugh to testify under oath before the committee, something they have both said that they are willing to do.
Professor Ford and Judge Kavanaugh should both testify under oath before the Judiciary Committee.
— Sen. Susan Collins (@SenatorCollins) September 17, 2018
Collins has criticized Democrats for waiting to come forward with the allegations.
“What is puzzling to me is,” she said, “the Democrats, by not bringing this out earlier, after having had this information for more than six weeks, have managed to cast a cloud of doubt on both the professor and the judge.”