Christine Blasey Ford, the university professor who has accused Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh of sexual assault, says the FBI should investigate her claims before senators hold a hearing on the allegations.
In a letter on Tuesday, addressed to the Senate Judiciary Chairman Chuck Grassley and shared with members of the panel, Ford’s attorneys argue that “a full investigation by law enforcement officials will ensure that the crucial facts and witnesses in this matter are assessed in a non-partisan manner, and that the Committee is fully informed before conducting any hearing or making any decisions.”
The letter also notes that Ford has been forced to leave her home after becoming “the target of vicious harassment and even death threats.”
“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 U.S. Senators on national television to relive this traumatic and harrowing incident,” it goes on, arguing that no sexual assault survivor should be subjected to the ordeal of “interrogation by Senators who appear to have made up their minds that she is ‘mistaken’ and ‘mixed up,’” just six short days after Ford having come forward.
Democrats are concerned by Ford’s not being consulted about the hearing date, and would prefer to see additional witnesses included, to avoid what they said would turn into a “he said-she said” moment, The Associated Press reports. Grassley said in a statement Tuesday night that there were never any plans to sit Ford and Kavanaugh together at the witness table. Democrats would also like to hear from Kavanaugh’s high school friend Mark Judge, who Ford said was in the room when she was assaulted.
Ford’s allegations date to the 1980s, and came to light after she shared them in a July letter to Senator Dianne Feinstein of California, the senior Democrat on the Senate Judiciary Committee. Ford claims that she was heading to the bathroom when a “highly inebriated” Kavanaugh grabbed her and pulled her into a bedroom at a house party, when the pair were both teenagers. Another intoxicated boy, whose name was redacted in the letter, was also present, Ford claims. In her interview with the Post, Ford said that the other boy was Kavanaugh’s classmate, Mark Judge, who is now a filmmaker and author. Judge on Tuesday issued a statement through a lawyer that was obtained by The Washington Post. In it he said, “I have no memory of this alleged incident,” and “I do not wish to speak publicly regarding the incidents described in Dr. Ford’s letter.”
Ford’s friend and confidant, Jim Gensheimer, told The Mercury News that Ford is understandably apprehensive about the grilling she will receive about the alleged assault. “I’ve been trying to forget this all my life, and now I’m supposed to remember every little detail,” he recalls her telling him over the summer when the two discussed the matter. “They’re going to be all over me.”
The letter confirms that Ford is willing to cooperate with the committee, “while also taking care of her own health and security.”
Ford’s attorney Lisa Banks appeared Tuesday night on CNN’s Anderson Cooper 360, telling Cooper “[Ford] will talk with the committee. She is not prepared to talk with them at a hearing on Monday. This just came out 48 hours ago.”
“Asking her to come forward in four or five days and sit before the Judiciary Committee on national TV is not a fair process. If they care about doing the right thing here and treating this seriously as they have said, then they will do the right thing and they will properly investigate this, and she will work with them in that investigation and also to share her story with the committee,” Banks said.
The committee under Grassley looks unlikely to budge on its timetable, however.
“Dr. Ford’s testimony would reflect her personal knowledge and memory of events,” he said. “Nothing the FBI or any other investigator does would have any bearing on what Dr. Ford tells the committee, so there is no reason for any further delay.”
Ford had been offered “the opportunity to share her story” in a public or a private hearing, or staff interviews, “whichever makes her most comfortable,” he said. “The invitation for Monday still stands.”
Ford, who only came forward on Sunday, told The Washington Post that she did so reluctantly, hoping to take control of a story that was widely reported in the media without her consent. The letter to Grassley noted that, in addition to the threats and personal attacks she had endured, “in the 36 hours since her name became public, Dr. Ford has received a stunning amount of support from her community and from fellow citizens across our country.”
Any review would likely force the confirmation vote to fall after the major congressional elections in November, while Republicans are hoping Kavanaugh can be confirmed by the start of the next Supreme Court term, on October 1.