Politics

Senate Scrambles for Next Move With Kavanaugh Nomination in the Balance

Growing number of senators say accuser, judge should be able to have say

The Supreme Court nomination of Brett Kavanaugh hung in the balance on Monday as senators sorted out the chamber's next move in light of sexual assault allegations against the judge. (Sarah Silbiger/CQ Roll Call file photo)

A growing number of Republicans said Monday that the Senate should hear from a woman who accused Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh of a sexual attack when they were both in high school — but are searching for how and when that might happen.

 

The most important of those voices was Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Charles E. Grassley of Iowa, who said Christine Blasey Ford, a California college professor, deserves to be heard after coming forward publicly with the allegation over the weekend.

“So I will continue working on a way to hear her out in an appropriate, precedented and respectful manner,” Grassley said in a news release.

But Grassley stopped short of providing details about whether he would like her to testify before the committee under oath and in public, or some different arrangement. He also did not indicate his thoughts about delaying the committee vote set for Thursday. “We are working diligently to get to the bottom of these claims,” Grassley said.

Key senators thought to be crucial to Kavanaugh’s confirmation vote also called for Ford and Kavanaugh to testify under oath before the Judiciary Committee. Sen. Susan Collins of Maine and Democratic Sen. Joe Manchin III of West Virginia announced their views on Twitter.

“Professor Christine Blasey Ford deserves to be heard and Judge Kavanaugh deserves a chance to clear his name,” Manchin said. “Both have said they are willing to testify before the Senate Judiciary Committee and I hope they will be given the opportunity to do that as quickly as possible.”

An attorney for Ford, Debra Katz, said in an interview with CBS that her client would testify under oath about the allegations. Ford told The Washington Post that Kavanaugh, when he was a junior in high school, pinned her to a bed at a party, groped her over her clothes, attempted to pull off her one-piece bathing suit and put his hand over her mouth when she tried to scream.

“My client will do whatever is necessary to make sure that the Senate Judiciary Committee has the full story and a full set of allegations to allow them to make a full informed decision,” Katz said.

Kavanaugh issued another denial Monday and said he has never done anything like the allegation.

“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,” he said.

All 10 Democrats on the Judiciary Committee wrote a letter to Grassley on Monday calling for a delay in Thursday’s committee vote while the FBI fully investigates the allegations as part of its review of Kavanaugh’s background.

“Staff-level examination of these allegations should not go forward until the FBI’s career professionals with the requisite investigative expertise have completed their review,” the letter states. “Once the FBI has completed its independent work, we hope that we can work together in a bipartisan manner to decide on next steps.”

Also Monday, six Democrats on the Senate Judiciary Committee filed a lawsuit seeking to enforce their Freedom of Information Act request for documents on Kavanaugh’s work in the White House during the George W. Bush administration.

Sens. Richard Blumenthal of Connecticut, Patrick J. Leahy of Vermont, Sheldon Whitehouse of Rhode Island, Mazie K. Hirono of Hawaii, Cory Booker of New Jersey and Kamala Harris of California filed the suit against the National Archives and the CIA in federal district court in Washington.

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