Democrats who demanded an open hearing to air allegations of an attempted sexual assault by Judge Brett Kavanaugh objected Tuesday to the parameters, saying they want a full slate of witnesses to testify.
Judiciary Committee Chairman Charles E. Grassley, Iowa Republican, has said he plans to have Judge Kavanaugh and accuser Christine Blasey Ford as the only two people called to testify.
But Democrats on the panel said the entire process has been stacked against Ms. Blasey Ford. In a letter, they said the committee set Monday’s hearing without checking to see if the woman is available, have declined to have the FBI probe the matter beforehand and are shutting out other witnesses in limiting the affair to just the two principals.
“While the committee unquestionably needs to hear from both, there are other relevant witnesses who should be questioned under oath, in a public setting,” the Democrats said in their letter. “This includes Mark Judge, who Dr. Blasey Ford identified, and others that might be identified through the FBI’s investigation or subsequent due diligence by the committee itself.”
Democrats said the hearing should be more like the 1991 affair involving confirmation of Justice Clarence Thomas, when more than 20 people testified about allegations he engaged in sexual harassment of former colleague Anita Hill.
“This is another attempt by Republicans to rush this nomination and not fully vet Judge Kavanaugh,” said Sen. Dianne Feinstein, the top Democrat on the committee.
Ms. Ford has accused Judge Kavanaugh of forcing himself on her at a party when the two were in high school roughly 35 years ago.
He has vehemently denied the accusation, and a senator who spoke with him on Monday said he doesn’t even recall being at such a party.
Judiciary Committee staffers conducted a phone interview with Judge Kavanaugh Monday, which they said was normal procedure when information like this comes in so late in the process. But Democratic staff declined to be part of the call, a committee spokesman said.
Ms. Ford was invited to participate in a similar call, but her lawyer has not yet responded to the committee’s request.
Mr. Grassley also said staffers attempted to reach Ms. Blasey Ford several times over the past few days, but haven’t heard back from her about whether she will accept the invitation to testify.