Christine Blasey Ford must attend hearing or lose opportunity, Chuck Grassley says

September 19, 2018

Republicans are ready to push ahead with a vote on Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh after becoming frustrated with his accuser who has now rebuffed the chances the GOP has offered her to tell her story.

Judiciary Committee Chairman Chuck Grassley said he’s sticking with his plan to hold a hearing Monday to give Christine Blasey Ford a chance to detail her allegation that Judge Kavanaugh, as a 17-year-old high school student, attempted to strip off her clothes and stifle her cries for help.

The judge has vehemently denied the allegations, as have others Ms. Blasey Ford says were witnesses. She, meanwhile, has backed away from her earlier calls for a public chance to tell her story, saying now that she first wants the FBI to investigate the judge, and wants to set her own timing for a hearing.

Mr. Grassley rejected that, telling Democrats and Ms. Blasey Ford’s lawyer to either use Monday’s chance, or else lose the opportunity.

“It would be a disservice to Dr. Ford, Judge Kavanaugh, this committee, and the American people to delay this hearing any further,” the Iowa Republican said in a letter to committee Democrats.

His fellow Republicans are increasingly miffed at Ms. Blasey Ford’s actions.

She first complained in a July letter about the judge but demanded anonymity though she hired a lawyer and arranged to take a lie detector test in August. Democrats did not take official action but apparently did leak her allegation to the press, and she then went public and asked for the chance to tell her story.

But this week she has rebuffed Judiciary Committee efforts to schedule a call with investigators and has rejected offers for an open or closed hearing or to have investigators meet her in person in California.

Moderate Republican senators who had said earlier this week that they wanted to hear from Ms. Blasey Ford before proceeding on voting to confirm Judge Kavanaugh now have changed course.

Sen. Bob Corker, Tennessee Republican, said Mr. Grassley has properly handled the matter and has been fair to both the judge and his accuser. He said if Ms. Blasey Ford doesn’t show up to testify, then the Senate should move on with the nomination.

“Let’s vote,” he said.

Likewise, Sen. Jeff Flake, an Arizona Republican, told CNN Tuesday night that the Senate will soon have to move ahead with a vote.

And Sen. Susan Collins, Maine Republican, told WVOM radio that Ms. Blasey Ford has been given plenty of good options and should choose one of them.

“I just don’t understand why the hearing shouldn’t go forward,” Ms. Collins said, adding her preference would be a public committee hearing, rather than a closed-door session.

Several senators indicated that should Ms. Blasey Ford decline to appear, there won’t be a hearing and the Judiciary Committee would move forward without testimony.

Sen. Lindsey Graham, a South Carolina Republican who sits on the committee, said Wednesday that a vote should come “ASAP,” rejecting Ms. Blasey Ford’s attempt to name her own preconditions for testifying.

“Requiring an FBI investigation of a 36-year-old allegation (without specific references to time or location) before Professor Ford will appear before the Judiciary Committee is not about finding the truth, but delaying the process till after the midterm elections,” he said on Twitter.

Democrats say Republicans are rushing to a conclusion, and say the details Ms. Blasey Ford alleges deserve more than a hearing set up to be a he-said-she-said affair. Committee Democrats have said they want other witnesses called to testify in what would be a full probe of the decades-old claim.

Ms. Blasey Ford has echoed those calls and also said she does want the FBI to step in.

Republicans accused Ms. Blasey Ford and Democrats of moving the goalposts as they continue to search for ways to derail Judge Kavanaugh’s path to the high court.

President Trump said Sen. Dianne Feinstein, the ranking Democrat on the Judiciary Committee, created the mess by receiving Ms. Blasey Ford’s letter containing the allegations in July, yet not acting on them until last week.

And Mr. Grassley called on her Wednesday to hand over the letter to Republicans on the committee, saying all they have currently is the FBI’s redacted letter which was placed in Judge Kavanaugh’s file.

Ms. Feinstein, though, defended her actions on Twitter Wednesday, saying she respected Ms. Blasey Ford’s request for confidentiality until the “media outed her.” She also argued an FBI probe would be appropriate.

“The FBI routinely investigates allegations like Dr. Ford’s. They did it with Anita Hill’s allegations 27 years ago and they did it this year with allegations against Rob Porter. The FBI needs to investigate and the Senate needs to wait until that’s done,” she tweeted.

A recent poll found support for Judge Kavanaugh’s confirmation dropped since his hearing earlier this month and the allegations of sexual assault.

A Reuters/Ipsos poll surveying more than 2,000 adults from Sept. 11 to 17 found more women are opposing the nominee since a prior poll taken month earlier. Thirty-three percent of women oppose Judge Kavanaugh, while only 31 percent of the adults said they supported his nomination.

Update hourly