An attorney for Christine Blasey Ford, the clinical psychology professor who has accused Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh of attempted rape, on Wednesday slammed Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Chuck Grassley’s insistence on moving forward with plans to hold a new hearing Monday, calling it an unfair handling of the situation.
“Dr. Ford was reluctantly thrust into the public spotlight only two days ago,” Lisa Banks, the attorney, said in a statement. “She is currently unable to go home, and is receiving ongoing threats to her and her family’s safety. Fairness and respect for her situation dictate that she should have time to deal with this. She continues to believe that a full non-partisan investigation of this matter is needed and she is willing to cooperate with the Committee. However, the Committee’s stated plan to move forward with a hearing that has only two witnesses is not a fair or good faith investigation; there are multiple witnesses whose names have appeared publicly and should be included in any proceeding. The rush to a hearing is unnecessary, and contrary to the Committee discovering the truth.”
Ford initially contacted senators in July, requesting that she remain anonymous. Only after Dianne Feinstein, the committee’s ranking Democrat, released a vague statement earlier this month about her letter did Ford speak out publicly, detailing to the Washington Post how Kavanaugh allegedly pinned her down on a bed, groped her, tried to remove her clothes, and put his hand over her mouth to stifle her screams at a party when he was 17 and she was 15. Ford has since received death threats and left her home as a precaution.
After the details emerged, a committee vote scheduled for today to send Kavanauagh’s nomination to the full Senate floor for a confirmation vote was cancelled. Grassley said he would conduct follow-up phone interviews with Ford and Kavanaugh about the situation, blaming Democrats for not agreeing to those terms, but then reluctantly agreed to schedule a committee hearing on the allegation next Monday under pressure from both Democrats and some of his fellow Republican colleagues in the Senate. Now, Grassley says he won’t make Kavanaugh testify again if Ford doesn’t show up.
There was a problem with the plan from the start: Ford had not said she would be available then before the new hearing was scheduled. “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,” her attorneys wrote in a letter (embedded below) to Grassley on Tuesday. “The hearing was scheduled for six short days from today and would include interrogation by Senators who appear to have made up their minds that she is ‘mistaken’ and ‘mixed up.’ While no sexual assault survivor should be subjected to such an ordeal, Dr. Ford wants to cooperate with the Committee and with law enforcement officials.” The letter called for an FBI investigation before a new hearing on the incident.
On Wednesday, Grassley responded in a letter of his own (also embedded below), criticizing Feinstein for waiting until after the initial confirmation hearing had concluded before making Ford’s communication from July known and claiming he was following the same procedure as then-Chairman Joe Biden did after Anita Hill accused Supreme Court nominee Clarence Thomas of sexual harassment in 1991 (Hill and others have criticized Biden for his handling of the situation; Thomas was eventually confirmed to the court regardless, receiving the support of senators including Grassley). Grassley also contrasted Ford’s allegation with Hill’s, saying the FBI investigated Hill’s before her name became public.
“I understand how difficult it might be for Dr. Ford to publicly testify on this subject,” Grassley added. “I have therefore offered her many options. We’ve offered her a public hearing, a private hearing, a public staff interview, or a private staff interview. The staff is even willing to fly to California, or anywhere else, to meet her.”
Meanwhile, Grassley’s chief counsel for nominations on the Judiciary Committee, Mike Davis, took a shot at Ford’s lawyers:
I personally questioned Judge Kavanaugh under penalty of felony and 5 years of imprisonment, if he lies. I’m still waiting to hear back from the accuser’s attorneys, who can’t find time between TV appearances to get back to me. #SCOTUS
— Mike Davis (@mrddmia) September 20, 2018
Letter from Ford’s attorneys objecting to the Monday hearing: