Report: Trump Unhappy with Grassley’s Handling of Kavanaugh Hearings

Meanwhile, other critics are questioning if the Iowa senator knew about a second allegation of sexual assault last week as he pushed for a Monday hearing on the first one

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President Trump has lost patience with the “molasses-like” pace of the Senate’s confirmation process for Brett Kavanaugh and believes Chuck Grassley has been too easily swayed by Democrats and Christine Blasey Ford, the woman who alleged Kavanaugh sexually assaulted her, according to a report published Monday night at the Washington Post.

Last week, Grassley — who heads the Senate Judiciary Committee — initially balked at calls to hold another hearing for Kavanaugh and Ford, after the Palo Alto University professor went public with her claim that the Supreme Court nominee attempted to rape her during a party when he was 17 and she was 15. Grassley later agreed to schedule a hearing for Monday, a date preferred by Trump, before ultimately moving it back to Thursday under pressure from Ford’s lawyers and others.

Trump, who himself has been accused of sexual misconduct by more than a dozen women, said last Friday that he doesn’t think Ford’s story is credible, tweeting that if it had been, “charges would have immediately been filed.” (In fact, the majority of sexual assaults are never reported to police.) The Post, citing associates of the president, reported that the allegations from his past have made him “sensitive to the fear that a powerful man’s career could be ruined by a single accusation.” On Monday, Trump reportedly called Kavanaugh to say he continued to support him and wish him luck on a Fox News interview the same day, during which Kavanaugh denied the allegations against him by contending he was a virgin in high school and for “many years after.”

Now, there are more allegations against Kavanaugh, and a detail in the opening paragraph of an article published Sunday in The New Yorker about one of them has led other critics of Grassley to take a position opposite to Trump’s, questioning whether the Iowa senator knew about it last week while he was pushing to hold a new hearing Monday.

The article focuses on Deborah Ramirez, a Yale classmate of Kavanaugh’s who says he exposed himself at a dorm room party involving heavy drinking, sticking his penis in her face as another student told her to kiss it, then laughing as he zipped up his pants. “The offices of at least four Democratic senators have received information about the allegation, and at least two have begun investigating it,” reported Ronan Farrow and Jane Mayer — a winner of and two-time finalist for the Pulitzer Prize, respectively.

“Senior Republican staffers also learned of the allegation last week and, in conversations with The New Yorker, expressed concern about its potential impact on Kavanaugh’s nomination. Soon after, Senate Republicans issued renewed calls to accelerate the timing of a committee vote.”

Farrow and Mayer did not name any of the Republican staffers they spoke to, and on Sunday night, Grassley released a statement disputing the detail. “The committee’s majority staff learned the allegations made by Deborah Ramirez about Judge Kavanaugh from this evening’s New Yorker report,” he claimed.

Either way, the Post reported, “In private talks, Trump has singled out both McConnell and Grassley for criticism, complaining that they are not forceful enough in speeding up the process and have been too deferential to Ford’s lawyers, according to two people familiar with Trump’s concerns.”

It’s a marked departure from earlier this month, after Kavanaugh’s main confirmation hearing had concluded and before news broke of the alleged sexual assaults, when Grassley praised himself and Trump for an “outstanding” nominee and successful process.

Gavin Aronsen
Gavin Aronsen is an editor and reporter for and founding member of the Iowa Informer. He previously worked as a city reporter for the Ames Tribune, research assistant to investigative journalist Wayne Barrett at the Village Voice, and in various roles at Mother Jones, where his work contributed to a National Magazine Award nomination for the magazine's digital media coverage of the Occupy Wall Street movement. Email: garonsen [at] iowainformer [dot] com.