Sexual Assault Victims Advocate Joni Ernst Supports Kavanaugh, Tells Him to “Stay Strong”

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Joni Ernst, a self-proclaimed advocate for victims of sexual assault in the US military who has an entire page of her official Senate website devoted to the issue, expressed her sympathies for Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh in an interview Friday on Fox News.

Asked what she would tell Kavanaugh about the nomination process, Ernst replied: “I would say to him, stay strong, I would say, continue on with the push forward and I would also say, ‘God keep you and bless you,’ because I do know how painful this process can be. I’m sure he is hurting in the very pit of his stomach for the scrutiny his family has gone through, not just his wife but his beautiful daughters as well.” (Christine Blasey Ford, the California psychology professor who accused Kavanaugh of attempting to rape her in high school, has said she was terrified of going public with her story and moved out of her home with her two teenaged children after receiving death threats for doing so.)

“He has truly been put through the ringer this last week, and I feel for the family and many others that are considering public service, whether it’s through a nomination or elected office,” Ernst went on. “They have to be questioning themselves right now, saying, ‘Do I want to go through this? Do I want to have accusations, whether they are true or false, and be tried in the media? So it’s a very unfortunate situation. We encourage people to serve their country and I hope that Judge Kavanaugh will continue to do that, but I know it’s very difficult right now.”

Ernst expressed no sympathy for Ford, aside from asking why Democrats disrespected her by not passing her letter along to committee Chairman Chuck Grassley in July when Dianne Feinstein received it. (Feinstein received the letter in confidence and said she was trying to respect Ford’s wishes for privacy, but news of the letter eventually leaked to the press after the initial hearing for Kavanaugh concluded.)

She said that she was comfortable with the short length of a 10-day FBI investigation the committee agreed to Friday before a final vote to confirm Kavanaugh. “And let me tell you what I’m uncomfortable with,” she added, “and that is the notion that Senate Democrats and Dianne Feinstein and her staff had this information in July and did not direct it to Chairman Grassley so it could be investigated in a timely manner, so my question to my colleagues is … why on earth did they not call for an investigation when they received the information?”

Ernst said she believed that the Senate Judiciary Committee’s investigation into the allegations against Kavanaugh — which Grassley aide Mike Davis helped obstruct — had been “much more in-depth and thorough” than what the FBI’s will be.

“I think Chuck Grassley has done a phenomenal job moving through this process,” Ernst said. She added, “I do hope that we can move through this process as soon as we can.”

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.