Democratic senators on Sunday called for the Senate Judiciary Committee to delay its planned vote on Brett Kavanaugh’s nomination for the Supreme Court after a woman who accused him of sexual misconduct revealed her identity.
The woman who went public, Christine Blasey Ford, previously described the alleged incident in a letter to Democratic Sen. Dianne Feinstein, the ranking member of the committee. Feinstein said she referred the matter to the FBI and that the woman had requested confidentiality.
The California senator said in a statement after Ford went public that she backs her decision to tell about the alleged incident and hopes “the attacks and shaming of her will stop and this will be treated with the seriousness it deserves.” She also said she wants the FBI to investigate the matter before the Senate advances Kavanaugh’s nomination.
“I support Mrs. Ford’s decision to share her story, and now that she has, it is in the hands of the FBI to conduct an investigation,” Feinstein’s statement said. “This should happen before the Senate moves forward on this nominee.”
In an article published Sunday, Ford spoke with The Washington Post and said at a party in the early 1980s, when both she and Kavanaugh were high school students, Kavanaugh pushed her into a room with his friend, tried to remove her clothes and put his hand over her mouth to silence her when she yelled, Kavanaugh, in a statement, has denied the allegation, and the White House reiterated Kavanaugh’s denial on Sunday.
The Post said Ford originally contacted her representative in the House, California Democratic Rep. Anna Eshoo, whose office sent her letter to Feinstein. Eshoo said in a statement that she was “proud” of her constituent.
“In weighing her privacy and the consequences to herself and her family, she has demonstrated her willingness to risk these factors to present the truth,” Eshoo said.
Iowa Republican Sen. Chuck Grassley, the Senate Judiciary Committee chairman, called the timing of the revelations “disturbing” in a statement, and a Republican source told CNN the committee’s vote on Kavanaugh was still scheduled to take place Thursday afternoon.
A spokesman for Grassley told CNN that the chairman and Feinstein routinely hold bipartisan staff calls with nominees when updates are made to their background files.
“Given the late addendum to the background file and revelations of Dr. Ford’s identity, Chairman Grassley is actively working to set up such follow-up calls with Judge Kavanaugh and Dr. Ford ahead of Thursday’s scheduled vote,” the spokesman, Taylor Foy, said.
Republican Sen. Lindsey Graham, of South Carolina, echoed Grassley’s concerns and floated the possibility of hearing testimony from Ford in the coming days.
“If the committee is to hear from Ms. Ford, it should be done immediately so the process can continue as scheduled,” Graham, a committee member, said in a statement.
Several Democrats joined Feinstein in calling for more scrutiny of the allegation before a vote.
Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer said in a statement that Grassley “must postpone the vote until, at a very minimum, these serious and credible allegations are thoroughly investigated.”
“For too long, when woman (sic) have made serious allegations of abuse, they have been ignored,” the New York Democrat said. “That cannot happen in this case.”
Hawaii Democratic Sen. Mazie Hirono and Connecticut Democratic Sen. Richard Blumenthal, both members of the committee, likewise demanded a delay on the confirmation vote until further investigation. Their fellow committee member Rhode Island Democratic Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse called for “a pause, at a minimum,” on Kavanaugh’s nomination and time for the FBI “to take proper witness statements.”
“Lying to an FBI agent in a formal interview is a crime, and an impeachable offense,” Whitehouse said in the statement.