The woman who accuses Judge Brett Kavanaugh of sexual assault 35 years ago has told the Senate Judiciary Committee that the FBI should investigate her claims before she testifies about them, a request that panel Republicans promptly rejected.
In a letter Tuesday to Sen. Charles Grassley, Iowa Republican and panel chairman, Christine Blasey Ford says only an FBI probe can “ensure that the crucial facts and witnesses in this matter are assessed in a non-partisan manner.”
The letter, signed by attorneys Debra Katz and Lisa Banks, was first reported by CNN and posted publicly by NBC News.
The letter from Ms. Ford’s lawyers also claims that a probe, which the FBI said Tuesday it would not do and which could not be completed before the hearing’s scheduled Monday date, would ensure that “the Committee is fully informed before conducting any hearing or making any decisions.”
But in the note, the attorneys accused some panel members of having prejudged the matter and called the conditions the panel sought something “no sexual assault survivor should be subjected to,” though the attorneys didn’t emphatically say their client would refuse to testify.
“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. 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’ or ‘mixed up,’” the lawyers wrote.
The letter also says that Ms. Ford has “been the target of vicious harassment and even death threats” and had to leave her California home.
“We would welcome the opportunity to talk with you and Ranking Member Feinstein to discuss reasonable steps as to how Dr. Ford can cooperate while also taking care of her own health and security,” the letter said.
According to Mr. Grassley and Judiciary Committee staff, Ms. Ford had not previously responded to the panel’s invitation to testify Monday.
In a statement Tuesday night, Mr. Grassley rejected that request, saying that an FBI probe isn’t necessary.
“Dr. Ford’s testimony would reflect her personal knowledge and memory of events. Nothing the FBI or any other investigator does would have any bearing on what Dr. Ford tells the committee, so there is no reason for any further delay,” he said.
Things also quickly got nasty on social media Tuesday night.
Garrett Ventry, a spokesman for Judiciary Committee Republicans, retweeted a shocked Atlantic journalist repeating the “at the same table” charge and wrote “To be clear: this is absolutely false.”
Sen. Orrin Hatch, Utah Republican and a Judiciary member, took to Twitter to say the panel had already bent over backwards to accommodate TV-made demands from Ms. Ford’s attorneys.
“The FBI does not do investigations like this. The responsibility falls to us. Chairman @ChuckGrassley has moved our committee vote to accommodate Dr. Ford’s lawyer’s offer on TV yesterday to have her client testify before the Judiciary Committee. We should proceed as planned,” he wrote on Twitter.
Both Mr. Ventry and Mr. Hatch retweeted a post accusing Ms. Ford’s lawyers of speaking differently Monday about appearing before the panel.
“Same attorney yesterday on the @TODAYshow: Savannah: ‘Ms. Katz is your client willing to testify before the Judiciary Committee publicly and tell this story?’ Debra Katz: ‘She is. She’s willing to do whatever it takes to get her story forth, yes,’” wrote user “Stew Says.”
Judge Kavanaugh denies the claims by Ms. Ford that he and another high-school student, sometime in the early 1980s at a teen drinking party, climbed onto Ms. Ford, tried to remove her bathing suit, and covered her mouth to prevent any protest from being heard.
Ms. Ford said she was able to flee the room and eventually the house but never told anybody about it, not even her girlfriends at the time, until a couple’s therapy session with her husband in 2012.