Kavanaugh accuser comes forward as Democrats seek to block SCOTUS nomination
The accuser, Christine Blassey Ford, is “willing to do whatever it takes to get her story forth,” her attorney Debra Katz told NBC on Monday.
Ford claims that Kavanaugh forced himself on her at a high school party in the 1980s, pinning her to a bed and attempting to undress her. She said that Kavanaugh put his hand over her mouth when she screamed, and only stopped when another teenager broke up the encounter.
“I thought he might inadvertently kill me,” Ford told the Washington Post. “He was trying to attack me and remove my clothing.” Ford does not remember the date or location of the party on question, however, and says that she first spoke about it in couples’ therapy with her husband in 2012.
Kavanaugh denied the allegations outright. In a statement released through the White House, he said “I did not do this back in high school or at any time.” The teenage friend who allegedly broke up the encounter, Mark Judge, also denied the accusation, telling the Weekly Standard that it was “absolutely nuts.” Kavanaugh said on Monday that he is willing to refute Ford’s “false allegation” before the Senate Judiciary Committee if necessary.
The allegation was made public last week by Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-California), an opponent of Kavanaugh’s nomination who sits on the Judiciary Committee. Feinstein said she received a letter detailing the allegations in July, but sat on it until last Wednesday, ostensibly out of respect for Ford.
However, Feinstein is now calling for an FBI investigation before Kavanaugh is confirmed. Senators are expected to vote on Kavanaugh this Thursday, but an open investigation could stall the vote - certainly past the first Monday in October when the Supreme Court is due to meet, and perhaps even until after November’s midterm elections, when Democrats hope to retake a majority in the House and Senate.
I agree with Senator Flake that we should delay this week's vote on Brett Kavanaugh's nomination. There's a lot of information we don't know and the FBI should have the time it needs to review this new material. Staff calls aren't the appropriate way to handle this.— Sen Dianne Feinstein (@SenFeinstein) September 17, 2018
The allegations in the letter are uncorroborated, and all parties involved were minors at the time. Republicans have dismissed the letter as a late-game attempt to derail Kavanaugh’s nomination, and Judiciary Committee Chairman Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) released a letter on Friday in which 65 women who knew Kavanaugh in high school testified that the judge always “behaved honorably and treated women with respect.”
Feinstein is facing backlash for bringing the letter into play so close to the confirmation vote, and in the words of Fox News’ Tammy Bruce, using it as a “political hatchet.”
I was raped by Maxine Waters and Dianne Feinstein. So now they have to be fired. I swear it happened. It isn’t political and i wasn’t paid. I’m a victim I promise— Joe Biggs (@Rambobiggs) September 17, 2018
GOP points out Feinstein had meeting with Kavanaugh, could have had confidential meeting. 1300 questions for record were submitted to Kavanaugh, 32 hours of public testimony. Ford was never brought up; GOP obviously sees what is happening now as political. 2/6— Byron York (@ByronYork) September 17, 2018
Just a reminder that Dianne Feinstein had this letter and kept it a secret, refusing to show even Dems on the Committee, until @ryangrim reported that she had it. What did she do with it? Did she investigate or try to even talk to Christine Blasey Ford? https://t.co/FfFhronvFP— Glenn Greenwald (@ggreenwald) September 17, 2018
Katz denied that her client’s letter was politically motivated.
“No one in their right mind, regardless of their motive, would want to inject themselves into this process and face the kind of annihilation that she will be subjected to by those who want this nominee to go through,” the attorney told NBC. “This is not a politically motivated action. In fact, she was quite reluctant to come forward.”
Stalling tactic or not, Senators Jeff Flake (R-Arizona) and Bob Corker (R-Tennessee) have both called for the vote to be postponed until the allegations are investigated fully. Both are critics of President Trump and neither are up for reelection in their mostly conservative states.
Republicans hold a razor-thin 51-49 majority in the Senate. To block Kavanaugh’s confirmation, Senate Democrats will need to vote unanimously and secure the vote of at least two Republicans. If the vote comes down to a tie, Vice President Mike Pence would vote to break the deadlock.
Democrats have been bitterly opposed to Trump’s choice of Kavanaugh for the nation’s highest court. Following the retirement of Justice Anthony Kennedy, Kavanaugh’s appointment would tilt the balance of the court to the right, potentially impacting American law for decades to come.
At the White House on Monday, Trump called Kavanaugh “as high quality an individual as you’ll ever see” and said he was willing to “take a little delay” to make sure all the proper procedures have been followed.
Sen. Grassley has said that Ford's accusation “deserves to be heard” in an “appropriate” manner, but he intends to press on as planned with Kavanaugh’s confirmation vote later this week.
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