A day after the Senate Judiciary Committee scheduled a hearing to address a sexual-assault allegation against Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh, his confirmation process might be delayed even further.
In a letter to committee chairman Chuck Grassley (R-IA), attorneys for Kavanaugh’s accuser, Christine Blasey Ford, said a full FBI investigation into the alleged incident should be completed before a public hearing is held. That hearing was scheduled for Monday.
Such a probe would “ensure that the crucial facts and witnesses in this matter are assessed in a non-partisan manner,” the lawyers wrote, and that lawmakers are fully informed before “making any decisions.” The lawyers also said Blasey Ford should be spared an appearance “on national television to relive this traumatic and harrowing incident” before an investigation is complete.
The letter appeared to be a reversal from Monday, when Blasey Ford’s attorney Debra Katz said her client was “willing to do whatever it takes to get her story forth,” including testifying publicly.
Blasey Ford has accused Kavanaugh of pinning her down and groping her during a high school party decades ago, an allegation he has strenuously denied.
The letter to Grassley also claimed Ford has been forced to leave her home in the wake of “vicious harassment and even death threats” against her.
Earlier Tuesday, all 10 Democrats on the Judiciary Committee called for an FBI probe to be conducted before a hearing is held. (Republicans have balked at the idea of a federal investigation into the matter.) One of those Democratic lawmakers, Sen. Kamala Harris (D-CA), cheered Blasey Ford’s decision on Tuesday night.
“I support Dr. Blasey Ford’s request for an FBI background investigation before a hearing. She should not be bullied into participating in a biased process and we should not rush forward before facts are gathered,” Harris wrote on Twitter.
In a statement responding to the letter, Grassley said an FBI investigation would have no effect on what Blasey Ford would tell senators at Monday’s hearing and that the “invitation for Monday still stands.”
“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,” Grassley said.
News of the allegation broke last week after Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-CA) received a letter from Blasey Ford, who outlined the allegation but asked to remain anonymous. Feinstein referred the allegation to the Justice Department but did not ask Kavanaugh about the allegations during a closed session hearing.
The allegation was leaked to the press, and eventually Blasey Ford came forward on the record to The Washington Post to recount her story in detail. The revelation prompted lawmakers from both sides of the aisle to call for more information to be aired out before Kavanaugh’s confirmation vote.
A spokesman for the Judiciary Committee did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
—Andrew Desiderio contributed reporting