SINCERE EFFORT OR STONEWALLING?
by Sharon Rondeau
The accusation did not come to light until Kavanaugh’s confirmation hearings had been over for more than a week. Last Sunday, Ford made her identity known to The Washington Post, to whom she related the alleged assault which she said occurred when she was 15 and Kavanaugh 17.
However, the paper reported that Ford had contacted its tipline “in early July, when it had become clear that Kavanaugh was on the shortlist of possible nominees to replace retiring justice Anthony M. Kennedy but before Trump announced his name publicly.”
Ford was unable to identify the exact home, day, or time of the incident which she said occurred 36 years ago. She reportedly did not file a police report or tell her parents at the time. According to The Post’s article, notes from a therapy session Ford attended in 2012 do not mention Kavanaugh by name.
“In an interview, her husband, Russell Ford, said that in the 2012 sessions, she recounted being trapped in a room with two drunken boys, one of whom pinned her to a bed, molested her and prevented her from screaming. He said he recalled that his wife used Kavanaugh’s last name and voiced concern that Kavanaugh — then a federal judge — might one day be nominated to the Supreme Court,” The Post’s article states.
Senate Judiciary Committee ranking member Dianne Feinstein was reportedly in possession of a letter from Ford dated July 30, 2018 in which Ford requested anonymity and expressed her desire not to take additional action. On September 13, however, Feinstein made it known that she had given the letter to the FBI, and on Sunday, Ford outed herself to The Post.
The accusation has thrown into turmoil what was expected to be a committee vote on September 20 followed by a vote of the full Senate next week.
Last Monday, Katz told CNN that her client wished to tell her story publicly, after which Grassley invited her to do so, either publicly or privately.
Nothing was heard in response for nearly two days, after which Katz began requesting shifting accommodations for her client, who lives in California. Although Grassley went as far as to offer to send staff investigators to interview her there, his offer was not accepted. Katz now says her client needs until Thursday to prepare and travel to Washington, DC.
When Katz first engaged in dialogue with the committee, she said that her client would not testify until after the FBI completed an investigation of her allegations.
Last Monday, Grassley set a fifth confirmation hearing for Monday, September 24 at 10:00 AM with the intention of taking Ford’s and Kavanaugh’s testimonies separately. He then set a 10:00 AM Friday deadline for each party to advise whether or not he and she would attend. Kavanaugh gave a sworn statement Monday and confirmed on Thursday that he would testify Monday.
However, having missed the 10:00 AM Friday deadline to advise, Katz and Grassley continued their negotiations, with Grassley setting a new 5:00 PM Friday deadline for an agreement to be reached. That deadline came and went, with Grassley extending it yet again to 10:00 PM.
Just prior to that time, Katz wrote Grassley an email stating that the deadline was arbitrary and that he had not negotiated in good faith, as details of their negotiations were already in the media. Katz included the oblique statement that her client needed one more day to consider whether or not she will even testify.
After the 10:00 p.m. deadline passed without an agreement reached, there was no immediate response from Grassley, but a tweet in his timeline Saturday morning shows that he granted Katz’s request.
A sticking point remains that Ford said she cannot arrive until Thursday, but Grassley offered her Wednesday to testify.
On Friday evening, the Senate Judiciary Committee website was updated to show that Monday morning’s hearing was “postponed,” although Grassley maintained in a statement that he intends to hold a committee vote on Kavanaugh’s nomination on Monday, whether or not Ford ultimately testifies.
On Friday night, Tucker Carlson reported that according to the committee’s calendar, a Thursday vote on Kavanaugh’s nomination is not possible, and if it does not take place on Wednesday or before, it will not occur at all.
As of this writing, a “nominations” hearing appears on the Judiciary Committee’s website for Wednesday, September 26 at 10:00 a.m., but it does not say for whom.
As Ford’s accusation, and the growing number of Democrat activists reported to be advising her grows, some believe that politics is the motivating factor. Katz is a “Resist” protester and visible Democrat activist and donor. Ford has reportedly participated in at least one protest against the Trump administration based on the position she believes it takes against women.
In 1991, a former colleague and coworker of U.S. Supreme Court Associate Justice Clarence Thomas, Anita Hill, came forward at the last minute, as has Ford, claiming Thomas sexually harassed her in the workplace. Thomas vehemently denied the claims and was ultimately seated on the high court by a 52-48 vote of the Senate.
Many Democrats feel strongly that if Kavanaugh is confirmed, he will be the deciding vote in overturning the 1973 Roe v. Wade decision “legalizing” abortion in all 50 states, with some provisions made for state laws to operate. During his confirmation hearings, Kavanaugh made it clear that he believes Roe is “settled law” and that subsequently, “precedent on precedent” was set in Planned Parenthood v. Casey on the matter.
Kavanaugh’s supporters were hoping to have him seated for the October 1 opening of the Supreme Court calendar, while Democrats contend there should be a full FBI investigation of Ford’s claims before any confirmation vote takes place.
Should Democrats regain a majority in the Senate following the midterm elections, leadership on all congressional committees will change, and Kavanaugh likely will not receive a vote.
In his midnight tweet, Grassley appeared to be addressing Kavanaugh, stating that he is normally not “indecisive,” but that he “wants to hear her,” meaning Ford.
At the same time, however, he expressed frustration at what he appears to feel is his loss of control over the Judiciary Committee to Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer.
Some Committee Democrats have said they do not feel Ford should have to testify at all, while Republicans want to see a vote on Kavanaugh’s nomination take place swiftly, whether or not Ford testifies.
This story was updated at 11:11 a.m. EDT.