Senate Judiciary Committee Leaders Argue Over Next Steps in Kavanaugh Confirmation


by Sharon Rondeau

(Sep. 25, 2018) — On Tuesday evening, Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Chuck Grassley and ranking member Dianne Feinstein issued tweets as to the latest developments stemming from an accusation leveled by Dr. Christine Blasey Ford against U.S. Supreme Court nominee Brett M. Kavanaugh on September 16.

At some point on Tuesday Grassley scheduled a committee vote on Kavanaugh’s nomination to follow Ford’s expected testimony Thursday morning regarding her allegation that in 1982, Kavanaugh sexually assaulted her at a summer pool party.

Ford has not been able to produce witnesses who can corroborate her story, and she has not identified a date, exact place or other details about the alleged assault.

An “Executive Business Meeting” is now scheduled for Friday, September 28, at 10:00 a.m. which could include the vote, according to Grassley’s tweet.

Feinstein objected, calling a possible vote “outrageous” given that Ford has not yet testified.  In Grassley’s response, he said he is “still taking this 1 step at a time…if we’re ready to vote, we will vote.  If we aren’t ready, we won’t.”  He said that rules of the committee “normally require 3 days notice so we’re following regular order.”

Grassley has requested Ford’s attorneys to forward audio-visual materials, her biography and the results of a polygraph test she reportedly was administered last month by 10:00 a.m. Wednesday.  It is unclear whether or not they have complied with that request.

On Monday night, Atty. Michael Bromwich wrote to Grassley to object to the majority’s securing of a female prosecutor experienced in sex crimes to participate in the hearing, possibly by asking the questions in place of the senators.  Ford’s attorneys had said that she strongly preferred that no attorneys question her.

Bromwich also asked for the prosecutor’s biography as well as the opportunity to meet with her prior to Thursday. Tuesday’s news reports said that her identity has not been released in the interest of avoiding a media “circus” and providing for her safety.

Kavanaugh has denied Ford’s claims as well as those of a second woman, Deborah Ramirez, who told The New Yorker that Kavanaugh committed sexual misconduct while at a college party at Yale.  The New York Times reported that it was provided a lead on the story but declined to print it since it could not corroborate her claims after reaching out to potentially dozens of contemporaries at the time.

Reports on Tuesday evening said that Ramirez received an invitation to testify but declined through her attorney.  “Read The New Yorker,” was his response to counsel for the committee, according to The Washington Times.  John Clune does, however, believe the FBI should investigate.

Senate Republicans appear eager to move ahead with the confirmation process, while Democrats almost universally say they believe Ford and that an FBI investigation should be conducted before any vote is taken.  Judiciary Committee member John Cornyn (R-TX) said Tuesday evening that the entire Senate could vote as early as Tuesday following an up or down vote out of the committee.

Kavanaugh has served for 12 years on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit.

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