Woman Accusing Judge Kavanaugh of Sexual Assault Wants FBI Probe

Lawyers for the woman who is accusing U.S. Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh of sexual assault more than 30 years ago says she wants the FBI to investigate her allegation before she testifies publicly.

Kavanaugh denies the charge and will apparently tell his side of the story before the Senate Judiciary Committee next Monday. 

His accuser, Christine Blasey Ford, has also been invited to testify. 

But Ford’s lawyers said in a letter Tuesday to Committee Chairman Chuck Grassley that some of the senators on the committee “appear to have made up their minds” and believe Kavanaugh.

The lawyers also said Ford has become the subject of death threats and harassment, and expressed fears that the committee planned to have her “relive this traumatic and harrowing incident” while testifying at the same table as Kavanaugh and in front of national television cameras.

“Nobody should be subject to threats and intimidation, and Dr. Ford is no exception,” Grassley said in a statement later Tuesday.

The Republican senator said there were no plans to have Ford and Kavanaugh appear at the same time, and that the committee had offered her the opportunity to appear before a private hearing.

He further rejected calls for an FBI investigation, saying the Senate has the information it needs to handle the matter on its own.

“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.

Senator Dianne Feinstein, the top Democrat on the Judiciary Committee, said Republicans are not taking Ford’s allegations seriously and are rushing into a “completely unfair” hearing.

“We should honor Dr. Blasey Ford’s wishes and delay this hearing. A proper investigation must be completed, witnesses interviewed, evidence reviewed and all sides spoken to. Only then should the chairman set a hearing date,” Feinstein said.

President Donald Trump gave Kavanaugh a ringing new endorsement Tuesday, saying he felt “so badly” that Kavanaugh is facing scrutiny over the allegations.

“This is not a man that deserves this,” Trump said. “I feel terrible for his family.”

The president renewed his criticism of Feinstein for not disclosing the allegations when she first learned of them in July. He accused Democrats of being “lousy politicians, but good obstructionists” in their efforts to derail Kavanaugh’s confirmation to a lifetime appointment on the country’s highest court. 

Feinstein reiterated Tuesday that making the allegations public was not her decision to make, but rather up to Ford to decide if and when we wanted to do so.

Ford, a California psychology professor, told The Washington Post Kavanaugh groped her at a suburban Washington house party when she was 15 and he was 17. 

She said Kavanaugh, “stumbling drunk,” threw her down on a bed, grinding his body against hers and trying to pull off her one-piece bathing suit and the clothing she was wearing over it. Ford said when she tried to scream, he put his hand over her mouth.

She said she feared Kavanaugh might inadvertently kill her before she managed to flee.

Some Democratic lawmakers have also called for an FBI investigation. The agency conducted background checks six times over the years on Kavanaugh.

But Trump said ahead of his news conference, “I don’t think the FBI should be involved because they don’t want to be involved.” He said senators hearing Ford’s accusations, if she testifies, “will open it up and they will do a very good job” considering Ford’s allegations and Kavanaugh’s denial.

Grassley said the panel plans to call only two witnesses, Ford and Kavanaugh, and not another man, Mark Judge, whom Ford says was in the same bedroom during the alleged attack.

Grassley’s omission of Judge, who has said he has no memory of the alleged attack, and other possible witnesses, drew the ire of Feinstein. 

“It’s impossible to take this process seriously,” Feinstein said.

“What about other witnesses like Kavanaugh’s friend Mark Judge?” Feinstein said. “What about individuals who were previously told about this incident? What about experts who can speak to the effects of this kind of trauma on a victim? This is another attempt by Republicans to rush this nomination and not fully vet Judge Kavanaugh.”

Republicans, some of whom see the allegations as a stalling tactic by Democrats to thwart Kavanaugh’s confirmation, have been pushing to confirm him before November’s midterm elections, when they could lose their 51-49 majority control of the Senate.

— 19/09/2018

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