As Democrats press for full disclosure of the events of that 1980s night during which a woman claims current Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh acted in a sexually inappropriate manner, one leading Democrat remains unwilling to share a full copy of the letter that ignited the controversy.
“I cannot overstate how disappointed I am,” Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Chuck Grassley wrote in a Wednesday letter to California Democratic Sen. Diane Feinstein, requesting an unredacted copy of Ford’s letter to Feinstein, Fox News reported.
In July, Feinstein received a letter from Christine Blasey Ford in which she accused Kavanaugh of attempted sexual misconduct during a party in the 1980s when both were in high school. Feinstein did not release the letter until this month, when the acrimonious confirmation process for Kavanaugh was winding down. She only shared it with the FBI, not other members of the Judiciary Committee.
— Senate Judiciary (@senjudiciary) September 19, 2018
“My staff has made repeated requests for this document — which has become a significant piece of evidence in Judge Kavanaugh’s confirmation process — but your staff has so far refused to provide a copy of the letter,” Grassley wrote, noting that the only available copy for the panel is a redacted one from the FBI “that only senators and a handful of very select staff are authorized to read.”
“Sexual assault allegations deserve serious attention, and those who make such allegations must be heard. They should not be deployed strategically for political gain,” he wrote, chiding Feinstein for keeping the letter under wraps for almost two months.
“There were numerous opportunities to raise the serious allegations made in the letter during the course of this nomination process. They could have been raised in your closed-door meeting with Judge Kavanaugh on August 20. Sixty-four other senators also met with Judge Kavanaugh prior to his confirmation hearing. These senators could have asked Judge Kavanaugh about these allegations if you had shared the letter,” he wrote.
Grassley said that he has learned more about the accusation from the media than from his Senate colleague.
“Had Dr. Ford not made her allegations public via The Washington Post over the weekend, I still would not know her identity,” Grassley wrote. “The fact is that these allegations could have been raised both within the last seven weeks and in a way that protected Dr. Ford’s anonymity. Instead, you chose to sit on the allegations until a politically opportune moment. I cannot overstate how disappointed I am in this decision.”
The letter also revealed that Grassley offered Ford multiple ways to testify.
“I have offered her the opportunity to testify in any of four possible venues: (1) a public hearing; (2) a private hearing; (3) a public staff interview; or (4) a private staff interview. I am even willing to have my staff travel to Dr. Ford in California — or anywhere else — to obtain her testimony,” he wrote.
Other Senate Democrats defended Feinstein’s actions.
“There is Dianne thinking: Here is a woman who may have been the victim of sexual assault who doesn’t want her name made public,” said Sen. Richard Durbin of Illinois, according to the Los Angeles Times. “That is a tough call at that point. You want to be sensitive to [Ford] and the reality of if it went public against her will.”
Republican senators have seized upon the delay as a weakness in the claim.
“There’s a process here that seems to be a bit suspicious,” said South Carolina’s Lindsey Graham.
At the time of Grassley’s letter, he was hoping to schedule a hearing for Monday to allow Ford and Kavanaugh to speak to senators. That appeared in doubt Thursday after Ford’s attorney, Debra Katz, said her client was open to testifying, but that she would not do so Monday, according to CNN.
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