Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Chuck Grassley reminded Democrats in a letter released Wednesday evening that it is the Senate’s, not the FBI’s, responsibility to investigate the sexual assault allegations made against Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh.
Further, the timeline set to hear from Kavanaugh’s accuser, Christine Blasey Ford, is more generous than that afforded to Anita Hill to appear before the Judiciary Committee chaired by then-Senator Joe Biden following her sexual harassment allegations against Justice Clarence Thomas, which also became public late in the confirmation process in 1991.
In his letter, Grassley responded to Democratic members of the Judiciary Committee’s demand that the FBI investigate Ford’s allegation that Kavanaugh sexually assaulted her when the two were in high school in 1982.
“Your letter requests that I demand that the FBI conduct an additional investigation into this matter,” wrote Grassley. “This request demonstrates a fundamental misunderstanding of the FBI background investigation process.”
JUST IN: Chuck Grassley responds to Democrats' request to reopen FBI background investigation of Brett Kavanaugh, criticizes “the latest—and most serious—of your side’s abuse of this confirmation process.” https://t.co/LvTe3kY4Fn pic.twitter.com/BQso61sVzU
— ABC News (@ABC) September 19, 2018
“It is not the FBI’s role to investigate a matter such as this,” Grassley explained. “The Constitution assigns the Senate, and only the Senate, with the task of advising the President on his nominee and consenting to the nomination if the circumstances merit. We have no power to commandeer an Executive Branch agency into conducting our due diligence.”
Sen. Chuck Grassley says he wants Dr. Ford to testify in an open or closed session or in public or private interviews: "That's 4 different ways she can choose to come" pic.twitter.com/ntBLcIcHdq
— QuickTake by Bloomberg (@QuickTake) September 19, 2018
He then highlighted how differently Biden handled the allegations made against Thomas, noting that the senator made the White House immediately aware of the issue while Sen. Dianne Feinstein has been sitting on Ford’s allegations for over six weeks.
Eventually, Hill’s allegation was leaked after Thomas had gone through his confirmation hearing.
Five days later, Hill appeared before the Judiciary Committee, according to Grassley’s letter.
“We are in the same position the Committee was in after Professor Hill’s allegations were leaked,” Grassley contended. “After that leak, we did not ask the FBI to conduct an investigation. Instead, we reopened the hearing and assessed the testimony that was given on our own. As in 1991, it is now up to the Senate to gather and assess the relevant evidence.”
“I am following the same timeline Chairman Biden did after Professor Hill’s allegations were made public,” he added. Grassley in fact has given Ford two more days notice than Hill had.
Grassley pointed out that Kavanaugh immediately agreed to be interviewed by the committee about the allegations and has already done so.
“He fully, candidly, and unequivocally answered all the questions. We have no reason to doubt the truthfulness of Judge Kavanaugh’s testimony,” the chairman said.
Grassley chastised committee Democrats for refusing to participate in that interview.
He also recounted the numerous accommodations it has offered Ford, from a public hearing to a closed door session this Monday to a private interview conducted in California or “anywhere else.”
“Where I am focused right now is doing anything that we can to make Dr. Ford comfortable with coming before the committee,” Grassley told reporters on Capitol Hill on Wednesday. “So I am not worried about anything other than just focusing for the next few days on encouraging her to come.”
In a letter to Ford’s attorneys, Grassley explained why the Senate cannot direct the FBI to open an investigation into their client’s allegation, as they have demanded.
“I certainly understand and respect Dr. Ford’s desire for an investigation of her allegations,” he wrote. “That is precisely what the Senate is doing. That is why our investigators have asked to speak with your client. That is why I have invited Dr. Ford to tell her story to the Senate and, if she so chooses, to the American people.”
On Tuesday, a federal law enforcement official explained to Fox News why the FBI should not investigate the matter.
“It’s totally inappropriate for someone to demand we use law enforcement resources to investigate a 35-year-old allegation when she won’t go under oath and can’t remember key details including when or where it happened,” the official stated.
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