Attempts by Republican Senate leaders to rush U.S. Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh through the confirmation process have stalled, at least for another week, following allegations of sexual assault.
Republicans had planned to vote Thursday to recommend Kavanaugh’s confirmation to the full Senate — well ahead of the midterm elections. However, on Sunday, Christine Blasey Ford went public about her encounter with 17-year-old Kavanaugh during a party in the early 1980s, telling the Washington Post he muffled her screams with his hand while he attempted to sexually assault her.
On Monday, several prominent Republican senators, including Sens. Jeff Flake (R-AZ), Bob Corker (R-TN), Lisa Murkowski (R-AK), and Roy Blunt (R-MO) urged Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Chuck Grassley (R-IA) to delay the vote until they heard from Kavanaugh and Ford about the allegations and had an opportunity to ask questions. On Monday evening, Grassley announced that hearing will take place next Monday, postponing the Thursday vote.
“As I said earlier, anyone who comes forward as Dr. Ford has done deserves to be heard. My staff reached out to Dr. Ford to hear her account, and they held a follow-up call with Judge Kavanaugh this afternoon,” Grassley said in a statement. “Unfortunately, committee Democrats have refused to join us in this effort. However, to provide ample transparency, we will hold a public hearing Monday to give these recent allegations a full airing.”
It's official. pic.twitter.com/1qOnEC0Gi5
— Chris Geidner (@chrisgeidner) September 17, 2018
Ford’s accusations sent shock waves through Washington and prompted mixed reactions from Republicans. Sen. Orrin Hatch (R-UT) said his fellow senators should consider Kavanaugh for who he is “today.” Sen. Susan Collins (R-ME), one of the loudest voices calling for the resignation of former Sen. Al Franken (D-MN), said she wasn’t sure if she believed Ford and would need to hear from both sides. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) railed against Democrats, claiming they “spent weeks and weeks searching for any possible reason that the nomination should be delayed, now, now, they choose to introduce this allegation.”
The White House dismissed Ford as a liar and denied the allegations, with the president’s son, Donald Trump Jr., mocking her on Instagram. Kavanaugh himself has also denied the allegations.
Last week, before Ford publicly came forward, it was reported that Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-CA) had forwarded a letter describing the events to the FBI for investigation. In the Washington Post story, Ford, a clinical psychology professor in California, described how Kavanaugh pinned her to a bed on her back and groped her over her clothes, grinded his body against hers, tried to pull off her clothes, and held his hand over her mouth as she tried to scream.