Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Chuck Grassley (R-IA) sent a letter on Wednesday to California psychology professor Christine Blasey Ford saying she has until Friday to tell whether she intends to testify before the committee’s hearing on Monday regarding her accusation that Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh sexually assaulted Ford when they were both in high school.
Chairman Grassley sent a letter to Ford’s lawyers, requesting Grassley to either testify in public or private before the committee on Monday.
Ford has so far declined to say whether she will testify Monday and instead asked the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) to investigate the case; The agency has declined to do so.
Ford now alleges that back in the 1980’s, a 17-year-old Kavanaugh and a friend of his allegedly pulled Ford into a room during a high school party in suburban Maryland, forced her onto a bed and groped her over her clothing before she was able to escape.
Grassley said Tuesday that Monday’s hearing with Ford and Kavanaugh could be canceled if Ford does not testify on Monday, suggesting that it would be pointless without her testimony.
Chairman Grassley asked rhetorically, “Do they want to have the hearing or not? We’re delaying the vote strictly to get all the facts out on the table. What would be the purpose of the hearing if Dr. Ford doesn’t want to respond?”
In the letter to Ford’s lawyers, Grassley rebuked the call for an FBI investigation into her allegation against Kavanaugh, stating that the FBI has already conducted a background check into any executive or judicial nominee. Instead, the Senate Judiciary Committee chairman contended that only the Senate could determine the worthiness of a Supreme Court nominee.
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 diligenence. The job of assessing and investigating a nominee’s qualifications in order to decide whether to consent to the nomination is ours, and ours alone.
Sen. Grassley also said that “anyone who comes forward with allegations of sexual assault has a right to be heard,” and he wants to give Ford an opportunity to tell her story to the Senate and “if she chooses, to the American people.”
— Frank Thorp V (@frankthorp) September 19, 2018
The Iowa senator then said that he also wants to give Judge Kavanaugh an opportunity to respond to the allegations.
Chairman Grassley concluded in his letter that Dr. Ford has until Friday morning to inform the Senate Judiciary Committee whether she intends to testify on Monday.
Sen. Susan Collins (R-ME), who is considered one of the key swing votes, said in a tweet on Wednesday that she hoped that Ford would reconsider testifying before the committee either in public or private.
I hope that Dr. Ford will reconsider and testify before the Senate Judiciary Committee on Monday. It is my understanding that the Committee has offered to hold either a public or a private session, whichever would make her more comfortable.
— Sen. Susan Collins (@SenatorCollins) September 19, 2018
Meanwhile, Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-CA), the ranking member of the Senate Judiciary Committee and the conduit through whom Ford’s allegation surfaced, expressed doubts about Ford’s accusation on Tuesday.
According to Fox News reporter Connor Marley, Feinstein said, “I can’t say that everything is truthful. I don’t know.”