Although Christine Blasey Ford has been invited to give her testimony to the Senate Judiciary Committee – in private or public – the California professor is pushing for the FBI to investigate her alleged sexual assault by Supreme Court Justice nominee Brett Kavanaugh decades ago.
Ford, a psychology teacher at Palo Alto University, publicly accused Kavanaugh of sexually assaulting her in the early 1980s before the Judiciary Committee was set to vote on his appointment to the nation’s highest court.
Ford said she was 15 and Kavanaugh was 17 when he allegedly assaulted her at a house party in Maryland. She claims he pinned her to a bed, attempted to remove her clothes and put his hand over her mouth to prevent her from screaming.
“I thought he might inadvertently kill me,” Ford told The Washington Post. “He was trying to attack me and remove my clothing.”
Kavanaugh, a federal appeals judge, has denied the accusations and says he’s willing to testify before the Judiciary Committee to prove his innocence.
Ford’s lawyers are calling for a “full investigation” by the FBI before she agrees to appear before lawmakers, saying it would “ensure that the crucial facts and witnesses in this matter are assessed in a non-partisan manner, and that the [Judiciary] Committee is fully informed before conducting any hearing or making any decisions.”
“As the Judiciary Committee has recognized and done before, an FBI investigation of the incident should be the first step in addressing her allegations,” lawyers Debra Katz and Lisa Banks said in a letter to the committee.
Trump doesn’t believe the allegations are something that would fall under the FBI’s jurisdiction.
“Well, it would seem that the FBI really doesn’t do that. They’ve investigated about six times before, and it seems that they don’t do that,” Trump told reporters Wednesday.
Here’s a look at why the FBI might not investigate.
Not a federal crime
A highly-placed law enforcement source told Fox News an FBI investigation will not occur for multiple reasons, especially since there’s no allegation of a federal crime. The source also dismissed the possibility of a criminal investigation because of the statute of limitations.
“This is a political issue, not a law enforcement one,” the source said.
The Department of Justice also said Ford’s allegation “does not involve any potential federal crime for the FBI to investigate.”
“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,” another federal law enforcement official told Fox News.
White House probably won’t make the request
Because Ford’s allegations do not involve any federal crime within the applicable statute of limitations, Fox News has learned the bureau would require explicit instructions from the White House to conduct any additional probe.
The FBI could interview Ford, Kavanaugh and others about the allegation if Trump asked the bureau to reopen its background investigation, but the president has rejected that idea, saying the FBI has already done its work.
When asked specifically if he would require the FBI to look into the allegations on Wednesday, Trump told reporters he’s going to “let the senators take their course.”
Background checks are different from investigations
The FBI is tasked with handling background checks for presidential nominees to the Supreme Court. But it is not tasked with judging the credibility of the allegations, the Justice Department said.
The Justice Department said the FBI already evaluated whether the nominee could pose a national security risk and provided that information “for the use of the decision makers.”
Greg T. Rinckey, a lawyer who specializes in federal employment issues, explained the FBI generally looks into criminal or national security issues when conducting background checks.
“Of course, if something like this comes up in a background check, they’d report it. Are they going to go into an investigation? No,” Rinckey told Fox News. “They’re going to do a detailed background check on [the nominee], but they don’t do an investigation.”
What do Republican lawmakers say?
Sen. Lindsey Graham, a Judiciary Committee member, said the demand for an FBI investigation “is not about finding the truth, but delaying the process until after the midterm elections.”
“It is imperative the Judiciary committee move forward on the Kavanaugh nomination and a committee vote be taken as soon as possible,” he added.
Judiciary Committee Chairman Chuck Grassley said “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.”
Judiciary Committee Ranking Member Dianne Feinstein noted the death threats and other harassment Ford and her family has received since she publicly accused Kavanaugh of sexual misconduct.
“We should honor Dr. Blasey Ford’s wishes and delay this hearing,” Feinstein said in a statement. “A proper investigation must be completed, witnesses interviewed, evidence reviewed and all sides spoken to. Only then should the chairman set a hearing date.”
“I support Dr. Blasey Ford’s request for an FBI background investigation before a hearing,” said Sen. Kamala Harris, D-Calif. “She should not be bullied into participating in a biased process and we should not rush forward before facts are gathered.”
Fox News’ Jake Gibson, Gregg Re, John Roberts and The Associated Press contributed to this report.