Christine Ford, the California professor accusing Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh of sexual assault more than three decades ago, is “being used” by Democrats who have “betrayed her,” Sen. Lindsey Graham told “Fox News Sunday.”
Graham, R-S.C., a member of the Senate Judiciary Committee, also made clear that Republicans “are not going to turn the hearing over to her lawyers” by allowing them to dictate which witnesses to call, or in what order to call the witnesses. If Ford’s lawyer’s persist, Graham said, “there won’t be a hearing.”
The South Carolina Republican specifically took an apparent shot at Sen. Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif., who received Ford’s allegations in a confidential letter in July through a Northern California congresswoman. Ford only went public last week after news of the letter’s existence leaked to the Intercept — a leak Republicans have linked to Senate Democrats.
“I’m want to listen to Dr. Ford,” Graham said. “I feel sorry for her. I think she’s being used here. If she truly wanted to be anonymous, the person who brought this allegation to the public owes her an apology.”
He added: “I don’t know what Dr. Ford expected us to do with an anonymous letter. If she wanted to stay anonymous those who betrayed her need to apologize.”
That criticism was echoed last week by Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Chuck Grassley, who wrote a letter telling Feinstein, “I cannot overstate how disappointed I am” in her handling of Ford’s claims.
“I feel sorry for her. I think she’s being used here.”
Ford’s legal team last week asked the Senate Judiciary Committee to agree to certain terms before she sits down for a potential interview. Among the terms: Only members of the committee — no lawyers — can question her; Kavanaugh cannot be in the room at the time; and Kavanaugh should be questioned first, before he has the opportunity to hear Ford’s testimony.
But, Graham said, some of those requests were nonstarters, especially because Ford has already been granted several extensions to make a decision on when to testify.
“Chairman [Chuck] Grassley has bent over backwards to make this happen,” Graham told host Chris Wallace. “The offer is Thursday at 10 o’clock. She made ten conditions through her lawyer. We’ve accepted six.
“We’re not going to turn over to the other side how many witnesses to call. There will be two witnesses, Dr. Ford, then Judge Kavanaugh, and we’ll hire our own counsel. … If they continue to contest those two things, there won’t be a hearing. If they really want to be heard, they can be heard in a small room with a lot of security, limited press availability, she’ll be treated fairly. But we’re not going to turn the hearing over to her lawyers.”
Asked by Wallace whether Republicans wanted to bring in outside lawyers simply to avoid the optics of having the all-male Republican contingent on the Judiciary Committee asking Ford questions, Graham said there were other concerns at play.
“We’ve got 11 politicians who haven’t done a trial in about 20 years,” Graham said. “I thought it would be really smart to have someone come in who knows what the hell they’re doing, to ask the questions, to be respectful.”
Graham also rejected an impassioned plea last week by Hawaii Democratic Sen. Mazie Hirono, who told men to “shut up and step up” in the wake of the accusations against Kavanaugh.
“I am not going to shut up, with all due respect,” Graham said. “When I voted for Sotomayor and Kagan, no one on the other side told me to shut up.”
He added: “What am I supposed to do? Go ahead and ruin this guy’s life, based on an accusation — I don’t know when it happened, I don’t know where it happened, and everybody named in regard to being there said it didn’t happen. I’m just being honest. Unless there’s something more, no, I’m not going to ruin Judge Kavanuagh’s life over this.”
Ford, in an interview with The Washington Post, said Kavanaugh forcibly threw her onto a bed and tried to remove her clothes more than 35 years ago at a high school house party. Ford, who said Kavanaugh tried covering her mouth before she escaped, has acknowledged she is unable to recall exactly when the alleged attack occured, who owned the house involved, and why there was a gathering there.
She has also said her therapist inaccurately recorded that four boys were involved in the assault, rather than two.
Graham also reacted to reports over the weekend that Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein suggested wearing a wire to take down President Trump — a remark that a source in the room has told Fox News was “sarcastic.”
“We need a special counsel to look at this, not Mr. [Michael] Horowitz, the IG [Inspector General of the Justice Department],” Graham said, after arguing that Rosenstein shouldn’t be fired unless the president thinks he’s lying. “Rosenstein is doing this country a great disservice by not appointing a special counsel to look at all this.
“There’s a bureaucratic coup against President Trump being undiscovered here,” Graham said. “Before the election, the people in question tried to taint the election to tip it in Clintons’ favor — and after the election they are trying to undermine the president. I don’t know what Rosenstein did, but I know what [Andy] McCabe, [Bruce] Ohr, [Lisa] Page and [Peter]Strzok did. They tried to destroy this president.”