Senate Judiciary Republicans call on Feinstein to release letter after Kavanaugh accuser breaks silence
BY EMILY BIRNBAUM
© Greg Nash
Senate Judiciary Committee Republicans are calling on Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) to publicly release a letter reportedly detailing sexual assault accusations against Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh after his accuser went public with allegations on Sunday.
A Republican committee spokesman on Sunday expressed concern over the timing of the accusations coming to light, questioning why Democrats are now bringing the allegations to the public’s attention after reportedly being informed of them months ago.
“It raises a lot of questions about Democrats’ tactics and motives to bring this to the rest of the committee’s attention only now rather than during these many steps along the way,” the spokesman said in a statement. “Senator Feinstein should publicly release the letter she received back in July so that everyone can know what she’s known for weeks.”
Christine Blasey Ford, a Palo Alto University professor of psychology, on Sunday publicly identified herself in a Washington Post investigation as the woman accusing Kavanaugh of sexual assault. Ford told the Post that Kavanaugh pinned her to a bed and forced himself on her in the early 1980s, when the two were attending neighboring high schools in Montgomery County, Md.
Ford told the paper that she sent the letter to Feinstein through her congresswoman, Rep. Anna Eshoo (D-Calif.). The California senator passed along the statement to the FBI late Wednesday night.
The claim was attributed to an anonymous woman before Ford broke her silence on Sunday.
A spokesperson for Feinstein on Friday said the woman who accused Kavanaugh “did not want this information to be public.”
“The senator took these allegations seriously and believed they should be public,” the statement read. “However, the woman in question made it clear she did not want this information to be public. It is critical in matters of sexual misconduct to protect the identity of the victim when they wish to remain anonymous, and the senator did so in this case.”
But the GOP committee spokesman said the timing of the allegations being made public was suspect, given Senate Democrats were reportedly aware of the allegations since July.
“It’s disturbing that these uncorroborated allegations from more than 35 years ago, during high school, would surface on the eve of a committee vote after Democrats sat on them since July,” the spokesman said.
The spokesman also appeared to question Senate Democrats’ belief in the validity of the allegations against Kavanaugh, given none pressed the nominee on the accusations during his confirmation hearing last week.
“If Ranking Member Feinstein and other Committee Democrats took this claim seriously, they should have brought it to the full Committee’s attention much earlier,” the spokesman continued.
The spokesman provided several links to statements from those who say they are former classmates of Kavanaugh vouching for his innocence and character. One link included a list of 65 women who claim they knew the nominee in high school. The women signed onto a letter saying Kavanaugh has “treated women with respect.”
Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.), who is a member of the Senate Judiciary Committee, echoed the committee’s concerns about the timing of when Ford’s allegations have come to light, but expressed a willingness to hear her account in the Senate.
“If the committee is to hear from Ms. Ford, it should be done immediately so the process can continue as scheduled,” Graham said in a statement.
The FBI, in a statement this week, said it has added the accusation against Kavanaugh to his file, but did not announce plans to open an investigation into the allegation because it came too late in the process.
In the Post, Ford accused Kavanaugh of holding her down and forcefully groping her during a party in the early 1980s. She said Kavanaugh held his hand over her mouth to prevent her from screaming.
She claims the incident has affected her mental health for decades and provided notes from therapy sessions with her husband in which she discusses the event, which she calls a “rape attempt.”
Her lawyer told the Post that Ford’s story passed a polygraph test administered by a former FBI agent.
“I categorically and unequivocally deny this allegation,” Kavanaugh said in a statement provided by the White House. “I did not do this back in high school or at any time.”
The White House reportedly provided the same statement to the Post on Sunday.
“To railroad a vote now would be an insult to the women of America and the integrity of the Supreme Court,” Schumer said in a statement.
–Updated at 5:41 p.m.