Judiciary Committee To Hold Hearing On Accusations Against Judge Kavanaugh

After a day of political pressure, Senate Republicans have agreed to hold a hearing regarding the sexual assault allegations against Judge Brett Kavanaugh next week.

One day after Christine Blasey Ford, the woman accusing Supreme Court nominee Judge Brett Kavanaugh of sexually assaulting her when she was fifteen years old and he was seventeen, came forward with her allegations, the Senate Judiciary Committee announced that it will hold a hearing next Monday to hear from both Dr. Basey and the nominee:

WASHINGTON — The chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, under mounting pressure from senators of his own party, will call President Trump’s Supreme Court nominee, Judge Brett M. Kavanaugh, and the woman who has accused him of sexual assault before the committee on Monday for extraordinary public hearings just weeks before the midterm elections.

Senator John Kennedy, Republican of Louisiana, told reporters Monday afternoon that the chairman, Senator Charles E. Grassley, Republican of Iowa, told senators there would be an “opportunity” for senators to hear from Judge Kavanaugh and his accuser, Christine Blasey Ford, in a public setting where senators would be able to ask questions. Both have said they are willing to testify. A Senate Republican aide confirmed that it would be on Monday, effectively delaying a planned committee vote on Judge Kavanaugh’s nomination, which had been scheduled for this Thursday.

“Judge Kavanaugh looks forward to a hearing where he can clear his name of this false allegation. He stands ready to testify tomorrow if the Senate is ready to hear him,” White House spokesman Raj Shah said.

The hearings will set up a potentially explosive public showdown, one that carries unmistakable echoes of the 1991 testimony of Anita Hill, who accused the future Justice Clarence Thomas of sexual harassment in an episode that riveted the nation and ushered a slew of women into public office. They will play out against the backdrop of the #MeToo movement, which has energized Democratic women across the nation.

Mr. Trump on Monday vigorously defended his nominee, calling him an “outstanding” judge with an unblemished record, and dismissing as “ridiculous” the prospect that Judge Kavanaugh might withdraw his nomination. Nevertheless, he told reporters that he was willing to accept a delay in the judge’s path to confirmation in order to air the new information.

“He is somebody very special; at the same time, we want to go through a process, we want to make sure everything is perfect, everything is just right,” Mr. Trump told reporters at the White House. “If it takes a little delay, it will take a little delay — it shouldn’t certainly be very much.”

The willingness of accuser and accused to testify publicly carried the potential for a high-profile hearing over the charge, with a lifetime appointment to the Supreme Court at stake. Dr. Blasey has said Judge Kavanaugh sexually assaulted her at a social gathering in the 1980s when they were both teenagers. Judge Kavanaugh has categorically denied the allegations, which Dr. Blasey, a research psychologist, detailed in a letter sent in July to Senator Dianne Feinstein of California, the top Democrat on the Judiciary Committee, who kept its existence secret until last week.

By Monday, both the letter and Dr. Blasey’s identity had spilled out into the open, sending official Washington reeling and intensifying what had already been a nasty partisan battle over Judge Kavanaugh’s confirmation. With the Senate Judiciary Committee scheduled to vote on the confirmation Thursday — a vote that now looks as if it will almost certainly be delayed — Senator Mitch McConnell of Kentucky, the Republican leader, angrily assailed Democrats for raising the allegations at the last minute. Senator Chuck Schumer of New York, the Democratic leader, demanded the F.B.I. investigate, and raised questions about Judge Kavanaugh’s veracity.

More from Politico:

The Senate Judiciary Committee will have a chance to hear in public from the woman accusing Brett Kavanaugh of sexual assault and the Supreme Court nominee himself, a Republican member of the panel said on Monday.

The hearing has been scheduled for Monday Sept. 24. Both Kavanaugh’s camp and that of Christine Blasey Ford, who came forward Sunday with the allegation, have been contacted about the planned public hearing, a source close to the confirmation said.

“As I said earlier, anyone who comes forward as Dr. Ford has done deserves to be heard. My staff has reached out to Dr. Ford to hear her account, and they held a follow-up call with Judge Kavanaugh this afternoon. To provide ample transparency, we will hold a public hearing Monday to give these recent allegations a full airing,” Judiciary Chairman Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) said.

Democrats on the Judiciary panel “were not informed about a hearing” in advance of the GOP decision, an aide said.

Republicans moved ahead after a frenetic day that began with Ford’s lawyer saying that the California-based professor would willing to testify about her alleged high-school-era sexual assault by Kavanaugh — an accusation that has added fresh turmoil to his already tumultuous confirmation fight.

A growing number of Republicans said after Ford stepped into the public eye that GOP leaders’ plans to confirm Kavanaugh by the end of the month may need to be altered in order to hear her out. As of midday on Monday, six Republican senators have said that the Senate Judiciary Committee needs to weigh Ford’s account, a large enough group to raise serious doubts about whether the nomination will proceed.

But Kavanaugh himself has only doubled down on a strenuous denial of Ford’s allegation. The judge told Sen. Orrin Hatch in a Monday phone call that he did not attend the party more than three decades ago at which Ford says the assault occurred, the Utah Republican said.

“I believe him. He’s a person of immense integrity,” Hatch told reporters, declining to address how Kavanaugh could speak definitively about not attending a decades-old event that Ford has only discussed in broad terms.

Hatch suggested that Ford may have been “mixed up” in her memory of the night in question.

President Donald Trump — rather than criticizing Ford, as he has blasted the #MeToo movement — told reporters Monday that “if it takes a little delay, it’ll take a little delay” to vet the allegation.

“We want to go through a full process … and hear everybody out,” Trump told reporters, adding that he has not spoken to Kavanaugh about the matter.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) aligned with Kavanaugh’s denials, lamenting in a floor speech that Ford’s allegation had emerged “at the last minute and in an irregular manner” as he gave Grassley a vote of confidence in conducting interviews of both the judge and the professor.

Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) pushed back on the GOP for being unwilling so far to delay their timetable for confirming Kavanaugh in order to vet Ford’s story. “Republicans and their staff cannot impartially investigate these allegations,” Schumer said on the floor.

Debra Katz, Ford’s attorney, indicated openness to “a fair proceeding” in a Monday interview with “CBS This Morning.”

“My client will do whatever is necessary to make sure that the Senate Judiciary Committee has the full story and the full set of allegations to allow them to make a fully informed decision,” Katz said. “She’s willing to do what she needs to do.”

As I noted this morning, at least four Republicans had come out in favor of hearings on Dr. Basey’s, as she is known professionally, allegations withing hours after they became public late yesterday afternoon. The most important of those Republicans, arguably, was Senator Jeff Flake, who sits on the Judiciary Committee and could have single-handedly block the Committee vote that was scheduled for Thursday, but which is obviously now delayed until at least late next week. Several other Senators joined in those calls, including Senator Susan Collins, who said that Kavanaugh and his accuser should both be heard from in a live hearing for the benefit of the Committee, the Senate, and the American people. While there was some push back against the idea of a delay in the vote from some conservatives, the pressure on Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and Judiciary Committee Chairman Chuck Grassley to do respond only increased as the day went on. This only increased after the President’s statement, which appeared to support the idea of a hearing, and after both Judge Kavanaugh and Dr. Basey, through her attorney, said that they would be willing to sit for a public hearing. At that point, it was clear that it would be politically, and most likely practically, impossible for Republicans to ram Kavanaugh’s nomination through without a public hearing, especially with midterm elections just seven weeks away.

At the very least, this development means that Judge Kavanaugh will most likely not be confirmed in time for the beginning of the Court’s term on the first Monday in October. All in all, though, this seems like a small price to pay in order to get at least something close to the truth out in the open. In the end, it’s likely that all we will have to go on will be the testimony of Judge Kavanaugh and Dr. Basey, but that at least will be enough for Senators and members of the public alike to make their own determination about the credibility of the accuser and the accused and to determine what it should all mean for Judge Kavanaugh’s fitness to be Supreme Court Justice. That’s the least we can ask for.

FILED UNDER: Congress, Donald Trump, Law and the Courts, Politicians, Supreme Court, US Politics, ,
Doug Mataconis
About Doug Mataconis
Doug holds a B.A. in Political Science from Rutgers University and J.D. from George Mason University School of Law. He joined the staff of OTB in May 2010. Before joining OTB, he wrote at Below The BeltwayThe Liberty Papers, and United Liberty Follow Doug on Twitter | Facebook

Comments

  1. An Interested Party says:

    Poor Republicans…I’m sure many of them are upset that Kavanagh can’t just be pushed through…that’d be tricky, though, wouldn’t it, as we are no longer in the era of Clarence Thomas and Anita Hill…I suppose if Kavanagh was looking for some sympathy, he could talk to Merrick Garland…

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  2. Kathy says:

    It’s a bit hard to know how to respond to the occasional outbreak of sanity on Capitol Hill.

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  3. Kylopod says:

    @An Interested Party:

    we are no longer in the era of Clarence Thomas and Anita Hill

    Despite the comparisons we have been seeing, what Kavanaugh has been accused of is far worse than what Thomas was accused of–regardless of era. If Thomas had faced this accusation even in 1992, there’s a good chance he would not have been confirmed.

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  4. JKB says:

    @An Interested Party:

    Well, if he’s not confirmed, he’ll just go back to work on the DC circuit where the mechanizations of the Democrats will appear when challenged. Kavanaugh is of DC “Society” and that society is getting a lesson that even they aren’t safe.

    The most amusing was the open letter from alumnae from the woman’s elite school from 1965-2005 saying these incidents are what they heard and experienced while at the school. Of course, none was specific to Kavanaugh. So is there a #MeToo scandal in the elite prep schools of DC?

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  5. An Interested Party says:

    @JKB: Republicans should follow your lead and dismiss all of this…I’m sure that will really help their electoral chances…oh, maybe not

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  6. Scott says:

    Rachel Maddow had footage of the Anita Hill/Clarence Thomas hearings. I had watched those. Rewatching was painful and embarrassing. Guess who were at those hearings. Hatch and Grassley. They should be made to watch themselves before these new hearings. Horrible people.

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  7. MBunge says:

    @Kylopod: If Thomas had faced this accusation even in 1992, there’s a good chance he would not have been confirmed.

    Clarence Thomas wishes this has been the accusation against him.

    1. It happened over 35 years ago.

    2. The accuser can’t even remember fairly important details.

    3. The incident was never mentioned to anyone until 2012, 30 years after it happened.

    4. Unless the writers at the Washington Post are completely incompetent, it appears the accuser never specifically connected Kavanaugh to the incident until she sent her letter to Senator Feinstein.

    5. There’s ALREADY a discrepancy in her story, namely the therapist’s notes from 2012 says four males were involved and now it’s only two.

    To consider this accusation credible, you have to pretend “credible” means anyone can believably accuse anyone of anything as long as the accuser can claim to have been in the same geographic area at the same general time period as the accused.

    This woman could still be telling the truth, of course, but Donald Trump has made dozens and dozens of allegations against a whole host of people in the past two years with a lot more more factual and logistical evidence backing him up.

    Mike

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  8. MarkedMan says:

    Hmmm. You know what I’m not hearing? His female coworkers rushing to his defense and defending his character.

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  9. Grumpy realist says:

    @MBunge: because, of course, attempted rape is so much of a minor crime…

    “Boys will be boys,” hmmm?

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  10. HarvardLaw92 says:

    @MBunge:

    I love watching you twist and turn, desperately trying to come up with a narrative that makes sense.

    Regurgitation won’t save you, Mike.

    Kozinski clerks are already coming out of the woodwork to cast doubt on sections of Kavanaugh’s testimony regarding his time as a clerk there. You see a leaf fall, and you think you know which way the wind is blowing.

    Short version: Your problem isn’t going to be one accuser decimating Kavanaugh’s credibility and integrity. It’s going to be a chorus of them.

    I managed to view some video of Dr. Blasey speaking, and I have to tell you this: this bright, articulate woman conveys what we prosecutors call likeability. She plays well to a jury, or in this case to a Senate committee and a television audience. She’s also going to be ready to field anything they throw at her, and I do mean anything. This one isn’t going to back down. Not now …

    The endgame of this soap opera is going to be one single takeaway: who played better on camera? Who, at the end of the day, did the viewing audience believe? Who did they like more? Empathize with more?

    Helpful hint: It’s not going to be Brett Kavanaugh.

    By all means, though, please continue with your strategy of attacking the victim in a political / social climate where empowered women are taking down dragons and titans right and left. Making the GOP’s problem with women voters worse (if that is even possible) by doing so is a Democrat’s dream come true.

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  11. Eric Florack says:

    The question is will Cory Booker actually cry during this hearing. He came damn close last time…

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  12. Michael Reynolds says:

    @HarvardLaw92:

    The endgame of this soap opera is going to be one single takeaway: who played better on camera? Who, at the end of the day, did the viewing audience believe? Who did they like more? Empathize with more?

    Helpful hint: It’s not going to be Brett Kavanaugh.

    And that’s before we add the all-male Republican senators, including such sweethearts as Orrin Hatch and the reptilian Ted Cruz, confronting DiFi, Kamala, Mazie Hirono and easily the most likeable person of either gender in the Senate, Amy Klobuchar.

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  13. Michael Reynolds says:

    @Eric Florack:
    Oh noes! A man crying? Or almost crying? The horror. . . the horror. . .

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  14. SKI says:

    I want to see if they also take the testimony of Mark Judge. If not, it is a bad sign for caring about the truth.

  15. MarkedMan says:

    @Michael Reynolds: And can you imagine the cuts to Hatch and bullying and demeaning Anita Hill every time his mug pops up?

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  16. Tyrell says:

    There is probably some money involved somewhere.
    Why didn’t this accuser come forward earlier or go to the police? Why now?Why did Finestein wait until the hearings were over? She has either gone off the deep end completely or she got the “call.” And I think we know who it probably was from (not Obama or Hillary).
    The people did not like the Clarence Thomas fiasco. They are not going to like this ninth inning gambit.

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  17. OzarkHillbilly says:

    @SKI: “I blacked out.”

  18. KM says:

    @Tyrell :

    Why didn’t this accuser come forward earlier or go to the police? Why now?

    Because asshats like you are too busy asking why the victim didn’t live up to their standards of behavior to give a shit about, you know, the fact that they are VICTIMS. Same reason child abuse victims don’t speak up till they are older and feel safe enough that they can face the terrible things you’ll do and say to them for daring to speak up “now”

    And there was definitely money involved since we already know Kavanaugh’s debts mysteriously got paid off. HE’S on the take, not her. If I were you, I wouldn’t be bring up the whole payoff concept because that’s gonna cause him some issues…..

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  19. OzarkHillbilly says:

    @Tyrell:

    There is probably some money involved somewhere.

    Yep, somebody suddenly paid off all of Kavanaugh’s debts. Whatever could the quid pro quo be?

    Oh wait a minute, you mean Dr Blasey?

    Why didn’t this accuser come forward earlier or go to the police?

    Ever been raped?

    The people did not like the Clarence Thomas fiasco.

    No they didn’t and a lot of them are still pissed off about it, just not for the reasons you seem to think. (I’m pretty certain even you aren’t that dense)

    ETA: sigh… @KM: beat me by thiiiiiis much.

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  20. dmichael says:

    @SKI: The Republicans would be stupid to call Mark Judge to testify even if he presumably would try to be a corroborating witness for Kavanaugh. His admissions about his history, including with Kavanaugh, would be a minefield that would blow up the nomination. Better for the Repubs to avoid calling him (“too little time, etc.”) and let the Dems hammer them for failing to bring in the friend of Kavanaugh and witness to the alleged assault.

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  21. SKI says:

    @dmichael: You are of course right… IF the Republicans don’t care about whether or not he did it.

    And for McConnell and Grassley and Hatch, they clearly don’t care.

    However, Collins, Flake, Sasse, Murkowski, and possibly others might have a different perspective and the refusal to call Judge may be a factor in their decision-making.

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  22. KM says:

    @dmichael :

    “too little time”

    In today’s world, you can be anywhere in the country in hours in worst case scenarios. Especially if you don’t fly commercial and have to deal with TSA. Some Dem can offer to charter a flight and send some US Marshalls along to “ensure safety” since you’re skipping TSA lines. Hell, even offer to pay for his room so he can’t cite “inconvenience” or “finances” and officially summon his ass.

    Mark Judge before Congress will do nothing but harm to the nomination, regardless of his input on this particular matter. Why exactly are Dems not extending this generous offer so his refusal looks even sketchier?

  23. Eric Florack says:
  24. An Interested Party says:

    @Eric Florack: Oh noes!!!! We mustn’t allow shady links

    Can we talk about Keith Ellison now? Who does have a legitimate accuser, along with actual evidence?

    You’re certainly free to start your own blog if you are unhappy with the topics discussed here…maybe you could call it something like, “Fluffing for Trump”…I bet you’d get a lot of hits…

  25. OzarkHillbilly says:

    @KM: Antonin Scalia died in Feb 2016. Neil Gorsuch was not seated to replace him until April 2017. We’ve got at least that long to replace Kennedy.

  26. SKI says:

    @TM01:

    And now it sounds like Ford won’t even show up on Monday.

    No, it doesn’t. It sounds like they haven’t yet negotiated the terms of her appearance.

    Stop expecting everything to happen in a twitter cycle.

  27. Just nutha ignint cracker says:

    @Michael Reynolds: Don’t be so hard on Bit; all he has is this lame sarcasm about Cory Booker crying. He doesn’t even have a “she a lying slut” fake news, right-wing echo chamber article to link to. The fact that he’s still in the game, trying to pitch with a separated shoulder and a torn rotator cuff is amazing.

    It’s like he’s the Energizer Bunny of stupid.

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  28. Just nutha ignint cracker says:

    @An Interested Party: He actually HAS his own blog, or at least used to. I don’t know how many hits it gets, but the comments seem to be from about 4 or 5 total people–two or three of whom write for the blog.

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  29. Eric Florack says:

    It’s still there, and still get a couple hundred hits a week.

    http://bitsblog.theconservativereader.com

    and the point you conveniently dance around is…..if you were that concerned about sexual assaults, where are your comments on Keith Ellison of the charges against him?

    The bottom line is that the left is using these bogus charges as a way to prevent Cavanaugh from actually applying the Constitution to the cases before the ussc.

    And, of course youre happily playing along Michael.
    It tells me rather a lot.

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  30. Eric Florack says:
  31. Eric Florack says:

    By the way it appears Michael scramble the thread back there.

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  32. Gustopher says:

    They aren’t calling Mike Judge, they aren’t calling the therapist to corroborate this being mentioned in 2012, and the Trump administration is refusing to have the FBI look into it (which would be pretty standard practice with allegations on nominations, whether or not there is a prosecutable crime).

    They are setting it up to be Kavanaugh saying “nope” and then a bunch of senators hammering a woman.

    And, of course, no expert witnesses on how people react to sexual assault — as obviously no one wants any explanation as to whether it is normal for a women to not mention it for 30 years.

    There is no effort to get to the truth here — and I say this as someone who is very suspicious of memories of traumatic experiences from 30 years ago. The lack of corroborating evidence bothers me, but not as much as the lack of looking at what corroborating evidence is there.

  33. An Interested Party says:

    @Just nutha ignint cracker: Actually I was directing that comment at TM01…I’m already familiar with Florack’s cesspool…

  34. Eric Florack says:

    Uh huh.
    The other shoe just dropped.

    Senator Dianne Feinstein of California conceded Tuesday that she can’t attest to the veracity of Christine Blasey Ford’s allegation that Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh sexually assaulted her when they were in high school.

    “[Ford] is a woman that has been, I think, profoundly impacted. On this . . . I can’t say that everything is truthful. I don’t know,” Feinstein told reporters on Capitol Hill when asked if she believed the allegation.

    it’s very difficult indeed not to conclude that the reason Feinstein sat on that story for months was because she didn’t buy it either. Ultimately though she went with it because the Democrats are desperate and she didn’t have anything else in the quiver.

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  35. Eric Florack says:

    @Gustopher: even assuming the rape charge or molestation charge or whatever the hell this is is true, it’s not a federal crime, and therefore the FBI doesn’t investigate it’s because they don’t investigate crimes that aren’t Federal.

    Which could be why they call it the Federal Bureau of Investigation. I mean, it’s just a guess but it seems reasonable.

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  36. MarkedMan says:

    From the Congressional Research Services (a government agency whose job it is to research and explain issues to Congressmen at their request) white paper on the Supreme Court nomination process:

    In addition to the committee’s own investigation of the nominee, the FBI also investigates the nominee and provides the committee with confidential reports related to its investigation

    The FBI has already done an investigation of Kavanaugh. Trump has instructed them that they are not to reopen their investigation but rather consider it closed since they have already submitted their report.