Republicans on the Senate Judiciary Committee are reportedly considering having outside lawyers and even female staffers question Christine Blasey Ford, the Palo Alto, California, psychology professor who has accused Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh of sexual assault, if she testifies on Monday.
Ford’s lawyers sent a letter to Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Chuck Grassley (R-IA) on Tuesday indicating that Ford will testify after an FBI investigation is conducted. One of Ford’s lawyers, Lisa Banks, told CNN’s Anderson Cooper on Tuesday evening that her client is “not prepared” to testify on Monday before an FBI investigation and “can’t focus” on the hearings after receiving “harassment” and “death threats.”
Democrats and their media allies immediately hammered Republicans this week for not having a female Senator on the Judiciary Committee, and, according to a Tuesday evening Politico report, Republicans are considering using an “independent outside lawyer” to question Ford “to head off the potentially bad optics of older white men questioning a woman about alleged sexual assault.”
HuffPo also reported on Tuesday that “three Democratic sources familiar with the committee’s planning” said Republican Senators are also considering having top female staffers question Ford, who has not confirmed as of Tuesday evening whether she will even attend Monday’s hearing.
“We’ve discussed various options, including hiring outside lawyers and supplementing that with senators asking questions,” Sen. John Cornyn (R-Texas), a member of the Judiciary Committee, told the outlet. “So, any senator who wants to ask questions remains free to do so. But I don’t want want to get in front of the chairman.”
Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-CA), the Judiciary Committee’s ranking member, accused Republicans of trying to “rush” the nomination and called for more witnesses to be called on Monday even as she waffled on whether “everything is truthful” about Ford’s accusations.
“Chairman Grassley today said there would be only two witnesses invited to testify at the Kavanaugh hearing next week on sexual assault allegations. Compare that to the 22 witnesses at the 1991 Anita Hill hearing and it’s impossible to take this process seriously,” she said in a Tuesday statement. “What about other witnesses like Kavanaugh’s friend Mark Judge? What about individuals who were previously told about this incident? What about experts who can speak to the effects of this kind of trauma on a victim? This is another attempt by Republicans to rush this nomination and not fully vet Judge Kavanaugh.”
Political operatives from both parties told the Washington Post that female voters could turn out for Democrats like they did in 1992 after the Clarence Thomas/Anita Hill hearings “if Republicans mishandle the investigation of Ford’s allegations.”