The timeline of events following Christine Blasey Ford’s decision to go public with her allegations against Judge Brett Kavanaugh can be characterized as a series of solicitous accommodations on the part of the Senate Judiciary Committee and its chairman, followed by shifting demands and stonewalling from Democrats and Ford’s lawyers.
The letters, statements, and public comments from Senate Republicans and the White House make clear their eagerness for Ford to come forward and be heard before the Senate Judiciary Committee, either in private or in public. At first, Democrats demanded that the accuser be heard. But once Republicans agreed, the goalposts moved, and moved, and moved — always in the direction of delaying the confirmation vote.
The following is a timeline of events.
(Editor’s Note: scroll down for the latest updates.)
Summer 2018: Christine Blasey Ford, a professor of clinical psychology at Palo Alto University, contacted the Washington Post’s tip line after learning that Judge Brett Kavanaugh was on President Trump’s shortlist to replace Justice Anthony Kennedy, the Washington Post reported.
The Post also reported that around that same time, Ford contacted Rep. Anna G. Eshoo (D-CA), her representative in Congress.
Monday, July 9, 2018: Trump officially nominated Kavanaugh to serve as retiring Justice Kennedy’s replacement on the Supreme Court.
Late July 2018: According to the Washington Post, in late July, Ford sent a letter through Rep. Eschoo’s office to Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-CA), the ranking Democrat on the Senate Judiciary Committee. In the letter, Ford requested anonymity and alleged that Judge Brett Kavanaugh attempted to sexually assault her at a party 35 years ago when they were both teenagers and he was “stumbling drunk” at the time.
Sen. Feinstein did nothing with Ford’s letter. She did not alert the Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman, Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-IA), as is customary. She did not alert the Federal Bureau of Investigations (FBI), so that they could include it in their background investigation of the nominee. She did not even alert her fellow Democrats on the Committee. She would later claim that her lack of action was due to her desire to honor Ford’s request for confidentiality.
Early August 2018: Ford hired Debra Katz, a lawyer with a long history in Democratic politics who specializes in sexual harassment cases. On Katz’s advice, Ford took a polygraph test. The results were later provided to the Washington Post, which reported that the test “concluded that Ford was being truthful when she said a statement summarizing her allegations was accurate.”
Late August 2018: According to the Washington Post, in Late August, “Ford had decided not to come forward, calculating that doing so would upend her life and probably would not affect Kavanaugh’s confirmation. ‘Why suffer through the annihilation if it’s not going to matter?’ she said.”
Tuesday-Friday, September 4-7, 2018: The Senate Judiciary Committee held confirmation hearings with Kavanaugh from September 4 through 6. On Friday, September 7, they heard expert testimony from Kavanaugh’s supporters and detractors. This would have been the appropriate venue for Ford to present her accusations. However, if she desired to remain anonymous, Sen. Feinstein could have raised the allegations directly with Kavanaugh during any of the hearings on Tuesday through Thursday. Instead, the hearings concluded without any mention of Ford’s allegations.
Wednesday, September 12, 2018: Democrats on the Senate Judiciary Committee “first learned about [Ford’s] letter’s contents at a meeting called at the last minute on Wednesday night,” according to the Washington Post. The New York Times reported: “Several Democrats advised [Feinstein] to take [the letter’s] claims to the F.B.I., and others pressed for it to become public.”
The story of Ford’s letter then leaked to the Intercept, which reported that “Democrats on the Senate Judiciary Committee have privately requested to view a Brett Kavanaugh-related document in possession of the panel’s top Democrat, Dianne Feinstein, but the senior California senator has so far refused, according to multiple sources familiar with the situation.”
Thursday, September 13, 2018: Feinstein finally issued a statement confirming the existence of the letter but declining to offer any details.
“I have received information from an individual concerning the nomination of Brett Kavanaugh to the Supreme Court,” Feinstein wrote. “That individual strongly requested confidentiality, declined to come forward or press the matter further, and I have honored that decision. I have, however, referred the matter to federal investigative authorities.”
The New York Times reported, “The F.B.I. said in a statement on Thursday that it had received Ms. Feinstein’s referral and included it in Judge Kavanaugh’s background file. A bureau official also said that no criminal investigation had been opened related to the matter.”
The updated copy of Kavanaugh’s file with the letter was then sent by the White House to Senate Judiciary Chairman Grassley, as is customary.
“In addition to criminal investigations, the F.B.I. conducts background checks on all major government appointees, including Supreme Court nominees,” the Times noted.
The media soon worked itself into a frenzy to discover the name of the accuser and the exact nature of her accusation, which the New York Times said involved “possible sexual misconduct.”
Ford began to worry that her identity would become public after a Buzzfeed reporter turned up at her home and workplace and another reporter contacted her colleagues.
In response to news of the mysterious letter, White House spokesperson Kerri Kupec issued the following statement: “Throughout his confirmation process, Judge Kavanaugh has had 65 meetings with senators—including with Senator Feinstein—sat through over 30 hours of testimony, addressed over 2,000 questions in a public setting and additional questions in a confidential.”
“Not until the eve of his confirmation has Sen. Feinstein or anyone raised the specter of new ‘information’ about him,” the official added.
Friday, September 14, 2018: Ronan Farrow and Jane Mayer of The New Yorker got their hands on the contents of the letter and reported the most accurate description to date of the alleged incident.
Sunday, September 16, 2018: Ford went on the record with the Washington Post revealing her name and conveying the entire incident in her own words. She told the Post, “Now I feel like my civic responsibility is outweighing my anguish and terror about retaliation.”
Ford’s lawyer Debra Katz told the Post: “Victims must have the right to decide whether to come forward, especially in a political environment that is as ruthless as this one. She will now face vicious attacks by those who support this nominee.”
Ford’s account to the Post also made clear that she was uncertain about key details, such as the exact date of the event, location, and how she got to the party and got home from it. She also revealed that she told no one about the incident until 2012, when she and her husband were in couples therapy. That year, Kavanaugh’s name was included in a short list of potential Supreme Court nominees for Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney.
The notes Ford’s therapist’s wrote, which the Post acquired in part, contained glaring discrepancies about the incident. The therapist wrote that four boys were involved in the alleged assault, but Ford claimed that only two were: Kavanaugh and his friend, Mark Judge. The therapist’s notes also do not contain Kavanaugh’s name. Ford blamed the discrepancies on the therapist’s transcription.
The editorial board of Sen. Feinstein’s hometown newspaper, the San Francisco Chronicle, denounced her handling of Ford’s allegations, calling it “unfair all around. It was unfair to Kavanaugh, unfair to his accuser and unfair to Feinstein’s colleagues — Democrats and Republicans alike — on the Senate Judiciary Committee.”
Monday, September 17, 2018: President Trump said he was open to having the Senate Judiciary Committee delay the confirmation vote to consider Ford’s allegation.
“I want the American people to be happy because they’re getting somebody that is great. I want him to go in at the absolute highest level. And I think to do that you have to go through this. If it takes a little delay, it’ll take a little delay,” Trump said.
Senate Judiciary Chairman Chuck Grassley issued the following statement:
Anyone who comes forward as Dr. Ford has deserves to be heard, so I will continue working on a way to hear her out in an appropriate, precedented and respectful manner.
The standard procedure for updates to any nominee’s background investigation file is to conduct separate follow-up calls with relevant parties. In this case, that would entail phone calls with at least Judge Kavanaugh and Dr. Ford. Consistent with that practice, I asked Senator Feinstein’s office yesterday to join me in scheduling these follow-ups. Thus far, they have refused. But as a necessary step in evaluating these claims, I’ll continue working to set them up.
Unfortunately, committee Republicans have only known this person’s identity from news reports for less than 24 hours and known about her allegations for less than a week. Senator Feinstein, on the other hand, has had this information for many weeks and deprived her colleagues of the information necessary to do our jobs. The Minority withheld even the anonymous allegations for six weeks, only to later decide that they were serious enough to investigate on the eve of the committee vote, after the vetting process had been completed.
It’s deeply disturbing that the existence of these allegations were leaked in a way that seemed to preclude Dr. Ford’s confidentiality.
Over my nearly four decades in the Senate I have worked diligently to protect whistleblowers and get to the bottom of any issue. Dr. Ford’s attorney could have approached my office, while keeping her client confidential and anonymous, so that these allegations could be thoroughly investigated. Nevertheless, we are working diligently to get to the bottom of these claims.
Other Republican senators — including crucial GOP swing votes — agreed with the need to hear from Ford.
Sen. Susan Collins (R-ME) said, “Professor Ford and Judge Kavanaugh should both testify under oath before the Judiciary Committee.”
Sen. Jeff Flake (R-AZ), a member of the Senate Judiciary Committee, said: “If they push forward without any attempt with hearing what she’s had to say, I’m not comfortable voting yes. We need to hear from her. And I don’t think I’m alone in this.”
Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R-AK) said, “I think [delaying the vote] might be something they might have to consider, at least having that discussion. This is not something that came up during the hearings. And if there is real substance to this, it demands a response.”
Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC), a member of the Judiciary Committee, said, “If Ms. Ford wishes to provide information to the committee, I would gladly listen to what she has to say and compare that against all other information we have received about Judge Kavanaugh.”
Now that there was general agreement that Ford’s testimony should be heard, the Democrats deftly moved the goalposts with a new demand that would delay the confirmation even more. They insisted that the FBI must conduct an investigation into Ford’s allegations, despite the fact that the FBI had already fulfilled its obligation in this matter by including Ford’s letter in Kavanaugh’s background file and forwarding it to the White House.
Nevertheless, Sen. Feinstein tweeted, “There’s a lot of information we don’t know and the FBI should have the time it needs to review this new material.”
Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) agreed, tweeting, “[Senate Republicans] cannot impartially investigate these disturbing allegations. That must be done by the FBI, and the vote must be postponed until it is complete.”
Senate Judiciary Committee Democrats then sent a letter to Sen. Grassley demanding the vote on Kavanaugh be delayed for an FBI investigation.
Their letter stated: “As you are aware, Dr. Ford’s serious allegations were submitted to the FBI for investigation last week. Now that her story is public, it is even more important that we give the Bureau the time it needs to follow up. All Senators, regardless of party, should insist the FBI perform its due diligence and fully investigate the allegations as part of its review of Judge Kavanaugh’s background. Staff-level examination of these allegations should not go forward until the FBI’s career professionals with the requisite investigative expertise have completed their review. Once the FBI has completed its independent work, we hope that we can work together in a bipartisan manner to decide on next steps.”
The Department of Justice shot down this talking point in a statement issued Monday night, declaring that the FBI can not and will not be investigating Ford’s allegation because it “does not involve any potential federal crime” and is therefore beyond the FBI’s jurisdiction.
The statement explained that the FBI’s role in conducting a background investigation into a nominee is “to determine whether the nominee could pose a risk to the national security of the United States” and then to provide that information “for the use of the decision makers.” The DOJ said, “it’s not the job of the FBI to judge the significance or the credibility of an accusation.”
That afternoon, Sen. Grassley issued a statement that the Judiciary Committee was attempting to reach Ford, who was not responding to their inquiries, but would cancel the confirmation vote scheduled for Thursday, September 20, and instead hold a public hearing on Ford’s claim on Monday, September 25.
“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. Unfortunately, committee Democrats have refused to join us in this effort. However, to provide ample transparency, we will hold a public hearing Monday to give these recent allegations a full airing,” Grassley said.
Tuesday, September 18, 2018: Ignoring the Department of Justice’s prior statements on the matter, Senate Democrats sent a letter to FBI Director Chris Wray and White House Counsel Don McGahn demanding the FBI investigate Kavanaugh.
They wrote: “The need for the FBI to perform its due diligence has become even more important in light of Chairman Grassley’s announcement that he plans to move forward with a hearing on this matter next Monday. The Committee should have the completed report before any hearing occurs and we ask that you take immediate steps to make sure that we have the FBI’s report before we proceed. Please notify us as soon as possible whether this can be completed in time.”
Wednesday, September 19, 2018: Sen. Grassley responded to the Judiciary Committee Democrats’ letter with a letter of his own detailing why their demand for an FBI investigation was totally unnecessary now that Ford’s allegation has been made public. Such a demand, Grassley explained, was akin to demanding that the FBI do the Senate’s job. It is now the duty of the Senate Judiciary Committee to call witnesses, gather evidence, and conduct the investigation going forward, not the FBI.
Grassley’s letter stated (emphasis in the original):
Your letter requests that I demand that the FBI conduct an additional investigation into this matter. This request demonstrates a fundamental misunderstanding of the FBI background investigation process. Before nominating an individual to a judicial or executive office, the White House directs the FBI to conduct a background investigation. The FBI compiles information about a prospective nominee and sends it to the White House. The White House then provides FBI background investigation files to the Senate as a courtesy to help us determine whether to confirm a nominee. But the FBI does not make a credibility assessment of any information it receives with respect to a nominee. Nor is it tasked with investigating those matters that this Committee deems important. The Constitution assigns the Senate, and only the Senate, with the task of advising the President on his nominees and consenting if the circumstances merit. We have no power to commandeer an executive branch agency into conducting our due diligence. The job of assessing and investigating a nominee’s qualifications in order to decide whether to consent to the nomination is ours, and ours alone.
Second, your request ignores the fact that Dr. Ford has already made her allegations public. The purpose of the background investigation process is to compile information in a confidential manner. Confidentiality permits people to speak freely and candidly about the character and qualifications of the nominee. The White House requires the Senate to keep background investigation files private so that people can speak anonymously to investigators if they so desire. Because Dr. Ford’s allegations are in the public arena, there is no longer a need for a confidential FBI investigation.
In this same letter, Sen. Grassley also fact-checked the Democrats’ claim that their request for an FBI investigation into Ford’s allegation is no different than the way the FBI investigated Anita Hill’s allegation against Clarence Thomas in 1991. He wrote (emphasis in the original):
In 1991, the FBI’s additional investigation into Professor Anita Hill’s allegations occurred when the allegations were still non-public. When the Senate received Professor Hill’s non-public allegations of sexual harassment, then-Chairman Biden expeditiously notified the White House. (That decision sits in sharp contrast to Senator Feinstein’s decision to sit on Dr. Ford’s allegations for more than six weeks.) The White House directed the FBI to conduct a handful of interviews regarding Professor Hill’s allegations. The FBI completed the interviews within a few days. The White House turned the interview reports over to the Senate as a courtesy. The contents of one of those reports was leaked to the public soon after. The hearing was subsequently reopened five days after the allegations were made public.
We are in the same position the Committee was in after Professor Hill’s allegations were leaked. After that leak, we did not ask the FBI to conduct an investigation. Instead, we reopened the hearing and assessed the testimony that was given on our own. As in 1991, it is now up to the Senate to gather and assess the relevant evidence.
On Wednesday, Sen. Grassley also sent a letter to Sen. Feinstein request she provide him and the rest of the Republicans on the Committee a copy of the letter submitted to her by Ford.
Grassley wrote, “My staff has made repeated requests for this document — which has become a significant piece of evidence in Judge Kavanaugh’s confirmation process — but your staff has so far refused to provide a copy of the letter. You are able to share this unredacted copy with all the members of your caucus and their staff, as well as anyone else you choose. The only version we have of this letter is a redacted version contained in the supplemental FBI background investigation file that only senators and a handful of very select staff are authorized to read.”
Grassley then called out Feinstein’s politicization of this process and total disregard for the wellbeing of the accuser, the accused, and her colleagues who want to get at the truth. He wrote (emphasis in the original):
Sexual assault allegations deserve serious attention, and those who make such allegations must be heard. They should not be deployed strategically for political gain. You received this letter approximately seven weeks ago. But the contents of the letter were leaked only last week when it appeared the Senate was about to confirm Judge Kavanaugh. There were numerous opportunities to raise the serious allegations made in the letter during the course of this nomination process. They could have been raised in your closed-door meeting with Judge Kavanaugh on August 20. Sixty-four other senators also met with Judge Kavanaugh prior to his confirmation hearing. These senators could have asked Judge Kavanaugh about these allegations if you had shared the letter.
Your staff could have raised these allegations during routine background investigation phone calls in late-August. Questions about these allegations could have been asked of Judge Kavanaugh during his more than 32 hours of testimony before the Committee over the course of three days. You could have asked him about these allegations during the closed session of his confirmation hearing, where sensitive material can be discussed. But you did not attend the closed session. Finally, these allegations could have been addressed in one of the nearly 1,300 written questions issued to him after the hearing—more written questions to any Supreme Court nominee than all prior Supreme Court nominees combined.
You have said that you didn’t raise Dr. Ford’s allegations previously because you wanted to protect Dr. Ford’s anonymity. But these allegations could have been raised to me, or to Judge Kavanaugh, while protecting Dr. Ford’s anonymity. Indeed, the only version of her letter that I have is the redacted version from the FBI, which protected Dr. Ford’s anonymity. Had Dr. Ford not made her allegations public via the Washington Post over the weekend, I still would not know her identity. The fact is that these allegations could have been raised both within the last seven weeks and in a way that protected Dr. Ford’s anonymity. Instead, you chose to sit on the allegations until a politically opportune moment. I cannot overstate how disappointed I am in this decision. It has caused me to have to reopen the hearings for the fifth day of testimony, when we easily could have—and should have—raised these issues before or during the first four days of the hearing.
Grassley also made clear that the committee would go out of its way to accommodate Ford so that she could provide her testimony in whatever manner was most comfortable for her — even going so far as to send his staff to California to get Ford’s testimony at her home so that she wouldn’t have to travel to D.C. He wrote:
Dr. Ford has asked for the opportunity to be heard in a hearing, and I believe she should have that opportunity. I recognize that testifying publicly about sexual assault allegations may be difficult for Dr. Ford, so I have offered her the opportunity to testify in any of four possible venues: (1) a public hearing; (2) a private hearing; (3) a public staff interview; or (4) a private staff interview. I am even willing to have my staff travel to Dr. Ford in California—or anywhere else—to obtain her testimony.
Later that day, Ford’s lawyer, Debra Katz, sent a letter to Sen. Grassley. Echoing the Senate Democrats’ talking points, Katz demanded an FBI investigation on behalf of her client before she would provide any testimony. Katz also objected to any attempt to make her client “testify at the same table as Judge Kavanaugh” or endure an “interrogation” from senators who don’t believe her.
Katz’s letter stated:
As you know, earlier this summer, Dr. Ford sought to tell her story, in confidence, so that lawmakers would have a fuller understanding of Brett Kavanaugh’s character and history. Only after the details of her experience were leaked did Dr. Ford make the reluctant decision to come forward publicly.
In the 36 hours since her name became public, Dr. Ford has received a stunning amount of support from her community and from fellow citizens across our country. At the same time, however, her worst fears have materialized. She has been the target of vicious harassment and even death threats. As a result of these kind of threats, her family was forced to relocate out of their home. Her email has been hacked, and she has been impersonated online.
While Dr. Ford’s life was being turned upside down, you and your staff scheduled a public hearing for her to testify at the same table as Judge Kavanaugh in front of two dozen U.S. Senators on national television to relive this traumatic and harrowing incident. The hearing was scheduled for six short days from today and would include interrogation by Senators who appear to have made up their minds that she is “mistaken” and “mixed up.” While no sexual assault survivor should be subjected to such an ordeal, Dr. Ford wants to cooperate with the Committee and with law enforcement officials.
As the Judiciary Committee has recognized and done before, an FBI investigation of the incident should be the first step in addressing her allegations. A full investigation by law enforcement officials will ensure that the crucial facts and witnesses in this matter are assessed in a non-partisan manner, and that the Committee is fully informed before conducting any hearing or making any decisions.
Sen. Grassley responded in a letter to Ford’s attorney, in which he solicitously offered her client the option of a private or public hearing and respectfully explained — yet again — why an FBI investigation was wholly unnecessary at this point now that the Senate was conducting its own investigation:
As you know, I have reopened the hearing on Judge Kavanaugh’s nomination in light of Dr. Ford’s allegations. That hearing will begin again on Monday, September 24, at 10:00 a.m. I have invited Dr. Ford to testify regarding her allegations against Judge Kavanaugh. And in recognition of how difficult it can be to discuss allegations of this kind in public, I have also offered her the choice of testifying in either a public or closed session of the hearing. In response to my invitation, however, you wrote yesterday that “an FBI investigation of the incident should be the first step in addressing her allegations.”
I certainly understand and respect Dr. Ford’s desire for an investigation of her allegations. That is precisely what the Senate is doing. That is why our investigators have asked to speak with your client. That is why I have invited Dr. Ford to tell her story to the Senate and, if she so chooses, to the American people. It is not the FBI’s role to investigate a matter such as this. Before nominating an individual to a judicial or executive office, the White House directs the FBI to conduct a background investigation. The FBI compiles information about a prospective nominee and sends it to the White House. The White House then provides FBI background investigation files to the Senate as a courtesy to help us determine whether to confirm a nominee. The FBI does not make a credibility assessment of any information it receives with respect to a nominee. Nor is it tasked with investigating a matter simply because the Committee deems it important. The Constitution assigns the Senate, and only the Senate, with the task of advising the President on his nominee and consenting to the nomination if the circumstances merit. We have no power to commandeer an Executive Branch agency into conducting our due diligence. The job of assessing and investigating a nominee’s qualifications in order to decide whether to consent to the nomination is ours, and ours alone.
I have reopened the hearing because I believe that anyone who comes forward with allegations of sexual assault has a right to be heard, and because it is the Committee’s responsibility to fully evaluate the fitness of a nominee to the Supreme Court. I therefore want to give Dr. Ford an opportunity to tell her story to the Senate and, if she chooses, to the American people. I also want to give Judge Kavanaugh an opportunity to respond to the allegations. By hearing out both Dr. Ford and Judge Kavanaugh, the Committee will endeavor to discover the truth of the matter, and will be better able to make an informed judgment about Judge Kavanaugh’s nomination.
Sen. Grassley then provided Katz with a deadline for confirming that her client would testify:
You have stated repeatedly that Dr. Ford wants to tell her story. I sincerely hope that Dr. Ford will accept my invitation to do so, either privately or publicly, on Monday. In the meantime, my staff would still welcome the opportunity to speak with Dr. Ford at a time and place convenient to her. And I remind you that, consistent with Committee rules, Dr. Ford’s prepared testimony and biography are due to the Committee by 10:00 a.m. on Friday, September 21, if she intends to testify on Monday.
A report by Fox News confirmed Grassley’s assertions that the FBI has no jurisdiction to investigate Ford’s allegations because they do not involve a federal crime. An FBI source told the network, “This is a political issue, not a law enforcement one.”
Another source told Fox News, “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.”
“In an FBI background investigation, the bureau is only responsible for finding information and passing it along, which they have done in the Kavanaugh case, a source said. The source said the FBI would not ‘investigate’ the information found,” Fox News reported.
However, late Wednesday evening, another of Ford’s lawyers, Lisa Banks, issued a new statement that shifted her client’s demands again — now demanding a hearing for “multiple witnesses.”
“[Ford] continues to believe that a full non-partisan investigation of this matter is needed and she is willing to cooperate with the Committee,” Banks’ statement read. “However, the Committee’s stated plan to move forward with a hearing that has only two witnesses is not a fair or good faith investigation; there are multiple witnesses whose names have appeared publicly and should be included in any proceeding.The rush to a hearing is unnecessary, and contrary to the Committee discovering the truth.”
Banks was perhaps alluding to the two other individuals named by Ford as being at the party 35 years ago when the alleged incident occurred. The two men, Mark Judge and Patrick J. Smyth, both issued statements denying any knowledge of the incident and declining any invitation to speak further on the matter.
Mark Judge stated that he had “no recollection of any of the events described” by Ford and that he “never saw Brett act that way.”
In a letter to Sens. Grassley and Feinstein, Smyth wrote, “I am issuing this statement today to make it clear to all involved that I have no knowledge of the party in question; nor do I have any knowledge of the allegations of improper conduct she has leveled against Brett Kavanaugh.”
“To safeguard my own privacy and anonymity, I respectfully request that the Committee accept this statement in response to any inquiry the Committee may have,” he added.
Thursday, September 20, 2018: On Thursday morning, the Senate Judiciary Committee’s official Twitter account tweeted out confirmation that they had contacted and obtained statements “under penalty of felony” from Kavanaugh, Mark Judge, Patrick J. Smyth, and another person who was allegedly at the party where the incident occurred.
In other words, the Committee was, in fact, reaching out to multiple witnesses — including Cristina King Miranda, a classmate of Ford’s who deleted her Facebook post claiming knowledge of the incident and later admitted, “That it happened or not, I have no idea. I can’t say that it did or didn’t.”
The Senate Judiciary Committee’s official account also tweeted that Dr. Ford has yet to respond to their request for an interview, noting that “[h]er attorneys say there needs to be an investigation, which is exactly what the committee has been doing all week.”
Later Thursday Afternoon: One of Ford’s lawyers sent an email to Senate Judiciary Committee members stating that Ford “would be prepared to testify next week” if the committee offers her “terms that are fair and which ensure her safety,” the New York Times reports.
However, the email stated that it is “not possible” for Ford to attend the committee’s scheduled hearing on Monday “and the Committee’s insistence that it occur then is arbitrary in any event.”
The email also emphasized Ford’s “strong preference” that “a full investigation” happen before her testimony.
Late Thursday afternoon, Ford’s attorney Katz had a 30-minute conference call with Republican and Democrat members of the Judiciary Committee to negotiate the “terms” Ford required in exchange for her testimony.
First, no lawyers are allowed to question Ford, only members of the Senate Judiciary Committee. The Post reports that Katz is concerned that “the potential of an outside counsel coming in to question Ford” would “would be too much like a trial.”
Second, Kavanaugh cannot be in the hearing room when Ford gives her testimony.
Third, Kavanaugh must give his testimony first, without the benefit of hearing the testimony of his accuser.
Fourth, Ford wants the Senate Judiciary Committee to subpoena Mark Judge to testify.
Finally, Katz suggested that Thursday, rather than Monday, “would be a good hearing date.”
This last request has great political significance because pushing the hearing to Thursday would mean Kavanaugh could not be confirmed in time to join the Supreme Court for its new session on October 1, as Republicans and the White House hope. (Breitbart’s Joel Pollak explains why here.)
Fox News reports that it “would be highly unusual for a witness before a Senate committee to dictate who receives a subpoena as a precondition to testifying.” However, CNN reporter Manu Raju tweeted that these demands were “mostly asks and appear to be negotiable.”
Before his rally in Las Vegas, NV, on Thursday evening, President Trump told Fox News’s Sean Hannity that he doesn’t think the hearings should be delayed any further if Ford refuses to appear on Monday.
“I don’t think you can delay it any longer. They’ve delayed it a week already,” Trump said. “They have to get on with it.”
Friday, September 21, 2018: The Senate Judiciary Committee has yet to respond to Ford’s lawyer’s demands.
CNN reports that the Republican possible counter-offer to Ford includes a Wednesday hearing; Ford will testify first, followed by Kavanaugh; and questions will be asked by an independent counsel.
Update: NBC News also reports on the GOP’s counter-offer to Ford, including the new detail that only two witnesses will be called and the Committee will “pick a lawyer for question” Ford.
Politico reports that the Senate Judiciary Committee is giving Ford the end of the day Friday to accept this counter-offer.
A Republican senator on the Committee told Politico, “We’ll do [the hearing] on Wednesday, we expect [to hear] the accuser before the accused, and we do intend to have the counsel do the questioning.”
The source also said the Committee agreed to Ford’s request to have only one camera at the hearing and for Kavanaugh not to be in the same room with her.
Republican Committee members discussed this on a Friday morning conference call, according to Politico, “[a]nd barring new revelations, the party plans to vote on Kavanaugh’s nomination in Judiciary Committee shortly after hearing [Ford’s] testimony next week.”
A senior Democratic Senate aide told Politico that the GOP’s offer of a Wednesday hearing date is one of several “nonstarters with Democrats and Ford’s camp” because they “had made clear that [Ford] could not be in the capital to testify before Thursday.”
The Democratic aide accused the GOP of “making this disingenuous counter-offer knowing she won’t be here.”
“Ford does not want to fly from her California home to Washington,” a Republican senator told Politico, and therefore “she may need to drive across the country to make the hearing. Ford has reportedly told friends she is uncomfortable in confined spaces, indicating a physical difficulty in making the trip by plane.”
Update: The 5:00 p.m. deadline for Ford and her lawyers to respond to the GOP’s counter-offer has now expire. No word yet on whether they have accepted.
Update: The Washington Post reports that the deadline has now been extended to 10:00 p.m.
Update: Sen. Grassley issued a statement Friday evening extending the deadline to 10 p.m. for Ford’s lawyers to respond the Committee’s offer and making it clear that if they do not respond, the Committee will proceed with a vote on Monday.
Grassley’s statement reads:
Despite the fact that the July 30th letter remains hidden, my committee has been investigating the allegations and has heard from multiple witnesses since Sunday. Ms. Katz has discussed Dr. Ford’s allegations in numerous media interviews and said on TV Monday morning that Dr. Ford wants to share her account with the Senate Judiciary Committee. It’s Friday night and nothing’s been agreed to despite our extensive efforts to make testimony possible. I’m extending the deadline for response yet again to 10 o’clock this evening. I’m providing a notice of a vote to occur Monday in the event that Dr. Ford’s attorneys don’t respond or Dr. Ford decides not to testify. In the event that we can come to a reasonable resolution as I’ve been seeking all week, then I will postpone the committee vote to accommodate her testimony. We cannot continue to delay.
The Senate Judiciary Committee also posted the full proposal sent to Ford’s lawyers explaining the Committee’s response to her various demands.
The proposal reads:
Dear Ms. Katz and Ms. Banks:I am writing in response to your conditions under which your client, Dr. Christine Blasey Ford, is willing to testify as to her allegations of sexual assault by Judge Brett Kavanaugh while the two individuals were in high school more than 35 years ago. On behalf of Chairman Chuck Grassley, I want to reiterate that the Senate Judiciary Committee considers these serious allegations and wants to honor Dr. Ford’s request to testify. We are committed to providing a secure and respectful setting for her testimony. The Chairman fully agrees with Dr. Ford that we cannot have another “media circus.” The Chairman has offered the ability for Dr. Ford to testify in an open session, a closed session, a public staff interview, and a private staff interview. The Chairman is even willing to fly female staff investigators to meet Dr. Ford and you in California, or anywhere else, to obtain Dr. Ford’s testimony.Sometime before last Sunday, September 16, your client described her allegations to a reporter for the Washington Post, which published the allegations that Sunday. This was the first time that the Chairman or his staff learned of Dr. Ford’s identity. Dr. Ford had made these allegations privately to her elected representatives, including Senator Feinstein, who was aware of these allegations since July. Neither Senator Feinstein nor her staff asked Judge Kavanaugh about these allegations despite having numerous opportunities to do so, including in a closed-door meeting between the senator and the nominee, during confidential phone calls with Judge Kavanaugh regarding his background, during three days and more than 32 hours of testimony at his public confirmation hearing two weeks ago, during a closed session of that hearing when sensitive information could be discussed—which Senator Feinstein did not attend—or when senators issued Judge Kavanaugh nearly 1,300 written questions after his confirmation hearing, more written questions submitted than were submitted to all previous Supreme Court nominees combined. Senator Feinstein also could have referred these allegations anonymously and confidentially to the FBI when she was made aware of them. That would have protected her anonymity, as Dr. Ford requested.These actions were profoundly unfair to both parties. Judge Kavanaugh has unequivocally denied Dr. Ford’s allegations. He should have been given the opportunity to say so directly to Senator Feinstein had he been made aware of serious allegations against him. And 64 other senators met with Judge Kavanaugh before his hearing. If Senator Feinstein had made them aware of these serious allegations, those senators could have also questioned Judge Kavanaugh. Dr. Ford requested that her allegations remain confidential. Instead, this confidential information leaked due to the actions of Democratic offices on the Judiciary Committee, and the allegations are now in the public arena, contrary to Dr. Ford’s wishes. The media circus and eleventh-hour intrigue could have been avoided if my colleagues and their staff treated these allegations seriously and responsibly. I’m afraid their actions have undermined the dignity of these proceedings.Chairman Grassley, when he became aware of Dr. Ford’s allegations last Sunday, instructed his staff to begin an immediate investigation. The next day, Ms. Katz went on morning shows asking that the Committee hold a public hearing so that Dr. Ford may offer her testimony. The Committee immediately honored that request, scheduling a hearing for one week later. Chairman Grassley informed you that the hearing could be public or private and that Dr. Ford could also choose to have a public or private staff interview with Democratic and Republican staff.The next day, you withdrew your request for a hearing until the FBI conducted an investigation. The FBI, however, issued a statement that it considered the matter closed. The Senate does not have the authority to direct an Executive Branch department to conduct further investigation. Moreover, the Senate has a constitutional obligation to conduct its own investigations. Chairman Grassley’s staff has tried to work with Democratic staff to conduct an investigation, but they have so far refused to participate. On Monday, September 17, Chairman Grassley’s staff interviewed Judge Kavanaugh under penalty of felony. Democratic staff was invited to participate, and they could have asked any question they wanted to, but they declined. Judge Kavanaugh was forthright and emphatic in his testimony. He fully answered all questions. Chairman Grassley’s staff also contacted three alleged witnesses named by Dr. Ford and obtained two statements under penalty of perjury. These witnesses directly contradict Professor Ford’s allegations against Judge Kavanaugh.Yesterday, you issued ten demands to us regarding the conditions under which Dr. Ford is willing to testify. Consistent with our sincere desire to hear Dr. Ford’s testimony in her preferred setting—while, at the same time, respecting fundamental notions of due process and Committee practice—we are willing to meet you halfway. You demanded that we not hold the hearing on Monday because Dr. Ford needs time to prepare her testimony. Because Dr. Ford’s testimony will concern only her personal knowledge of events, events which she already described to the Washington Post, holding a hearing more than one week after she aired these allegations is more than reasonable. We will nevertheless reschedule the hearing for later in the week, as you requested. The Committee will take Dr. Ford’s and Judge Kavanaugh’s testimony on Wednesday, September 26.We deplore that Dr. Ford has faced serious threats and harassment over the past week, and we will make every effort to guarantee her safety. At the same time, Judge Kavanaugh and his family, including his two young daughters, have also faced serious death threats and vicious assaults as a result of these allegations. And they’re getting worse each day. Judge Kavanaugh unequivocally and categorically denied these allegations. He was willing to testify last week after the allegations were made publicly, and he already accepted our invitation to testify on Monday. It is not fair to him or to his family to allow this situation to continue without a resolution and without an opportunity for him to clear his name. Holding the hearing on Wednesday honors your request for a later hearing date while recognizing that Judge Kavanaugh is entitled to due process. It is the fairest option for both parties.We also accept some of your other demands. You demanded that Judge Kavanaugh not be in the hearing room during Dr. Ford’s testimony. We have no objection to that.You demanded that only one camera be permitted in the hearing room and that there be limited press access. We have no objection to that.You demanded that the number of rounds and minutes per round of questions be equal for all senators. We have no objection to that.You demanded that Dr. Ford be given adequate breaks during her testimony. We of course have no objection to that.You also expressed concerns about Dr. Ford’s safety and that the Senate provide adequate security. This, of course, we will do. The Capitol Police offers more than adequate security. The Senate hosts the President, Vice President, Cabinet secretaries, heads of state, and other prominent public figures all the time with the necessary precautions.Some of your other demands, however, are unreasonable and we are unable to accommodate them. You demanded that Judge Kavanaugh be the first person to testify. Accommodating this demand would be an affront to fundamental notions of due process. In the United States, an individual accused of a crime is entitled to a presumption of innocence. And, further, the accused has the right to respond to allegations that are made about him. Judge Kavanaugh cannot be expected to respond to allegations that have been made to the press. He is entitled to hear the full, detailed testimony of Dr. Ford before he testifies. You have indicated that Dr. Ford has allegations that she would like to make in public and under oath. She will have the opportunity to do so before we give Judge Kavanaugh the opportunity to respond.You also demanded that only senators be permitted to ask questions of the witnesses. We are also unable to accommodate this demand. There is no rule of the Senate or the Committee that precludes staff attorneys from asking witnesses questions. We reserve the option to have female staff attorneys, who are sensitive to the particulars of Dr. Ford’s allegations and are experienced investigators, question both witnesses. We believe this will allow for informed questioning, will generate the most insightful testimony, and will help de-politicize the hearing.You demanded that the Committee issue subpoenas for the testimony of Mark Judge and other unidentified witnesses. The Committee is unable to accommodate this demand. The Committee does not take subpoena requests from witnesses as a condition of their testimony. You went on television earlier this week and said Dr. Ford wants the chance to tell her story in public and under oath. This is the opportunity we have given her. We don’t need to subpoena additional witnesses to do that.You demanded that the Committee call additional witnesses that Dr. Ford requests. We are unable to accommodate this demand. The Committee does not take witness requests from other witnesses. Mark Judge and one other alleged witness to the events Dr. Ford has described have already denied the allegations under penalty of felony to the Committee. We can obtain additional testimony through staff interviews, obtaining statements, or other means that are subject to penalties of felony, if necessary.This Committee has been extremely accommodating to your client. We want to hear Dr. Ford’s testimony and are prepared to accommodate many of your demands, including further delaying a hearing that is currently scheduled for Monday. We are unwilling to accommodate your unreasonable demands. Outside counsel may not dictate the terms under which Committee business will be conducted.
Rebecca Mansour is a senior editor-at-large for Breitbart News and the host of Breitbart News Tonight on SiriusXM’s Patriot channel 125, weeknights from 9pm to midnight Eastern (6pm to 9pm Pacific). Follow her on Twitter at @RAMansour.