Grassley Chides Feinstein: I Still Don't Have the Unredacted Letter; You Could Have Shared It With Me Earlier

By Susan Jones | September 20, 2018 | 7:43am EDT
Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Charles Grassley (R-Iowa) talks with ranking member Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) during the third day of confirmation hearings for Supreme Court nominee Judge Brett Kavanaugh. (Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)

( - The apparently cordial relationship between Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Chuck Grassley and ranking Member Dianne Feinstein is showing signs of strain.

On Wednesday, Grassley sent a letter to Feinstein, asking her to give him an unredacted copy of the July 30 letter that she received from Christine Blasey Ford, in which she alleges sexual misconduct 36 years ago by Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh.

"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," Grassley wrote.

"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."

Grassley told Feinstein she can share the unredacted letter with "anyone you choose." She's already shared it with her fellow Democrats and their staff.

Grassley also said that sexual assault allegations "deserve serious attention"; the accuser "must be heard"; and the allegations "should not be deployed strategically for political gain."

He noted that Feinstein received the letter from Ford around 7 weeks ago, but the contents were leaked only after Kavanaugh's nomination was heading for a committee vote.

Grassley listed the many opportunities Feinstein had to "raise the serious allegations" with Kavanaugh:

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.

Grassley has asked both Ford and Kavanaugh to testify on Monday. "They have until this Friday at 10 a.m. to let us know whether they are coming," he wrote. Grassley also told Feinstein he has offered Ford four options: a public hearing; a private hearing; a public staff interview; or 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."

Grassley said Kavanaugh "immediately agreed to cooperate," and "he sat for a transcribed interview, under penalty of felony, on Monday.

"He fully, candidly, and unequivocally answered all questions. We have no reason to doubt the truthfulness of Judge Kavanaugh’s testimony. Judge Kavanaugh volunteered to come back to a public hearing," Grassley said.

Democrat staffers were invited to participate in that interview, but they declined.

Grassley ended where he began: "In order to prepare for Monday’s hearing, and any discussions with Dr. Ford that occur before then, I must review the unredacted letter that Dr. Ford sent to you, dated July 30, 2018. I ask that you send me a copy of the original, unredacted letter immediately."

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