McConnell: 'Pretty Obvious This Is All About Delaying the Process'

By Susan Jones | September 19, 2018 | 5:51am EDT
Senate Republican leaders hold a news conference to discuss Monday's scheduled hearing of the Judiciary Committee. (Photo: Screen capture/C-SPAN)

( - Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) told a news conference Tuesday that Judge Brett Kavanaugh's accuser "certainly does deserve a right to be heard," but at the same time, he called it "disturbing" that Democrats decided to withhold her accusation until the last minute.

Later, an attorney for the accuser, told CNN's Anderson Cooper her client "is prepared to cooperate with the committee" -- but not on Monday, and not until the FBI does a full investigation. "There shouldn't be a rush to a hearing," attorney Lisa Banks said.

And Christine Blasey Ford, through her attorneys, sent a letter to Committee Chairman Chuck Grassley on Tuesday, saying in part that "no sexual assault survivor should be subjected" to the ordeal of testifying on national television about such a "traumatic and harrowing incident."

The alleged incident happened some 36 years ago; no one else has corroborated the story; and Ford herself cannot remember details of where the alleged attack took place or how she got home or even when exactly it happened.

Speaking Tuesday, McConnell said: "As you now know, the Judiciary Committee majority has decided to call a hearing for Monday to give Dr. Ford an opportunity to be heard, and (I) anticipate, obviously, they will handle this in a fair manner.


"It is still disturbing, however, to think about the way in which this has developed right at the end. The ranking member of the Judiciary Committee had notice of this for quite some time and decided to spring it right at the end, and it's pretty obvious this is all about delaying the process. But the accuser certainly does deserve a right to be heard, and we're looking forward to hearing what she has to say on Monday.

"Judge Kavanaugh, as you know, has been anxious to testify and I'm sure he'll be here as well," McConnell added.

Sen. John Cornyn (R-Texas) noted that as of Tuesday afternoon, Christine Blasey Ford's lawyers had refused to respond to invitations to participate in Monday's scheduled hearing.

"But we certainly hope that she takes advantage of this opportunity if she still would like to. If she'd prefer to do this in a closed setting that's her choice, but we've offered her basically either an open or closed setting," Cornyn said.

A reporter asked McConnell if the Judiciary Committee should call witnesses, including Kavanaugh's long-ago friend Mark Judge and Ford's therapist "and maybe others."

"Well, Dr. Ford has talked to the Washington Post, indicated she wants to talk to the committee and we're going to give her that opportunity on Monday," McConnell responded. "There have been multiple investigations. Judge Kavanaugh has been through six FBI investigations in the course of his lengthy public career. We want to give the accuser an opportunity to be heard and that opportunity will occur next Monday."

On Tuesday night, speaking to CNN's Anderson Cooper, Ford’s attorney Lisa Banks amplified on Ford’s letter to Grassley:

"No investigation -- any legitimate investigation is going to happen between now and Monday. This is going to take some time. And what needs to happen is there shouldn't be a rush to a hearing here. There's no reason to do that."

Banks also said, "It's premature to talk about a hearing on Monday. People understand that. She has been dealing with the threats, the harassment and the safety of her family. That's what she's been focused on for the last two days and will continue to be focused on that.

"So asking her to come forward in four or five days and sit before the Judiciary Committee on national TV is not a fair process. And if they care about doing the right thing here and treating this seriously, as they have said, then they will do the right thing and they will properly investigate this. And she will work with them in that investigation and also to share her story with the committee. However that happens," Banks added.

McConnell said Ford has been asking for the opportunity to be heard, "and she's going to be given the opportunity to be heard on Monday." He also noted that she doesn't have to tell her story on  national television.

Committee Chairman Grassley responded to Ford’s letter this way:

Contrary to suggestions by Dr. Ford’s attorneys, the committee had no plans to place Dr. Ford and Judge Kavanaugh on a panel together, and never indicated plans to do so. Grassley’s staff offered Dr. Ford multiple dates as well as a choice of providing information in a public or private setting.

Ranking Member Feinstein first received a letter with allegations against Judge Brett Kavanaugh from Dr. Ford in July. However, Feinstein neglected to notify Committee Republicans of the letter until the day of the first Committee markup, six weeks after receiving the letter and well after the vetting and hearing process had concluded. Feinstein referred the letter to the FBI, which added it to Kavanaugh’s background investigation file. She should have treated these allegations seriously, as Grassley has done, in immediately acting upon hearing of them.

The FBI has indicated to the committee and in public statements that it considers the matter closed. The FBI does not make credibility determinations. The FBI provides information on a confidential basis in order for decision makers to determine an individual’s suitability. The Senate has the information it needs to follow up with witnesses and gather and assess the relevant evidence.

Grassley’s staff has sought to work with the Democratic staff to reach out to relevant witnesses. The Democratic staff declined to participate in a follow-up call with Judge Kavanaugh Monday regarding these allegations. And they have declined to join efforts to conduct a bipartisan investigation of the allegations.


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