Kavanaugh and alleged victim of assault to testify before Senate panel
A handful of Connecticut female candidates joined other Democrats Monday calling for an investigation into the complaint that Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh sexually assaulted a 15-year-old girl at a high school party decades ago.
Their wish was granted Monday evening when the chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, bending to calls from Democrats and several key Republicans, announced that a hearing on the assault allegations would take place Monday, Sept. 24, with Kavanaugh and his accuser, Christine Blasey Ford, as witnesses.
This was likely welcome news to female Democratic candidates like Susan Bysiewicz, a candidate for lieutenant governor, who called Kavanaugh’s alleged conduct “disturbing, disgusting, and disqualifying” in a statement Monday.
Bysiewicz urged Congress “to get to the bottom of these sexual assault allegations before continuing with this nomination.”
The allegations against Kavanaugh have upended what was once considered a sure path to confirmation.
Jahana Hayes, the Democratic candidate for the 5th District congressional seat, had also called for a congressional inquiry. Democrats have long tried to stall Kavanaugh’s confirmation, which would tilt the Supreme Court to the right for decades.
“It is unreasonable for any elected official to proceed with this confirmation without hearing and obtaining all of the facts,” Hayes said.
Christine Blasey Ford on Sunday told The Washington Post that in the early 1980s, Kavanaugh and a friend — both “stumbling drunk” — corralled her into a bedroom during a gathering of teenagers at a house in Montgomery County, Md. Ford said Kavanaugh pinned her to the bed, groped her, tried to take off her clothes and put his hand over her mouth when she tried to scream. Ford said she was 15-years-old at the time and that Kavanaugh was 17.
Kavanaugh has denied that the assault ever happened.
“I have never done anything like what the accuser describes — to her or to anyone,” Kavanaugh said in a statement. “Because this never happened, I had no idea who was making this accusation until she identified herself yesterday.”
Ford had written about the incident to several lawmakers, including Sen. Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif., who gave the letter to the FBI last week. Ford said she wanted to remain anonymous but decided to come forward after her story was leaked to other news outlets.
“We cannot allow the Republicans to ram through this lifetime appointment without fully listening to the woman who was brave enough to tell her story,” said Rep. Liz Linehan, D-Cheshire, who has shared details of her own experience as a victim of sexual harassment and assault.
Connecticut Democratic officials also joined their counterparts in Washington D.C. Monday in calling for a pause in confirmation proceedings.
These allegations must be heard, and we must do everything we can to combine our voices to ensure that they are heard,” said Nancy DiNardo, Connecticut Democratic Party DNC Member.
Connecticut Democratic Party Executive Director Mandi Lewis said, “We’ve already seen rumblings that Republicans’ plan is to attack the credibility of the brave woman who came forward.”
Some Republicans have called the accusations an “11th hour ” smear of the nominee.
A vote in the Senate Judiciary Committee, which held four days of confirmation hearings, was scheduled for Thursday.
But Ford’s story prompted at least four Republican senators, Jeff Flake of Arizona, Bob Corker of Tennessee, Roy Blunt of Missouri, and Susan Collins of Maine to call for a pause on the nomination.
Now instead of a Senate Judiciary Committee confirmation vote, Kavanaugh will sit in the hot seat again as a witness before 11 Republican senators, who will likely be sympathetic, and 10 Democrats, including Sen. Richard Blumenthal, D-Conn., who likely will not.
Trump on Monday praised the nominee as “one of the finest people that anybody has known.”
But the president also signaled that he supports holding a hearing on the allegations.
“We want to go through a full process,” Trump said. “If it takes a little delay, it’ll take a little delay… It will, I’m sure, work out very well.”
Kavanaugh planned a phone call to all Senate Judiciary Committee Republican staff late Monday.
All Democrats on the panel — including Sen. Richard Blumenthal — issued a statement saying they opposed hearing from the nominee thought this process.
“In view of the enormity and seriousness of these allegations, a staff-only phone call behind closed doors is unacceptable and Democratic staff will not participate,” the Democratic statement said. ” This isn’t how things should be done and is in complete violation of how this committee has worked in the past.”
Blumenthal and his fellow Judiciary Committee Democrats also wrote White House Counsel Don McGahn late Monday insisting on a reopening of Kavanaugh’s FBI background check.
“It is our understanding that the FBI conducts background investigations of nominees at the White House’s request,” the senators wrote. ” Accordingly, the president can request an appropriate follow-up, even after a background investigation may be closed. We ask that the president immediately do so here.”
Earlier in the day, Blumenthal had tweeted that a new FBI investigation should be conducted before a Senate hearing on the assault allegations were held.
“Only a full, fair FBI investigation, including sworn interviews with all relevant witnesses & review of all documents, is an acceptable next step,” Blumenthal tweeted. “It must precede any staff interviews or any possible additional hearings.”
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