Dr. Christine Blasey Ford has offered to testify before the Senate Judiciary Committee regarding her allegation that Brett Kavanaugh sexually assaulted her when they were teenagers. Before she does so, however, Ford’s attorney has asked that the FBI review the issues she has raised regarding Kavanaugh’s suitability to sit on the nation’s highest court.
This is, by any measure, a reasonable request. Ford is literally inviting a federal investigation into the allegations she has made. She is asking that the investigation be undertaken prior to the Senate’s political consideration of the matter. There is precedent for this. In 1991, when law professor Anita Hill’s sexual-harassment allegations against Supreme Court nominee Clarence Thomas were revealed at a later stage in his confirmation process, a spokeswoman for then-President Bush announced that “in consultation with the committee, the White House promptly directed the FBI to conduct a full, thorough and expeditious investigation.” As Senate Democrats remind us, reopened Judiciary Committee hearings in 1991 took place “after the White House directed the FBI to conduct an immediate investigation and that investigation was completed.”
In regard to the Kavanaugh case, Anita Hill argues now that an FBI investigation is “absolutely…the right move.” She says: “The hearing questions need to have a frame, and the investigation is the best frame for that; a neutral investigation that can pull together the facts, create a record, so that the senators can draw on the information they receive to develop their questions.”
Unfortunately, Senate Judiciary Committee chairman Chuck Grassley (R-IA) has chosen to play politics rather than to pursue the facts. Grassley is demanding that Ford bend to his demand for an all-or-nothing hearing on Monday or risk losing the chance to testify.