WASHINGTON ― Senior Republican staffers on the Senate Judiciary Committee knew last week that more sexual misconduct allegations were about to come out against Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh, but tried to speed up his confirmation process instead of slowing it down to investigate, say two senior Senate Democratic aides familiar with committee discussions.
One aide said it is “100 percent true” that this is why, last week, committee chairman Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) unexpectedly scheduled Kavanaugh’s follow-up hearing for Monday instead of Thursday (it got pushed back to Thursday anyway). Whether Grassley knew of the coming allegations, or senior staff knew and pressed him to expedite the session, is unclear.
The second aide couldn’t directly link GOP staffers’ knowledge of the coming allegations to Grassley’s decision to expedite the hearing, but said it was “widely known” among top aides that The New Yorker was about to report new allegations. GOP staffers were “factoring that into their strategic thinking about how to move forward,” the aide said.
Both Democratic aides requested anonymity in order to speak freely.
Republican senators on the committee, including Grassley, insist they didn’t know about The New Yorker story on Deborah Ramirez’s allegations until it broke on Sunday. That means senior GOP staffers either knew about the coming allegations and didn’t tell GOP senators, or they did communicate it to senators and someone isn’t telling the truth.
Grassley spokesman Taylor Foy said he moved up Kavanaugh’s hearing to Monday because the attorney for his first accuser, Palo Alto University professor Christine Blasey Ford, “was all over TV the previous Monday” saying Ford wanted to testify before the committee.
“The hearing was scheduled immediately in order to afford her that opportunity without delay,” said Foy.
He did not clarify if Grassley knew that more Kavanaugh allegations were coming before The New Yorker story hit.
Ramirez, who went to Yale University with Kavanaugh, alleges that he waved his penis in her face against her will. Her allegations come after Ford alleged that Kavanaugh sexually assaulted her in high school, pinning her down on a bed and covering her mouth when she tried to scream. Kavanaugh has denied all allegations.
The New Yorker piece touches on the fact that Republican staffers knew about the allegations last week. It notes that some “expressed concern” about the effect they could have on Kavanaugh’s nomination ― and that, soon after, GOP senators made a new push to speed up Kavanaugh’s vote.
Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.), a member of the Judiciary Committee, tweeted Wednesday that it was “imperative” to hurry up and vote on Kavanaugh.
Asked Monday if this was because Graham knew The New Yorker story was coming, spokesman Kevin Bishop said no and that Graham learned about the new allegations on Sunday along with everyone else.
“No,” said Bishop. “You need better sources.”
Sen. Mike Lee (R-Utah), also a member of the Judiciary Committee, didn’t know about the coming allegations either, according to his office.
“No one on our staff had any hint of the Ramirez story before the Drudge link,” said his spokesman, Conn Carroll. Drudge Report sent an alert Sunday that the New Yorker story was about to be published.
This story has been updated with comment from Grassley’s spokesman.