WASHINGTON ― All 10 Democrats on the Senate Judiciary Committee on Monday called for a delay of the committee vote on Judge Brett Kavanaugh’s Supreme Court nomination, which is scheduled for Thursday, in light of the sexual assault allegation made against him.
Sen. Joe Donnelly (D-Ind.), a red-state Democrat who is facing a tough re-election fight this year, also said the committee should hold off on voting until it can review what he called “serious” allegations leveled against Kavanaugh, an appellate court judge.
The fresh calls on Monday followed similar statements over the weekend from key Republicans like Lisa Murkowski of Alaska, Jeff Flake of Arizona and Bob Corker of Tennessee, exerting more pressure on Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) to delay the proceedings.
Grassley said in a statement on Monday that he is “working diligently to get to the bottom of these claims” as well as to find a way to hear from Kavanaugh’s accuser, Christine Blasey Ford, in “an appropriate, precedented and respectful manner.” The chairman did not, however, address the possibility of inviting either Kavanaugh or Ford to testify in a public setting.
Grassley’s spokesperson Taylor Foy said Sunday that the vote had not been rescheduled, according to Washington Post reporter Seung Min Kim.
Ford identified herself in a Washington Post interview published Sunday as the author of a confidential letter, sent in late July to two members of Congress, in which she accuses Kavanaugh of sexually assaulting her in high school in the 1980s. She is willing to tell her story publicly, her lawyer, Debra Katz, said Monday on NBC’s “Today” show.
The White House issued a fresh statement from Kavanaugh shortly afterward, again denying what he called a “completely false” allegation. He said he would be willing to talk to the committee “in any way” it deems appropriate to “defend my integrity.”
Grassley’s office had said Sunday that the committee was working to set up a time for a staff call with Ford. But Democrats say that staff calls ― normally routine for most Supreme Court nominees ― aren’t the appropriate way to handle the matter.
“Rushing this through is not treating someone fairly,” Sen. Dick Durbin (D-Ill.) told CNN on Monday. “Doing this in a conference call, as opposed to her offer to come forward and say things publicly is certainly not fair. We need to postpone the scheduled vote until we get to the bottom of this.”
Sen. Susan Collins (R-Maine) appeared to agree that a closer examination is needed, tweeting on Monday, “Professor Ford and Judge Kavanaugh should both testify under oath before the Judiciary Committee.”
This story has been updated with comment from Sen. Grassley.