Judiciary Committee Chairman Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) opened a historic hearing, in which a woman would be forced to relive an alleged sexual assault for the world, by lamenting that Democrats made the allegations public so late in the game.
Minutes before Dr. Christine Blasey Ford began a tearful, wrenching account of sexual assault, in which she alleged Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh pinned her to a bed and forcibly groped her, Sen. Grassley took aim at Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) and Senate Democrats, and offered that the FBI already investigated Kavanaugh and found nothing.
“Nowhere in any of these six FBI reports … was there a whiff of any issue, any issue at all related to inappropriate sexual behavior,” Grassley said.
Feinstein had forwarded a letter detailing allegations against Kavanaugh on Sept. 13 — at the time, its contents weren’t public. At the time, Feinstein was lambasted for withholding the document from other committee members. She says she did so at Blasey’s request.
“When I received Dr. Ford’s letter on Sept. 13, my staff and I recognized the seriousness of those allegations and immediately began our committee’s investigation,” Grassley said. “Every step of the way, the Democratic side refused to participate in what should’ve been a bipartisan investigation.”
He said he wished the committee had more time to investigate the allegations, and that it’s the Democrats’ fault that they don’t.
“Only at an 11th hour, on the eve of Judge Kavanaugh’s confirmation vote, did the ranking member refer the allegations to the FBI. And then the allegations were leaked to the press. That’s where Dr. [Blasey] Ford was mistreated.”
Feinstein took the mic next, firing at Grassley for not introducing Blasey properly and noting that Blasey hadn’t wanted to make these allegations public.
“She reiterated that she wanted this confidential,” Feinstein said. “How women are treated in the United States with this kind of concern is really wanting a lot of reform. In the meantime, good morning, Dr. Ford, thank you for coming forward and being willing to share your story with us.”
She also noted allegations that were made by two of Kavanaugh’s alleged victims who weren’t testifying today: Deborah Ramirez and Julie Swetnick.
“I’m sorry you brought up about the unsubstantiated allegations of other people,” Grassley said.
His frustration seems to fly in the face of his own words during a hearing in 1991, when Anita Hill famously came forward with allegations of sexual harassment in front of an all-white panel of male senators. Back then, he said the “11th hour allegations” should be investigated and heard properly.
“People are asking how we could have let your statements slip past us? Those are valid questions. I’m going to work toward ensuring this never happens again,” Grassley said back then. “I want to establish a new ground rule. Whenever the FBI is dispatched every committee member should be notified of the allegation. And when the FBI has finished its work, every committee member should be notified and have access to that report. A rule like this should ensure once and for all that even an 11th-hour charge like yours should be fully considered.”