Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) demanded on Tuesday that Christine Blasey Ford’s attorneys provide additional materials about her sexual assault accusation against Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh, The Wall Street Journal reported.
In a letter to the attorneys, Grassley declared that Ford has “put Judge Kavanaugh on trial before the nation.”
Grassley requested to see the notes Ford’s therapist took in a session in which she detailed the alleged attack, a recording of a lie detector test she took and copies of her exchanges with news media.
Ford, now a psychology professor, maintains that Kavanaugh pinned her down and attempted to remove her clothing while grinding against her at a party in 1982. The chairman’s request comes five days after she shared her story in a widely televised committee hearing.
Grassley accused Ford’s attorneys of withholding the information, according to The Wall Street Journal, which viewed the two-page letter.
In response, her attorneys Lisa Banks and Debra Katz told the chairman that Ford “is prepared to provide” all the requested information in an interview with the FBI, which for one week has reopened its background investigation into Kavanaugh in light of her accusations against him. As the clock ticks, the attorneys say Ford has not yet been contacted by the FBI.
Portions of the therapist’s notes were included in a Sept. 16 Washington Post report on the alleged attack. Ford chose to show the paper the notes to bolster her claim. Although they do not mention Kavanaugh by name, the notes say she was attacked by teens “from an elitist boys’ school” who went on to become “highly respected and high-ranking members of society in Washington.” She has said that Mark Judge, a friend of Kavanaugh’s, was also in the room at the time.
She discussed the alleged assault in a 2012 therapy session with her husband after her anxiety ― which she believes stems from the alleged attack ― interfered with a home renovation.
Notes from an individual therapy session in 2013 describe a “rape attempt” in Ford’s teens.
Critics, including Grassley, have used slight discrepancies between the therapist’s notes and Ford’s testimony to suggest that the episode did not happen as she says it did. In one instance, the therapist wrote that the alleged rape attempt happened in Ford’s “late” teens. She told the committee she was 15 years old at the time.
The American Psychiatric Association acknowledges that due process may require psychiatric records be used in some court cases. Kavanaugh’s confirmation process, however, is not a formal judicial hearing.
“This is a very unique setting that we’re dealing with here,” Brown University clinical psychiatry professor Patricia Recupero told HuffPost.
Recupero said a full disclosure of Ford’s mental health records would be “inappropriate.”
“Her mental state at the time she was seeing the therapist for help was not in question and is not a relevant component of the inquiry,” Recupero said. In her view, the notes Ford provided simply serve to corroborate Ford’s claim that she told her therapist about the alleged attack years before Kavanaugh’s nomination.
“Allowing people to delve into the therapist’s records without due cause will inhibit people from getting help,” Recupero added.
Providing confidential medical records to a partisan group of senators could be a privacy risk for Ford, who has received numerous death threats since she publicly accused Kavanaugh.
Paul Appelbaum, a Columbia University psychiatry, medicine and law professor, told HuffPost that Ford could reduce her risk by allowing an independent third party to review the records and redact any information not relevant to the issue at hand. In a typical court proceeding, he said, a judge would likely do so.
While that could help protect her, “I think she’d need to assume that anything actually provided to the senators would no longer be confidential,” Appelbaum added in an email.
This story has been updated with comment from Christine Blasey Ford’s attorneys.