Judiciary Democrat calls for additional witnesses to testify on Kavanaugh

Judiciary Committee Dem. Sen. Chris CoonsChristopher (Chris) Andrew CoonsSenators prepare for possibility of Christmas in Washington during a shutdown Dem senator: Trump 'seems more rattled than usual' Dem: 'Disheartening' that Republicans who 'stepped up' to defend Mueller are leaving MORE (Del.) wants additional witnesses to testify in an upcoming hearing about sexual assault allegations against Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh.

"I think if we’re going to go ahead with a Monday hearing at the very least we should have Mark Judge testify. And the FBI agent who was responsible for the background investigation,” the Delaware Democrat told reporters Tuesday.

Christine Blasey Ford last week came forward to accuse Kavanaugh of allegedly attempting to sexually assault her when they were in high school.

Ford also said Kavanuagh's friend Mark Judge was in the room at the time.

Coons explained that Judge, a former classmate of Kavanaugh, is "called out by Dr. Ford in her letter as the other person in the room, and I think if you’ve got someone who is an identified participant in this assault …it seems completely appropriate that he be called to testify.”

Kavanaugh has denied the allegations, but the Judiciary committee delayed his confirmation vote and has asked both the judge and Ford to testify about the alleged incident on Monday.

Coons said he also wants to know from the FBI: "Why wasn’t this surfaced? Were questions asked about this incident? Was there any awareness of any other allegations that maybe didn’t come in front of the committee?"

"My hope was that the FBI would be engaged in thorough background check on these allegations," he said.

Several Republicans have joined Democrats in calling for more investigation.

“These are strong allegations, they should be listened to, they should be taken seriously. Dr. Ford should be given opportunity, in a respectful and dignified setting to provide as much info as she's willing to provide," said Republican Sen. Marco RubioMarco Antonio RubioMeet Maduro, Venezuela's copycat dictator Politifact names conspiracies about Parkland students as 2018's 'lie of the year' Republicans skeptical of Trump’s plan to have military build the wall MORE (Fla.). "And [Kavanaugh] deserves the opportunity to respond to it."

According to Judiciary Chairman Charles GrassleyCharles (Chuck) Ernest GrassleyTop security officials issue stark warning of Chinese espionage efforts Lame-duck Congress should pass First Step Act The Hill's Morning Report — Takeaways from the battle royal in the Oval Office MORE (R-Iowa), Ford’s attorney has not responded to emails and calls from his committee to schedule her appearance at the public hearing on Monday.

Asked what happens if Ford fails to appear, Rubio said, "if she doesn’t show up then we don’t have the benefit of that information … in terms of the Senate, we can only make decisions based on info we have."

“I don't criticize her if she decides not to show up. My only wish is that this info had been made available earlier in a setting that would have protected her confidentiality because there would have been more time to consider all of this,” Rubio added.

The Judiciary Committee was set to vote on Kavanaugh’s nomination on Thursday of this week, until Ford revealed herself as the accuser to the Washington Post on Sunday and key GOP senators pressed for a delay and public hearings.

Ford had originally sent a letter to her congresswoman, Rep. Anna EshooAnna Georges EshooRepresenting patients’ voices Dem lawmaker: 'There's plenty of competent females' that can be Speaker instead of Pelosi Heritage: Repealing GOP tax law would raise taxes in every district MORE (D-Calif.), who shared it with Sen. Dianne FeinsteinDianne Emiel FeinsteinSenate Intel leaders ask judge not to jail former aide amid leak investigation Dems demand Pompeo brief Congress on whether he discussed Assange with Ecuadorian official Cohen saga reaches dramatic climax in federal court MORE (D-Calif.), a senior Democrat on the Judiciary committee. Feinstein kept her identity and the contents of the letter anonymous until Ford came forward over the weekend.

“I respect that Senator Feinstein heard repeated requests from the victim that she wanted to remain anonymous and asked for confidentiality and as a result of that Sen. Feinstein felt really caught in between revealing this publicly and respecting her confidentiality,” Coons said.

Some Democrats, including Feinstein, say Monday's public hearing is too soon and that the FBI must investigate before the committee should take public testimony. Feinstein accused the Republicans of making the same mistakes by rushing as they did in 1991 with Clarence Thomas' confirmation hearing.

"Republicans have learned nothing from Anita Hill," she tweeted on Tuesday, referencing the woman who accused Thomas of sexual harassment in public hearings at the time.

Her fellow Democratic colleague, Sen. Patty MurrayPatricia (Patty) Lynn MurrayVA senior adviser forced out amid concerns that he was 'getting paid to sit on his couch': report The Year Ahead: Drug pricing efforts to test bipartisanship Overnight Health Care: Manchin pitched Trump on reviving bipartisan ObamaCare fix | 4 in 10 don’t plan to get flu shots | Survey finds more than a quarter have pre-existing conditions MORE (Wash.), who was elected in 1992, agreed.

“Having arrived here because of how Anita Hill was treated I think it’s incredibly important that the Senate take these allegations seriously, do a thorough background FBI check and do an investigation so that senators have the ability to make the decision correctly,” Murray told Hill.TV.

“Most importantly to take these allegations seriously, because we do not want the outcome to be that - as it did with Anita Hill - women are afraid again to come forward,” Murray added.

- Molly K. Hooper