Grassley willing to send staff to California to speak with Kavanaugh accuser

Grassley willing to send staff to California to speak with Kavanaugh accuser
© Anna Moneymaker
Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Chuck GrassleyCharles (Chuck) Ernest GrassleyThe peculiar priorities of Adam Schiff Advocates frustrated over pace of drug price reform Trump drug pricing setbacks put pressure on Congress MORE (R-Iowa) is willing to send staff to speak with the woman accusing Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh of sexual assault to hear her story, an aide said Wednesday.
 
Committee spokesman Garrett Ventry told The Hill that Grassley is willing to send committee staff to speak with Christine Blasey Ford in California, where she is a professor at Palo Alto University.
 
Grassley separately told reporters on Wednesday that he is offering four potential venues to hear from Ford, including a public or private hearing before committee members, or public or private interviews with committee staff.
 
ADVERTISEMENT
"We’re going to continue to try to hear from Dr. Ford in any format she's comfortable [with] open session/closed session/private staff interviews/public staff interviews [because] her information is very important. We’ve provided an opportunity for her to put her story fwd on Monday," Grassley tweeted.
 
Grassley has pushed for Ford to speak with the Senate after her lawyers on Tuesday night pulled back on plans for her to testify before the Judiciary Committee, saying that the FBI should investigate her claims before she testifies.
 
Ford has accused Kavanaugh of pinning her down on a bed and trying to remove her clothing during a party in the early 1980s when they were both in high school. Kavanaugh has denied wrongdoing and agreed to testify. 
 
The offer to Ford comes as Republicans appear willing to move forward with Kavanaugh's Supreme Court nomination if Ford does not appear at a hearing scheduled for Monday. Republicans had invited both Ford and Kavanaugh. 
 
Sen. Lindsey GrahamLindsey Olin GrahamThe Hill's 12:30 Report: Trump digs in ahead of House vote to condemn tweet Why Trump's bigoted tropes won't work in 2020 The Memo: Toxic 2020 is unavoidable conclusion from Trump tweets MORE (R-S.C.), a member of the committee, said on Wednesday that "it is imperative the Judiciary Committee move forward on the Kavanaugh nomination and a committee vote be taken as soon as possible.”
 
Sen. Bob CorkerRobert (Bob) Phillips CorkerTrump announces, endorses ambassador to Japan's Tennessee Senate bid Meet the key Senate player in GOP fight over Saudi Arabia Trump says he's 'very happy' some GOP senators have 'gone on to greener pastures' MORE (R-Tenn.), who initially urged for the Judiciary Committee to pause the nomination to hear from Ford, said on Tuesday night that "if we don’t hear from both sides on Monday, let’s vote." 
 
Ford's lawyers indicated in a letter to the Judiciary Committee on Tuesday night that she wanted an FBI investigation before she agreed to testify. Senate Republicans and the White House have both pushed back on plans for such an investigation.
 
“Well, it would seem that the FBI really doesn’t do that," Trump told reporters on Wednesday.
 
A government official told The Hill late last week that a criminal investigation had not been opened. And a Justice Department (DOJ) spokeswoman added on Monday that the "allegation does not involve any potential federal crime."
 
"The FBI does not make any judgment about the credibility or significance of any allegation. The purpose of a background investigation is to determine whether the nominee could pose a risk to the national security of the United States. ... The FBI's role in such matters is to provide information for the use of the decision makers," the DOJ said in a statement.
 
But Democrats argue that the FBI could reopen its background investigation and interview Ford, Kavanaugh and other potential witnesses.
 
"The FBI routinely investigates allegations like Dr. Ford’s. They did it with Anita Hill’s allegations 27 years ago and they did it this year with allegations against Rob Porter. The FBI needs to investigate and the Senate needs to wait until that’s done," Sen. Dianne FeinsteinDianne Emiel FeinsteinHillicon Valley: Senators unload on Facebook cryptocurrency plan | Trump vows to 'take a look' at Google's ties to China | Google denies working with China's military | Tech execs on defensive at antitrust hearing | Bill would bar business with Huawei Epstein charges show Congress must act to protect children from abuse Feinstein introduces bill to prohibit campaigns from using social media bots MORE (D-Calif.) wrote in a tweet on Wednesday