The idea that U.S. Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh is facing sexual assault allegations has renewed efforts to delay his progress toward the high court just days before his first vote on Thursday.
Kavanaugh has faced relentless attacks over his record and legal views since President Donald Trump nominated him on July 9.
But the latest accusations against him are particularly troublesome. Christine Blasey Ford alleges he sexually assaulted her in high school. Democrats are again calling for his nomination to be delayed with his first vote just days away.
The Senate Judiciary Committee is expected to decide Thursday on whether to advance his nomination to a full floor vote.
Democrats were able to delay the vote by a week but are now out of options for slowing the process down themselves. Sen. Cory Booker (D-N.J.) called the allegations serious, credible, and deeply troubling.
“At a bare minimum, this week’s scheduled committee vote on Judge Kavanaugh’s lifetime appointment to the Supreme Court must be postponed until this matter is fully and thoroughly investigated,” Booker, a member of the committee, said in a statement Sunday. “It takes enormous courage to come forward publicly as Ms. Ford has. The Senate owes it to her and every survivor of sexual trauma to listen to her story and gather all of the facts before moving forward with this nomination.”
The Senate Judiciary Committee’s ranking member, Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.), was among the few Democrats who received a letter from the alleged victim earlier in the summer.
They decided not to speak publicly after speaking with each other. But keeping the information covered until right before a vote has raised many questions.
“It has always been Ms. Ford’s decision whether to come forward publicly,” Feinstein said in a statement Sunday. “For any woman, sharing an experience involving sexual assault — particularly when it involves a politically connected man with influence, authority, and power — is extraordinarily difficult.”
Kavanaugh was a student at Georgetown Preparatory School when the alleged incident occurred. The letter to lawmakers reportedly described how he was drunk with a friend and held the woman down. The friend who was said to be in the room at the time, Mark Judge, has denied that the incident occurred.
Kavanaugh himself has vigorously denied any such thing happened.
“From the outset, I have believed these allegations were extremely serious and bear heavily on Judge Kavanaugh’s character,” Feinstein said. “However, as we have seen over the past few days, they also come at a price for the victim. I hope the attacks and shaming of her will stop and this will be treated with the seriousness it deserves.”
Kavanaugh was quick to deny the allegations when they first started coming to light last week. Senate Judiciary Chairman Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-Ohio) has questioned the timing of the revelations while calling them disturbing and uncorroborated.
He argued that the allegations should have been revealed far earlier if anyone thought they were serious.
“They should have brought it to the full committee’s attention much earlier,” a spokesperson for Grassley said in a statement to Townhall. “Instead, they said nothing during two joint phone calls with the nominee in August, four days of lengthy public hearings, a closed session for all committee members with the nominee where sensitive topics can be discussed, and in more than 1,300 written questions.”
Ford revealed herself publicly days after the letter came to light during an interview with The Washington Post.
The California Democrat currently works as a psychologist and has been outspoken about issues such as immigration. She claims the incident occurred at a house party in Maryland when the two were teenagers 35 years ago.
“I admire the courage Ms. Ford has shown in coming forward with her story,” Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse (D-R.I.), another committee member, said in a statement.
“This requires a pause, at a minimum, in the unseemly, special interest-funded rush to put Brett Kavanaugh on the court. Kavanaugh’s blanket denial cannot be reconciled with her specific recollections, and the FBI needs time to take proper witness statements. Lying to an FBI agent in a formal interview is a crime and an impeachable offense.”
Senate Democrats have been calling for a delay since the nomination, for various reasons. They could potentially gain a better chance of stopping Kavanaugh if they are able to delay a final vote until after the midterm elections.
They have cited past delays, unfulfilled records requests and legal issues related to Trump as reasons to hold it.
“The allegation from Professor Christine Blasey Ford is a serious one that deserves a full investigation,” Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.), said in a statement on Sunday. “Neither the Judiciary Committee nor the full Senate should vote on Brett Kavanaugh’s nomination to the Supreme Court until that takes place.”
Democrats have called for delaying the process because they weren’t getting records from when Kavanaugh worked for then-President George W. Bush. They have also argued that delaying the nomination until after the midterms would be appropriate considering what happened to former President Barack Obama’s nominee, Judge Merrick Garland, in 2016.
President Trump’s facing a special counsel investigation and the legal trouble of some of his former associates have also prompted calls for delaying the process. Kavanaugh has expressed a fairly expansive view on executive authority — which has drawn the ire of critics who are concerned the president could abuse his office to overcome the legal issues facing him.
Kavanaugh was also defended in a letter written by dozens of women who went to high school with him.
But the allegations have caused some favorable potential voters for Kavanaugh to rethink their stance. Sen. Jeff Flake (R-Ariz.) has signaled that he may be getting cold feet on his vote in the wake of the allegations.