Politics

Grassley Rips Feinstein for Sitting on Sexual Assault Allegations

The chair of the Senate Judiciary Committee also demanded that his colleague on the panel turn over the letter

Image Credit: Alex Wong / Mark Wilson /Getty Images

Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) blasted Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) in a letter  on Wednesday for sitting on the sexual assault allegations against U.S. Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh.

“Sexual assault allegations deserve serious attention, and those who make such allegations must be heard,” said Grassley (shown above right) in a letter to Feinstein (above left).

“They should not be deployed strategically for political gain. You received this letter approximately seven weeks ago. But the contents of the letter were leaked only last week when it appeared the Senate was about to confirm Judge Kavanaugh.”

Feinstein is currently the ranking member on the Judiciary Committee and thus plays an important role in the confirmation process.

Grassley also requested that she hand over the letter, which was dated July 30, 2018.

The allegations in the letter only came to light in a leak last week, just before a committee vote on Kavanaugh’s nomination.

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Related: Kavanaugh Denies Dems’ 11th-Hour Sexual Assault Allegations

“My staff has made repeated requests for this document,” Grassley said. “But your staff has so far refused to provide a copy of the letter. You are able to share this unredacted copy with all the members of your caucus and their staff, as well as anyone else you choose. The only version we have of this letter is a redacted version contained in the supplemental FBI background investigation file.”

Grassley added that there were numerous opportunities to raise the allegations during the nomination process. Senate Democrats didn’t bring up the allegations in the months since they found out, including during a four-day confirmation hearing.

They also had a closed-door hearing to discuss any sensitive matters on August 20.

Christine Blasey Ford, a psychologist, alleged in the letter that the nominee sexually assaulted her while drunk at a high school party roughly 35 years ago.

Kavanaugh was quick to deny the allegations when they first started spreading last week. But her accusations have upended the confirmation process and even resulted in the first vote on his nomination to be canceled.

Feinstein and the other Democrats aware of the letter decided not to go forward after being asked by Ford to keep it confidential. Feinstein referred the allegations to the FBI after the letter was leaked to the public.

The Senate Judiciary Committee, having canceled the vote to advance his nomination, set up a hearing Monday to address the allegations.

Related: Democrats Renew Calls to Delay Kavanaugh Vote Amid Sexual Assault Scandal

“You have said that you didn’t raise Dr. Ford’s allegations previously because you wanted to protect Dr. Ford’s anonymity,” Grassley said. “But these allegations could have been raised to me, or to Judge Kavanaugh, while protecting Dr. Ford’s anonymity. Indeed, the only version of her letter that I have is the redacted version from the FBI.”

Ford and her lawyers argued the hearing is happening too soon and that the FBI should investigate first. Grassley responded by noting that she was offered a public or a private hearing along with staff-led interviews. He has also repeatedly said she deserves to be heard while also questioning the timing of the allegations.

Senate Democrats have called for the Kavanaugh nomination to be delayed ever since it was announced July 9. The sexual assault allegations are the latest in a series of reasons they have cited for why the process should be halted. They could potentially improve their chances of stopping President Donald Trump’s nominee to the high court if they’re able to delay a final vote until after the midterm elections.

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