WASHINGTON (CN) – Democrats are calling on the Senate Judiciary Committee to delay a hearing on a professor’s allegation that Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh sexually assaulted her at a party when they were both in high school.
Democrats began calling for a federal investigation into the allegations almost immediately after Judiciary Committee Chairman Senator Chuck Grassley scheduled a hearing next week featuring testimony from Palo Alto University professor Christine Blasey Ford and Kavanaugh.
Ford claims that at a high school party in the 1980s, Kavanaugh forced her into a bedroom, pinned her down and attempted to remove her clothes.
Kavanaugh denies the allegations and the Justice Department has said there is no role for the FBI to investigate the claims because they do not involve a federal crime. The agency has updated Kavanaugh’s background file to include Ford’s allegations.
Committee Democrats sent a letter Tuesday to the FBI and White House requesting the FBI open an investigation into the claims. Democrats have expressed concerns about how Ford will be treated in any public testimony.
“There is no way that we should have this hearing without having a full, fair investigation,” Senator Richard Blumenthal, a Connecticut Republican who sits on the Judiciary Committee, told reporters Tuesday. “There is no way we can fairly have this hearing without the corroborating witnesses coming forward as well. What has been proposed is simply a sham and a mockery of a full Senate hearing.”
Meanwhile, it remains unclear whether Ford will testify at Monday’s scheduled hearing. Grassley’s office has reached out to Ford’s attorney, but they have not yet heard back, according to a spokesman for Grassley.
Committee staff members questioned Kavanaugh over the phone about the allegations on Monday and Republican staffers have also contacted other witnesses the Washington Post identified in its story detailing Ford’s allegations. Staff for Senator Dianne Feinstein, the top Democrat on the committee, has so far not participated in the calls, according to Grassley’s office.
Speaking to reporters at a press conference on Tuesday afternoon, Senator John Cornyn, a Texas Republican who sits on the Judiciary Committee, said the committee has given Ford her choice of setting in which to testify.
“We certainly hope that she takes advantage of this opportunity if she still would like to,” Cornyn said. “If she would prefer to do this in a closed setting, that’s her choice, but we’ve offered her basically either an open or a closed setting.