WASHINGTON (CN) – The professor who accused Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh of sexually assaulting her when they were both in high school asked the Senate Judiciary Committee Tuesday night to delay a hearing on the allegations planned for next week so the FBI can conduct an investigation into her claims.
The Judiciary Committee invited Christine Blasey Ford to testify either publicly or behind closed doors on Sept. 24 to detail her allegations that Kavanaugh forced her into a bedroom, pinned her down and attempted to remove her clothes during a high school party in the 1980s.
Kavanaugh has denied the allegations.
Senator Chuck Grassley, the Iowa Republican who chairs the committee, announced next week’s hearing on Monday after Ford made her story public in the Washington Post on Sunday. Democrats almost immediately rejected the idea of a hearing, saying the FBI should instead conduct an investigation into the allegations.
In a letter to Grassley on Tuesday, Ford’s attorneys, Debra Katz and Lisa Banks, repeated those calls for a federal investigation, saying it should be the “first step” in the process.
“As the Judiciary Committee has recognized and done before, an FBI investigation of the incident should be the first step in addressing her allegations,” the letter to Grassley states. “A full investigation by law enforcement officials will ensure that the crucial facts and witnesses in this matter are assessed in a non-partisan manner and that the committee is fully informed before conducting any hearing or making any decision.”
The FBI has said it does not have a role in the matter, as Ford has not accused Kavanaugh of committing a federal crime. The agency updated Kavanaugh’s background folder with the letter Ford wrote disclosing the allegations, which became public last week.
Democrats have written to the White House and the FBI asking that the agency open an investigation and Senator Dianne Feinstein, the top Democrat on the Judiciary Committee, said on Tuesday night the panel should heed Ford’s request.
“We should honor Dr. Blasey Ford’s wishes and delay this hearing,” Feinstein said in a statement. “A proper investigation must be completed, witnesses interviewed, evidence reviewed and all sides spoken to. Only then should the chairman set a hearing date.”
In a statement on Tuesday, Grassley said the invitation for Ford to testify before the committee next week “still stands” and that his staff has been working to contact witnesses who might be able to shed further light on Ford’s claims. Grassley also called out Feinstein for not coming forward with Ford’s allegations earlier in Kavanaugh’s nomination process, as the California Democrat had them for weeks before they became public.
“Dr. Ford’s testimony would reflect her personal knowledge and memory of events,” Grassley said in a statement. “Nothing the FBI or any other investigator does would have an bearing on what Dr. Ford tells the committee, so there is no reason for any further delay.”