Illinois Democratic Sen. Dick Durbin sought to press Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh on Thursday to call for an FBI investigation into allegations that have rocked his confirmation process.
Durbin began his exchange with Kavanaugh at Thursday’s Senate Judiciary Committee hearing by noting that Christine Blasey Ford, the woman who testified earlier Thursday about her sexual assault allegation against Kavanaugh, has called for an FBI investigation.
President Donald Trump has declined to have the FBI look into the matter, and Iowa Republican Sen. Chuck Grassley, the committee chairman, has said an FBI investigation would not be appropriate or definitive. At the hearing, Durbin called on Kavanaugh to demand one.
“I’ve got a suggestion for you: Right now, turn to your left in the front row, to Don McGahn, counsel to President Donald Trump, ask him to suspend this hearing and nomination process until the FBI completes its investigation of the charges made by Dr. Ford and others and goes to bring the witnesses forward and provides that information to this hearing,” Durbin said.
Grassley interjected and said the committee was running the hearing, not the White House, and that he would not suspend the hearing regardless of what Kavanaugh said.
Durbin continued at this point to have Kavanaugh address the matter.
“If you, Judge Kavanaugh, turned to Don McGahn and to this committee and say, ‘for the sake of my reputation, my family name and to get to the bottom of the truth of this, I am not going to stay being an obstacle to an FBI investigation,’ I would hope that all of the members of the committee would join me in saying we’re going to abide by your wishes and we will have that investigation,” Durbin said.
Kavanaugh responded, “I welcome whatever the committee wants to do because I’m telling the truth.”
The senator and the Supreme Court nominee then engaged in a contentious back-and-forth as Durbin continued to press Kavanaugh to call for an FBI investigation.
Kavanaugh said the FBI would not reach a conclusion if it investigated the allegations and at one point told Durbin that he was asking “a phony question.”
As they continued, Kavanaugh briefly stopped responding, and Durbin prompted him again.
Kavanaugh reiterated that he had wanted a Senate hearing on the allegations against him.