Supreme Court nominee faces sexual assault allegation
The US Marshals Service is investigating threats against Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh and his family, according to a source close to Kavanaugh.
As a judge, Kavanaugh gets Marshals Service protection.
A senior administration official previously told CNN that the number of death threats made against Supreme Court nominee Kavanaugh and his family have increased since Ford's allegations came to light. There are several current threats against the Kavanaughs that law enforcement deems credible, while several others have been opened and closed since he was nominated, sources said.
There are Democratic concerns about the Senate Judiciary Republicans' proposal for a hearing with Christine Blasey Ford — specifically with the GOP's plan to have outside counsel ask the questions.
"Outside counsel doesn’t vote on Kavanaugh. Senators do. Republicans need to do their jobs and not hide," a Senate Democratic leadership aide said.
Why Republicans want the outside counsel: Republicans on the committee agreed to hire outside counsel — a woman with experience on these issues — to ask the bulk of the questions at the hearing. This is for both optics (all 11 GOP members are men) and order (there are concern that the hearing would be deemed a political circus.)
This is not what Ford and her lawyers want: Ford's attorney Debra Katz said outside counsel would make the hearing appear too much like a trial.
Per a source close to Christine Blasey Ford, she will talk to the FBI today in San Francisco about death threats against her. The investigation is not looking into allegations regarding Brett Kavanaugh, just about the threats she’s received.
In an email sent to the Senate Judiciary Committee Thursday, Ford's attorney Debra Katz wrote, "As you are aware, she has been receiving death threats, which have been reported to the Federal Bureau of Investigation, and she and her family have been forced out of their home."
Ford's other attorney, Lisa Banks, also wrote a letter to the committee saying that her client had been the subject of "vicious harassment," including death threats.
"As a result of these kind of threats, her family was forced to relocate out of their home. Her email has been hacked, and she has been impersonated online," Banks wrote in the letter.
Ford has not been seen publicly for several days.
CNN reported on Thursday that both Brett Kavanaugh and Ford have received a slew of death threats in recent days.
Citing an internal law enforcement report that details threats to the protectee, a senior administration official told CNN Thursday that the number of death threats made against Supreme Court nominee Kavanaugh and his family have increased since Ford's allegations came to light. The official said there are several current threats against the Kavanaughs that law enforcement deems credible, while several others have been opened and closed since he was nominated.
Kavanaugh, who is married with two daughters, has received around-the-clock protection from US Marshals since President Donald Trump nominated him to the bench in July.
Two sources say the Senate Judiciary Committee will likely send a proposal to Christine Blasey Ford’s lawyer proposing a Wednesday hearing, with Ford testifying first and Brett Kavanaugh second.
The proposal would have outside counsel asks the questions.
Ford had asked that Kavanaugh testify first, but congressional aides, said that is a non-starter. It’s not how the committee works, they said, and given Kavanaugh would need to respond to Ford’s testimony, it will not occur.
A group of faculty members from Yale Law School — which Brett Kavanaugh graduated from — are urging the US Senate to "conduct a fair and deliberate confirmation process" amid allegations that the judge sexually assaulted Christine Blasey Ford.
"Where, as here, a sexual assault has been alleged against an individual nominated for a lifetime appointment in a position of public trust, a partisan hearing alone cannot be the forum to determine the truth of the matter," the group wrote in an open letter.
The letter continued: "Allegations of sexual assault require a neutral factfinder and an investigation that can ascertain facts fairly."
Here's the full letter:
As the Senate Judiciary Committee debates Judge Brett Kavanaugh’s nomination, we write as faculty members of Yale Law School, from which Judge Kavanaugh graduated, to urge that the Senate conduct a fair and deliberate confirmation process. With so much at stake for the Supreme Court and the nation, we are concerned about a rush to judgment that threatens both the integrity of the process and the public’s confidence in the Court.
Where, as here, a sexual assault has been alleged against an individual nominated for a lifetime appointment in a position of public trust, a partisan hearing alone cannot be the forum to determine the truth of the matter. Allegations of sexual assault require a neutral factfinder and an investigation that can ascertain facts fairly. Those at the FBI or others tasked with such an investigation must have adequate time to investigate facts. Fair process requires evidence from all parties with direct knowledge and consultation of experts when evaluating such evidence. In subsequent hearings, all of those who testify, and particularly women testifying about sexual assault, must be treated with respect.
The confirmation process must always be conducted, and appointments made, in a manner that gives Americans reason to trust the Supreme Court. Some questions are so fundamental to judicial integrity that the Senate cannot rush past them without undermining the public’s confidence in the Court. This is particularly so for an appointment that will yield a deciding vote on women’s rights and myriad other questions of immense consequence in American lives.
President Trump tweeted this morning that Christine Blasey Ford — who has accused Brett Kavanaugh of sexual assault when they were both in high school — would have reported the alleged attack at the time if it was "as bad as she says."
But it's not unusual for victims to wait to come forward.
Here are some reasons why some people hesitate to report sexual assault and misconduct:
- They lose their privacy. Ford tried to keep her allegations against Kavanaugh confidential, fearing that publicly accusing him "would upend her life," according to the Washington Post.
- They think no one will believe them. One of Ford's lawyers advised her to take a polygraph test, suspecting that people would call Ford a liar if she came forward.
- Their names will be dragged through the mud. Anita Hill endured vicious character attacks during and after she testified in Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas' nomination hearings. She accused him of sexually harassing her as her supervisor at Department of Education and the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission.
- Their motives are questioned. When the Washington Post published accounts from four women who said Alabama Senate candidate Roy Moore pursued them as teenagers, Moore's supporters said they found the timing "suspect." The Senate race was just weeks away, leading many, including Moore's wife, to accuse the women of conspiring with the "liberal press" to get "involved" with the race.
- They fear professional consequences. Former CBS executive Les Moonves denies allegations that he abused his position of influence to coerce female actresses and producers into unwanted sexual activity.
- They blame themselves. American gymnast Simone Biles has described the guilt victims carry around after being violated. The Olympic champion said she was sexually abused by doctor Larry Nassar, but before speaking up, Biles said she grappled with whether she could have done something to prevent what happened, even though she did nothing to cause it.
President Trump is criticizing Democrats for holding onto a letter from Christine Blasey Ford detailing sexual assault allegations against Brett Kavanaugh, saying the party released it now to "Obstruct & Resist & Delay."
He demanded the Senate vote on Kavanaugh's nomination even if Ford doesn't testify next week.
Here is the President's latest tweet:
What he's talking about: The letter detailing the allegations against Kavanaugh was hand-delivered to Sen. Dianne Feinstein's office on July 30. But the California Democrat didn't release it right away.
Feinstein said she privately held on to the letter because the accuser had asked her to keep them confidential. She waited until late last week to provide the letter to the FBI — only after a news report surfaced detailing the existence of the letter.
Senate Judiciary Chairman Chuck Grassley will hold a call with the 10 other Republican members of the committee in the next half hour, per a source with direct knowledge.
Why this matters: This is a key discussion that will dictate how Grassley officially responds to the requests and conditions made by Christine Blasey Ford’s lawyer.
And for context, it was the committee member meeting on Monday that led to the decision to schedule a hearing in the first place. Sen. Jeff Flake, in that closed door meeting, made clear he would oppose Kavanaugh if Ford was not given an opportunity to testify publicly. That led GOP leaders to shift course and schedule the hearing, so this phone call — and how senators like Flake feel about the path forward — will go a long way in dictating the next steps.
We're not sure how long this could take. There’s no scheduled stop time for the call — it will continue as long as senators want to discuss, and eventually coalesce around, a path forward.
A Hill source says the Senate Judiciary Chairman Chuck Grassley and Senate Majority leader Mitch McConnell have discussed the hearing proposals from Christine Blasey Ford's legal team.
Member-level discussions will continue today before they respond to her — which will likely respond later today.