We may not hear from Christine Blasey Ford, the woman who has alleged that a teenage Brett Kavanaugh attempted to rape her while at a house party, on Monday after all. As Politico and others reported on Tuesday night, Ford’s attorneys have requested that the FBI conduct an investigation into her allegations as a first step, calling any talk of holding a Monday hearing “premature.” Republican senators, however, are continuing to push ahead with their call for a Monday hearing—a hearing that is, unsurprisingly, increasingly taking on the flavor and shape of a trial in which Ford’s motivations, and not Kavanaugh’s alleged sexual assault, will be under intense scrutiny.
In a letter sent to Judiciary Committee Chairman Chuck Grassley, Ford’s attorneys wrote:
While Dr. Ford’s life was being turned upside down, you and your staff scheduled a public hearing for her to testify at the same table as Judge Kavanaugh in front of two dozen U.S. Senators on national television to relive this traumatic and harrowing incident. The hearing was scheduled for six short days from today and would include interrogation by Senators who appear to have made up their minds that she is “mistaken” and “mixed up.” While no sexual assault survivor should be subjected to such an ordeal, Dr. Ford wants to cooperate with the Committee and with law enforcement officials.
As the Judiciary Committee has recognized and done before, an FBI investigation of the incident should be the first step in addressing her allegations. 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 decisions.
One of Ford’s attorneys, Lisa Banks, went on CNN last night and reiterated that demand. “Any talk of a hearing on Monday frankly is premature, because she just came forward with these allegations 48 hours ago,” Banks said. “And there hasn’t been an investigation, and these are serious allegations. So if the senators who have come forward and said they want to treat this seriously mean that, then they’ll have an investigation of these allegations so that we all go into this more informed.”
Senator Grassley released a statement on Tuesday night in which he reiterated his intent to move forward with a hearing on Monday: “Nothing the FBI or any other investigator does would have any bearing on what Dr. Ford tells the committee, so there is no reason for any further delay.”
Given how Republican members of the Senate Judiciary Committee have been doubling down on their support for Kavanaugh in recent days, it’s not surprising that Ford and her attorneys are demanding an investigation before she testifies.
In a possible sign of how Republican senators plan on questioning Ford, Senator Lindsey Graham on Monday night appeared on Fox News and raised questions about her motivations, focusing on the polygraph she took. “Here’s what I want your audience to know: If Ms. Ford really did not want to come forward, never intended to come forward, never planned to come forward, why did she pay for a polygraph in August and why did she hire a lawyer in August if she never intended to do what she is doing?” Graham said, before adding, “And who paid for it?”
Democrats have signaled that they support the idea of an FBI investigation. In a tweet, Senator Kamala Harris wrote, “I support Dr. Blasey Ford’s request for an FBI background investigation before a hearing. She should not be bullied into participating in a biased process and we should not rush forward before facts are gathered.”