Lawyers for the woman accusing Brett Kavanaugh, US President Donald Trump’s Supreme Court nominee, of sexual assault decades ago say she wants her allegations to be investigated by the US government before she appears for a hearing in Congress.
The Senate Judiciary Committee, which is overseeing Kavanaugh’s nomination, had called a hearing for Monday to examine the sexual abuse accusations, and the White House had said Kavanaugh was ready to testify.
In a letter to the committee’s chairman, Republican Senator Chuck Grassley, attorneys for Christine Blasey Ford said Tuesday that an investigation by the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) needed to come before a Senate hearing.
"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," the lawyers wrote.
Trump on Tuesday said he would not order an FBI investigation. Grassley said there is no reason to delay Ford’s testimony and an invitation for her to appear before the committee on Monday stands.
“Dr Ford’s testimony would reflect her personal knowledge and memory of events. 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,” Grassley said in a statement.
Democratic Party lawmakers, already fiercely opposed to Kavanaugh, have also been seeking an FBI investigation, a request that Republicans have rebuffed. Trump and other Republicans said they did not think the FBI needed to be involved.
Ford, a university professor in the US state of California, has accused Kavanaugh of attacking her and trying to remove her clothing while he was drunk at a party near Washington in 1982 when they were both high school students, allegations Kavanaugh has called “completely false.”
The development further roiled a confirmation process that once seemed smooth for Kavanaugh, whose confirmation to the lifetime post could consolidate the conservative grip on the top US court.
Trump nominated Kavanaugh for the Supreme Court in July. If approved by the committee and the whole Senate, as has been expected, Kavanaugh is likely to decidedly tilt the nation’s highest court to conservatives for years to come.
The 53-year-old has served as a judge for the US Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia since 2006. If confirmed, he will replace long-serving Supreme Court Justice Anthony Kennedy, who announced his retirement on June 27.
A number of prominent men in business, entertainment, and the media in the United States have been accused of sexual misconduct in the past year, triggering what has become known as the #MeToo movement.