Republicans on Tuesday appeared unfazed by the issues Democrats raised about inviting Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh and the woman who has accused him of sexual assault to testify publicly, without also inviting others who could corroborate either of their accounts.
“I think the most relevant witnesses are the accuser and the accused,” Sen. John Cornyn (R-TX), the No. 2 Senate Republican and a member of the Judiciary Committee, told reporters Tuesday afternoon. He said he was reserving judgement on whether he believed Judge Kavanaugh’s denials of the allegations, while noting that there are “gaps” in the “memory” of Dr. Christine Blasey Ford, who came forward publicly on Sunday with the allegations that Kavanuagh assaulted her when they were teenagers.
“She doesn’t know how she got there,” Cornyn said, “And so that would logically be something where she would get questioned.”
While Ford’s lawyer has indicated that her client would like to testify publicly, it’s unclear that she’ll accept the invitation to do so next Monday.
Other Republicans said that they were deferring to the Judiciary Committee in setting up the format for a potential hearing.
“She will have the opportunity to be heard Monday,” Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) said at press conference Tuesday, while dodging a question about whether other potentially corroborating witnesses should be brought in to testify.
“The committee will make the decisions about the makeup of the hearing. But she’s been asking for the opportunity to be heard and she is going to be given the opportunity to be heard Monday,” he said.
According to the Washington Post, which broke Ford’s decision to go public, her therapist took notes in 2012 during a session in which Ford described the assault. The notes don’t include Kavanaugh’s name, but instead describe Ford’s account that her attackers had become “highly respected and high-ranking members of society in Washington.”
Ford told the Post that, after Kavanaugh had allegedly pinned her on bed and began groping her, his Georgetown Prep classmate Mark Judge jumped on top of them and she was able to escape from the room where the alleged attack had occurred.
Judiciary Chairman Chuck Grassley (R-IA) said on Hugh Hewitt’s show Tuesday morning that there would be only two witnesses at next week’s hearing, while his office has said that GOP Judiciary staff is reaching out to other people referenced in the original report about her allegation for interviews ahead of the hearing.
An attorney for Mark Judge sent the committee a letter on Tuesday in which Judge said he no memory of the incident or the party where Ford says it took place. He said he had “no more information to offer the Committee and I do not wish to speak publicly regarding the incidents described” by Ford.
Republicans, in defending their plans for the hearing next week, also pointed to what they described as other investigations Kavanaugh has been subjected to. Those, however, were FBI background checks, not probes specifically into Ford’s allegation.
They also tried to turn the criticism back on Democrats and the top Judiciary Dem Dianne Feinstein’s decision not raise the allegations earlier in the confirmation process, after receiving a letter recounting them in July. At the time, and until she came forward to the Post, Ford was not sure if she would want to go public with the allegations.
“This hiding of this, I think, is very, very suspect,” Sen. John Thune (R-SD), the No. 3 member of the Republican caucus, said.