Several legislators from opposite sides of the aisle have said that the Senate must postpone its vote on Brett Kavanaugh, President Donald Trump's Supreme Court nominee, in the wake of a sexual assault allegation.
Senator Jeff Flake (R-AZ), who sits on the Senate Judiciary Committee, said that Christine Blasey Ford, who claims Kavanaugh attempted to rape her when they were teenagers, “must be heard” before the vote.
"I’ve made it clear that I’m not comfortable moving ahead with the vote on Thursday if we have not heard her side of the story or explored this further,” Flake told The Washington Post. “For me, we can’t vote until we hear more.”
NEWS: Sen. Jeff Flake (R-Ariz.) tells me in an intv he that doesn’t think the Judiciary Cmte should move ahead with… https://t.co/VGlCYckrUR— Sean Sullivan (@Sean Sullivan)1537135802.0
Republicans wanted to push toward a Judiciary Committee vote on Thursday but Flake's stance could endanger that. Should Flake block the committee from advancing Kavanaugh's nomination, Republicans could attempt to bring Kavanaugh’s nomination directly to the Senate floor. But Republicans have 51 seats in the Senate and can only afford to lose two votes. Senator Bob Corker (R-TN), who is not on the Judiciary Committee, has said Ford should be heard before the panel votes, and his vote would be needed for a full Senate confirmation.
"I think that would be best for all involved, including the nominee,” Corker said of postponing the vote.
Senator Lisa Murkowski (R-AK) concurred.
Well, I think that might be something they might have to consider, at least having that discussion," said Murkowski, who is seen as among the likeliest to vote "no" on Kavanaugh's confirmation. "This is not something that came up during the hearings. The hearings are now over, and if there is real substance to this, it demands a response. That may be something the committee needs to look into."
On the opposite side of the aisle, Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) also agreed that the Senate should postpone its vote.
"Senator Grassley must postpone the vote until, at a very minimum, these serious and credible allegations are thoroughly investigated. For too long, when woman have made serious allegations of abuse, they have been ignored. That cannot happen in this case," Schumer said in a statement on yesterday.
Schumer also took to Twitter to spread his message.
"To railroad a vote now would be an insult to the women of America and the integrity of the Supreme Court," he said in part.
Re: WaPo report on Judge Kavanaugh, Sen Grassley must postpone vote until, at a very minimum, these serious & credi… https://t.co/N4lxphyenL— Chuck Schumer (@Chuck Schumer)1537127341.0
Judge Kavanaugh’s credibility has already been seriously questioned because of his answers regarding Manny Miranda,… https://t.co/sQUA3vUmtf— Chuck Schumer (@Chuck Schumer)1537127342.0
To railroad a vote now would be an insult to the women of America and the integrity of the Supreme Court.— Chuck Schumer (@Chuck Schumer)1537127342.0
In a statement issued earlier this morning, former Vice President Joe Biden also urged the Senate to provide Ford with a "fair and respectful hearing of her allegations."
Moreover, the Judiciary Committee "should undertake a thorough and non-partisan effort to get to the truth, wherever it leads," he said.
Former VP Biden, who presided over Justice Thomas' confirmation hearings as a US senator, "believes Professor Ford… https://t.co/bdHz4j4N0T— NBC News (@NBC News)1537190334.0
Kavanaugh's confirmation no longer seems certain, and he has entirely denied the allegations, which first emerged in a confidential letter passed to lawmakers by the FBI. The letter's contents became public on Friday, but Ford's identity remained anonymous until she came forward as the author.
Ford recalls Kavanaugh and one of his friends drunkenly forced her onto a bed and tried to remove her clothes. She protested, but only managed to escape after another friend entered the room and stopped Kavanaugh and the other man.
"I thought he might inadvertently kill me,” Ford, a California psychology professor, told The Washington Post. “He was trying to attack me and remove my clothing.”
The Post verified the account with notes from Ford’s past therapy sessions. They noted a “rape attempt” and an incident in which she was attacked by students “from an elitist boys’ school” who went on to become “highly respected and high-ranking members of society in Washington.”
Committee Chairman Chuck Grassley (R-IA) said he will set up separate phone calls with Kavanaugh and Ford before the vote.
65 high school acquaintances of Kavanaugh signed an open letter last week vouching for his character after the allegations first broke. However, more than two dozen of the women did not respond when contacted by POLITICO yesterday about whether they still stood by their defense of Kavanaugh. Two of the women who signed the letter "declined to comment," the outlet noted.
.@AndrewRestuccia and I called many of Kavanaugh's 65 female HS acquittances who signed a letter supporting him. Af… https://t.co/b9gcLGakkX— Daniel Lippman (@Daniel Lippman)1537189938.0
President Donald Trump has fumed privately, according to White House sources who say "he’s likely to see the allegations against Kavanaugh as simply another element of the supposed conspiracy against him."