SENATE JUDICIARY COMMITTEE HEARING ON THE NOMINATION OF BRETT M.
KAVANAUGH TO BE AN ASSOCIATE JUSTICE OF THE SUPREME COURT, DAY 5,
FOCUSING ON ALLEGATIONS OF SEXUAL ASSAULT
SEPTEMBER 27, 2018
SEN. CHARLES E. GRASSLEY, R-IOWA, CHAIRMAN
SEN. ORRIN G. HATCH, R-UTAH
SEN. LINDSEY GRAHAM, R-S.C.
SEN. JOHN CORNYN, R-TEXAS
SEN. MIKE LEE, R-UTAH
SEN. TED CRUZ, R-TEXAS
SEN. JEFF FLAKE, R-ARIZ.
SEN. THOM TILLIS, R-N.C.
SEN. BEN SASSE, R-NEB.
SEN. MICHAEL D. CRAPO, R-IDAHO
SEN. JOHN KENNEDY, R-LA.
SEN. DIANNE FEINSTEIN, D-CALIF., RANKING MEMBER
SEN. PATRICK J. LEAHY, D-VT.
SEN. RICHARD J. DURBIN, D-ILL.
SEN. SHELDON WHITEHOUSE, D-R.I.
SEN. AMY KLOBUCHAR, D-MINN.
SEN. CHRIS COONS, D-DEL.
SEN. RICHARD BLUMENTHAL, D-CONN.
SEN. MAZIE K. HIRONO, D-HAWAII
SEN. CORY BOOKER, D-N.J.
SEN. KAMALA HARRIS, D-CALIF.
RACHEL MITCHELL, STAFF COUNSEL
CHRISTINE BLASEY FORD, KAVANAUGH ACCUSER
MICHAEL BROMWICH, ATTORNEY FOR MS. FORD
JUDGE BRETT M. KAVANAUGH, NOMINATED TO BE AN ASSOCIATE JUSTICE OF
THE SUPREME COURT
GRASSLEY: This morning we continue our hearing on the nomination of Judge Brett Kavanaugh to serve as associate justice on our Supreme Court. We will hear from two witnesses, Dr. Christine Blasey Ford and Judge Kavanaugh. Thanks, of course, to Dr. Ford and Judge Kavanaugh for accepting our committeeâs invitation to testify and also thank them for their volunteering to testify before we even invited.
GRASSLEY: Both Dr. Ford and Judge Kavanaugh have been through a terrible couple weeks. They and their families have received vile threats. What they have endured ought to be considered by all of us as unacceptable and a poor reflection on the state of civility in our democracy.
So I want to apologize to you both for the way youâve been treated. And I intend, hopefully, for todayâs hearing to be safe, comfortable and dignified for both of our witnesses. I hope my colleagues will join me in this effort of a show of civility.
With that said, I lament that this hearing â how this hearing has come about.
On July the 9th, 2018, the president announced Judge Kavanaughâs nomination to serve on the Supreme Court. Judge Kavanaugh has served on the most important federal appellate court for 12 years. Before that, he held some of the most sensitive positions in the federal government. The president added Judge Kavanaugh to his short list of Supreme Court more than nine months ago, in November 2017.
GRASSLEY: As part of judge Kavanaughâs nomination to the Supreme Court, the FBI conducted its sixth full field background investigation of Judge Kavanaugh since 1993, 25 years ago. Nowhere in any of these six FBI reports, which committee investigators have reviewed on a bipartisan basis, was there a whiff of any issue â any issue at all related in any way to inappropriate sexual behavior.
Dr. Ford first raised her allegations in a secret letter to the ranking member nearly two months ago in July. This letter was secret from July 30th, September 13th to â no, July 30th until September 13th when I first heard about it.
The ranking member took no action. The letter wasnât shared with me or colleagues or my staff. These allegations could have been investigated in a way that maintained the confidentiality that Dr. Ford requested.
Before his hearing, Judge Kavanaugh met privately with 65 senators, including the ranking member. But the ranking member didnât ask Judge Kavanaugh about the allegations when she met with him privately in August.
The Senate Judiciary Committee held its four-day public hearing from September 4th to September 7th. Judge Kavanaugh testified for more than 32 hours in public. We held a closed session for members to ask sensitive on that â on the last evening, which the ranking member did not attend.
Judge Kavanaugh answered nearly 1,300 written questions submitted by senators after the hearing, more than all prior Supreme Court nominees.
Throughout this period, we did not know about the ranking memberâs secret evidence.
Then, only at an 11th hour, on the eve of Judge Kavanaughâs confirmation vote, did the ranking member refer the allegations to the FBI. And then, sadly, the allegations were leaked to the press. And thatâs where Dr. Ford was mistreated.
This is a shameful way to treat our witness, who insisted on confidentiality, and â and, of course, Judge Kavanaugh, who has had to address these allegations in the midst of a media circus.
When I received Dr. Fordâs letter on September the 13th, my staff and I recognized the seriousness of these allegations and immediately began our committeeâs investigation, consistent with the way the committee has handled such allegations in the past.
Every step of the way the Democratic side refused to participate in what should have been a bipartisan investigation. And as far as I know on all of our judgeships throughout at least the last four years â or three years, thatâs been the way itâs been handled.
After Dr. Fordâs identity became public, my staff contacted all the individuals she said attended the 1982 party described in the Washington Post article.
Judge Kavanaugh immediately submitted to an interview under penalty of felony for any knowingly false statements. He denied the allegations categorically.
GRASSLEY: Democratic staff was invited to participate and could have asked any questions they wanted to, but they declined. Which leads me then to wonder: If theyâre really concerned with going to the truth, why wouldnât you want to talk to the accused?
The process and procedure is what the committee always does when we receive allegations of wrongdoing.
My staff reached out to other individuals allegedly at the party: Mark Judge, Patrick Smyth, Leland Keyser. All three submitted statements to the Senate under â under penalty of felony, denying any knowledge of the events described by Dr. Ford.
Dr. Fordâs lifelong friend, Dr. â Miss Keyser, stated she doesnât know Judge Kavanaugh and doesnât recall ever attending a party with him.
My staff made repeated requests to interview Dr. Ford during the past 11 days, even volunteering to fly to California to take her testimony, but her attorneys refused to prevent â present her allegations to Congress. I never â I nevertheless honored her request for a public hearing, so Dr. Ford today has the opportunity to prevent (sic) her allegations under oath.
As you can see, the Judiciary Committee was able to conduct thorough investigations into allegation â thorough investigations into allegations.
Some of my colleagues, consistent with their stated desires to obstruct Kavanaughâs nomination by any means precisely â by any means necessary, pushed for FBI investigations into the allegations. But I have no authority to force the executive branch agency to conduct an investigation into a matter it considers to be closed. Moreover, once the allegations become â became public, it was easy to identify all the alleged witnesses and conduct our own investigations.
Contrary to what the public has been led to believe, the FBI doesnât perform any credibility assessments or verify the truth of any events in these background investigations.
Iâll quote then-Chairman Joe Biden during Justice Thomasâ confirmation hearing. This is what Senator Biden said, quote, âThe next person who refers to an FBI report as being worth anything obviously doesnât understand anything. The FBI explicitly does not, in this or any other case, reach a conclusion, period. They say he â he said, she said, they said, period. So when people wave an FBI report before you, understand, they do not â they do not â they do not reach conclusions. They do not make recommendations,â end of Senator Bidenâs quote.
The FBI provided us with the allegations. Now itâs up to the Senate to assess their credibility. Which brings us to this very time.
I look forward to a fair and respectful hearing. Thatâs what we promised Dr. Ford.
Some of my colleagues have complained about the fact that an expert on this side is â investigating sex crimes will be questioning the witness. I see no basis for complaint other than just playing politics.
GRASSLEY: The testimony we will hear today concerns allegations of sexual assault; very serious allegations. This is an incredibly complex and sensitive subject to discuss. It is not an easy one to discuss. That is why the senators on this side of the dais believe an expert who has deep experience and training in interviewing victims of sexual assault and investigating sexual assault alleged â allegations should be asking questions.
This will be in stark contrast to the grandstanding and chaos that we saw from the other side during the previous four days in this hearing process.
I can think of no one better equipped to question the witnesses than Rachel Mitchell. Ms. Mitchell is a career prosecutor, civil servant, with decades of experience investigating and prosecuting sex crimes. She has dedicated her career to seeking justice for survivors of sex-related felonies.
Most recently, Rachel was a division chief of the Special Victims Division, Maricopa County Attorneyâs Office, which prosecutes sex crimes and family violence.
Then-Democratic Senator â Governor Janet Napolitano previously recognized her as the outstanding Arizona sexual assault prosecutor of the year. And she has spent years instructing prosecutors, detectives and child protection workers on how to properly interview victims of sexual assault and abuse.
With her aid, I look forward to a fair and productive hearing.
I understand that there are two other public allegations. Todayâs hearing was scheduled to â in close consultation with Dr. Fordâs attorneys, and her testimony will be the subject of this hearing.
Weâve been trying to investigate other allegations. At this time, we have not had cooperation from attorneys representing other clients, and they have made no attempt to substantiate their claims.
My staff has tried to secure testimony and evidence from attorneys for both Deborah Ramirez and Julie Swetnick. My staff made eight requests â yes, eight requests â for evidence from attorneys for Ms. â Ms. Ramirez, and six requests for evidence for (sic) attorneys for Ms. Swetnick. Neither attorney has made their clients available for interview. The committee canât do an investigation if attorneys are stonewalling.
I hope you all understand that we have attempted to seek additional information, as we do a lot of times when there are holes in what we call the B.I. reports.
Additionally, all the witnesses should know â by â when I say âall the witnesses,â I mean Dr. Ford and I mean Judge Kavanaugh â all the witnesses should know that they have the right under Senate Rule 26.5 to ask that the committee go into closed session if a question requires an answer that is a clear invasion of their right to privacy.
If either Dr. Ford or Judge Kavanaugh feel that Senate Rule 26.5 ought to be involved, they should simply say so.
FEINSTEIN: Thank you very much, Mr. Chairman.
Iâll make just a brief comment on your references to me.
Yes, I did receive a letter from Dr. Ford. It was conveyed to me by a member of Congress, Anna Eshoo.
The next day, I called Dr. Ford. We spoke on the phone. She reiterated that she wanted this held confidential. And I held it confidential, up to a point where the witness was willing to come forward.
FEINSTEIN: And I think as I make my remarks, perhaps youâll see why. Because how women are treated in the United States, with this kind of concern, is really wanting a lot of reform. And Iâll get to that for a minute.
But in the meantime, good morning, Dr. Ford. Thank you for coming forward and being willing to share your story with us. I know this wasnât easy for you.
But before you get to your testimony â and the chairman chose not to do this â I think itâs important to make sure youâre properly introduced. And I have toâŚ
GRASSLEY: By the way, I was going to introduce her. But if you want to introduce her, Iâll be glad to have you do that.
But I want you to know, I didnât forget to do it, because I would do that just as she was about to speak.
FEINSTEIN: Thank you.
I have to say, when I saw your C.V., I was extremely impressed. You have a bachelorâs degree from the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill; two masterâs degrees, one from Stanford and one from Pepperdine; and a Ph.D. from the University of Southern California, better known to Senator Harris and I as USC.
You are a professor affiliated with both Stanford Unive