Grassley Won't Delay Kavanaugh Hearing

Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) has told Democratic committee members he is not calling off the Sept. 24 hearing into allegations of sexual misconduct against Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh, and reiterated he is not going to ask the FBI to investigate, as Democrats and Kavanaugh's accuser, Dr. Christine Blasey Ford have asked for.

Ford signaled through her attorneys that without that FBI investigation, she was not going to attend the hearing. Kavanaugh said he is willing to appear.

According to a letter from Grassley to the Democrats on the committee, Grassley said "it would be a disservice to Dr. Ford, Judge Kavanaugh, this Committee, and the American people to delay this hearing any further."

He said earlier in the day that an FBI investigation was not only not going to happen, but not the FBI's proper province in this circumstance, and reiterated it to the Democrats. "We have no power to commandeer an Executive Branch agency into conducting our due diligence," he said.

The chairman said he had offered Ford other options, including a private hearing, a public interview by staff, and even for staffers to fly to California, where Ford resides.

Grassley dressed down the Democrats who had written him asking that the hearing not be conducted Monday.

"This is but the latest—and most serious—of your side's abuse of this confirmation process. There has been delay and obstruction of this process at every turn and with every argument available. Therefore, I will view any additional complaints about the process very skeptically," he said.

Grassley laid much of the blame on ranking member Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.), who did not share Ford's allegation—that Kavanaugh as a high-schooler had pushed her into a room and groped her over her clothing against her will—with her colleagues until after Ford had agreed to identify herself in a Washington Post interview only days before the initially planned June 20 confirmation vote in the committee.

According to Ford's lawyers, she had shared the allegations in confidence "earlier this that lawmakers would have a fuller understanding of Brett Kavanaugh’s character and history."

Grassley told the Democrats, including Feinstein, that if Feinstein had made her colleagues aware of the allegations back in July, when she was informed of them, those lawmakers could have asked Kavanaugh about them directly in their some 64 private meetings or during three days of hearings.

On a related note, various news outlets were reporting that a classmate of Ford's remembered talk in school about the incident. If there is credible corroboration of Ford's allegation, Kavanaugh's chances of being confirmed to the High Court drop precipitously.

John Eggerton

Contributing editor John Eggerton has been an editor and/or writer on media regulation, legislation and policy for over four decades, including covering the FCC, FTC, Congress, the major media trade associations, and the federal courts. In addition to Multichannel News and Broadcasting + Cable, his work has appeared in Radio World, TV Technology, TV Fax, This Week in Consumer Electronics, Variety and the Encyclopedia Britannica.