A last-minute revelation that Brett Kavanaugh had been accused of sexual assault by an acquaintance from high school in a July letter that Democratic Sen. Dianne Feinstein sat on it for weeks may have created an opening for Republicans to salvage the conservative judge’s nomination.
For nearly six weeks, Feinstein kept the allegations a secret, supposedly in an attempt to protect the woman who made the accusation. It was not until last week that she submitted a redacted inquiry to the FBI that masked the accuser’s name.
The woman is now known to be Palo Alto University Professor Christine Ford, who spoke on the record about the alleged incident over the weekend to The Washington Post.
Feinstein neither brought up the July 30, 2018 letter she received from Ford at a private session with Kavanaugh in her Capitol Hill office in late August or in a closed-door session with the nominee and committee members earlier this month.
‘She didn’t say anything in the confirmation hearing, she didn’t say anything in our confidential session with Judge Kavanaugh when the senators and the nominee met privately. And now, after it’s all over, she produces the letter,’ Sen. John Kennedy of Louisiana said on Fox News Sunday.
Sen. Dianne Feinstein’s last-minute revelation that Brett Kavanaugh had been accused of sexual assault by an acquaintance from high school in a July letter and she sat on it for weeks has created an opening for Republicans to salvage the conservative judge’s nomination
Feinstein joined nine other Judiciary Committee Democrats in pushing for a delay on Monday on the panel’s Kavanaugh vote, currently scheduled for Thursday.
‘As you are aware, Dr. Ford’s serious allegations were submitted to the FBI for investigation last week. Now that her story is public, it is even more important that we give the Bureau the time it needs to follow up,’ the senators told committee chairman Chuck Grassley.
Feinstein doubled down in a tweet that said, ‘There’s a lot of information we don’t know and the FBI should have the time it needs to review this new material. Staff calls aren’t the appropriate way to handle this.’
The White House put the decision to the committee on Monday, saying it would respect whatever decision lawmakers make.
Counselor to the president Kellyanne Conway told reporters that it’s ‘very disappointing’ that the woman who wished to remain anonymous had her identity leaked.
Feinstein similarly said in a statement defending her decision initially to stay silent about the allegations that it was her belief that it was Ford’s decision to take the allegations public.
She argued, ‘From the outset, I have believed these allegations were extremely serious and bear heavily on Judge Kavanaugh’s character.
‘However, as we have seen over the past few days, they also come at a price for the victim,’ she said. ‘I hope the attacks and shaming of her will stop and this will be treated with the seriousness it deserves.’
Feinstein greets White House Counsel Don McGahn before her meeting with Supreme Court Justice nominee Judge Brett Kavanaugh on Capitol Hill on August 20, 2018. The Democratic senator could have asked Kavanaugh about the allegations then but chose not to
Feinstein said the committee should wait to vote on Kavanaugh’s nomination until it can be investigated by the FBI.
Grassley in a response statement on Monday said he is ‘working diligently to get to the bottom of these claims’ and the committee ‘should continue working on a way to hear her out in an appropriate, precedented and respectful manner.’
‘Unfortunately, committee Republicans have only known this person’s identity from news reports for less than 24 hours and known about her allegations for less than a week. Senator Feinstein, on the other hand, has had this information for many weeks and deprived her colleagues of the information necessary to do our jobs, he said.
‘The Minority withheld even the anonymous allegations for six weeks, only to later decide that they were serious enough to investigate on the eve of the committee vote, after the vetting process had been completed.’
Alabama Sen. Doug Jones, a Democrat, was also critical of Feinstein on Sunday for keeping the allegation against Kavanaugh a secret for so long.
‘I think that it should have been brought up, at least behind closed doors. I mean, it’s a really serious allegation,’ he said. ;At the same time, it’s a very difficult situation, when you have got allegations like this, very sensitive allegations that are important, and you want to respect the wishes of a victim, as well as be fair to the people — the person that’s being accused.’
Jones said that he wished ‘someone had talked about it early on’ in Kavanaugh’s consideration. ‘It could have maybe been cleared up,’ he said.
Senators from both sides of the aisle have been critical of the way that Feinstein handled the accusation, which she never asked Kavanaugh about, even in private sessions
A White House spokesperson said Thursday as the accusation against the judge surfaced that it was curious that the allegation did not come out ‘until the eve of his confirmation’ that Feinstein did not raise the prospect of the damaging information until then.
‘Throughout 25 years of public service, the Federal Bureau of Investigation has thoroughly and repeatedly vetted Judge Kavanaugh, dating back to 1993, for some of the most highly sensitive roles,’ said Kerri Kupec. ‘He has served in the Office of Independent Counsel, the White House, and on the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals, all before his nomination earlier this year to serve as Associate Justice on the Supreme Court.’
Ford’s letter to Feinstein accused Kavanaugh of assault in no uncertain terms.
‘Brett Kavanagh physically and sexually assaulted me during high school,’ the letter said.
In the note, dated July 30, Ford lays out her allegation against Kavanaugh, which matched the details she gave in an explosive interview to The Washington Post on Sunday.
Identifying information in the letter is redacted, including the name of Kavanaugh’s classmate in the room during the incident, who was later revealed to be Mark Judge.
‘I am writing with information relevant in evaluating the current nominee to the Supreme Court,’ Ford’s letter to Feinstein began, according to CNN, which obtained the letter.
Feinstein is the ranking Democrat on the Senate Judiciary Committee, the panel charged with holding Kavanaugh’s confirmation hearing. She is also the senior senator from California, where Ford is a professor at Palo Alto University.
Ford asks the senator for privacy until they can speak in the message that Feinstein kept a secret. She makes it clear in the letter, however, that she wants the information to be used in evaluating the suitability to the high court of Kavanaugh.
The professor’s attorney, Debra Katz, told ‘CBS This Morning,’ that Ford and Feinstein did speak, and Feinstein’s staff was regularly in touch.
‘She’s very satisfied with how Dianne Feinstein handled this allegation. They did come forward and with this letter she said on July 30th she did have a conversation with the senator who made it clear that she thought that these allegations were important and that they were serious. And her staff checked in with us routinely,’ Katz said Monday morning.
Christine Blasey Ford’s letter to Sen. Feinstein on Brett Kavanaugh has been revealed
In a Sunday statement on the matter, Feinstein indicated that she kept the information on close hold even after the conversations because she believed it was up to Ford to come forward with her story.
Feinstein has been heavily criticized by Republicans for not confirming the existence of the letter until Friday, less than a week before the committee was scheduled to vote on Kavanaugh’s lifetime appointment.
Even some Democrats such as Alabama’s Jones expressed frustration Feinstein withheld the information from them.
Ford told The Washington Post that she decided in late August not to come forward because she was concerned the publicity would upend her life and wouldn’t affect Kavanaugh’s confirmation.
‘Why suffer through the annihilation if it’s not going to matter?’ she told the paper.
Ford said she doesn’t believe that it was Feinstein who leaked her name to reporters.
Feinstein passed the letter to the FBI with Ford’s name redacted. The agency declined to investigate but sent it to the White House, which passed it on to all members of the Senate Judiciary Committee.
‘Upon receipt of the information on the night of September 12, we included it as part of Judge Kavanaugh’s background file, as per the standard process,’ the FBI said.
Ford claims in the letter that she feared Kavanaugh might kill her during the alleged incident that she says his friend, now known to be Judge, was said to be in on.
‘Kavanaugh was on top of me while laughing with REDACTED, who periodically jumped onto Kavanaugh. They both laughed as Kavanaugh tried to disrobe me in their highly inebriated state. With Kavanaugh’s hand over my mouth I feared he may inadvertently kill me,’ she wrote.
‘From across the room a very drunken REDACTED said mixed words to Kavanaugh ranging from “go for it” to “stop,”‘ she added.
She noted she was upset to discuss the incident but ‘felt guilty and compelled as a citizen’ to speak.
‘It is upsetting to discuss sexual assault and its repercussions, yet I felt guilty and compelled as a citizen about the idea of not saying anything,’ she said.
Text of letter Christine Ford wrote to Sen. Feinstein on Kavanaugh
July 30 2018
Senator Dianne Feinstein
Dear Senator Feinstein;
I am writing with information relevant in evaluating the current nominee to the Supreme Court.
As a constituent, I expect that you will maintain this as confidential until we have further opportunity to speak.
Brett Kavanaugh physically and sexually assaulted me during high school in the early 1980’s. He conducted these acts with the assistance of REDACTED.
Both were one to two years older than me and students at a local private school.
The assault occurred in a suburban Maryland area home at a gathering that included me and four others.
Kavanaugh physically pushed me into a bedroom as I was headed for a bathroom up a short stair well from the living room. They locked the door and played loud music precluding any successful attempt to yell for help.
Kavanaugh was on top of me while laughing with REDACTED, who periodically jumped onto Kavanaugh. They both laughed as Kavanaugh tried to disrobe me in their highly inebriated state. With Kavanaugh’s hand over my mouth I feared he may inadvertently kill me.
From across the room a very drunken REDACTED said mixed words to Kavanaugh ranging from “go for it” to “stop.”
At one point when REDACTED jumped onto the bed the weight on me was substantial. The pile toppled, and the two scrapped with each other. After a few attempts to get away, I was able to take this opportune moment to get up and run across to a hallway bathroom. I locked the bathroom door behind me. Both loudly stumbled down the stair well at which point other persons at the house were talking with them. I exited the bathroom, ran outside of the house and went home.
I have not knowingly seen Kavanaugh since the assault. I did see REDACTED once at the REDACTED where he was extremely uncomfortable seeing me.
I have received medical treatment regarding the assault. On July 6 I notified my local government representative to ask them how to proceed with sharing this information. It is upsetting to discuss sexual assault and its repercussions, yet I felt guilty and compelled as a citizen about the idea of not saying anything.
I am available to speak further should you wish to discuss. I am currently REDACTED and will be in REDACTED.
In confidence, REDACTED.
Ford said she was able to escape when Kavanaugh’s classmate at Georgetown Preparatory School, Judge, jumped on top of them and sent them tumbling.
The details in the letter line up with what she told the Washington Post.
She told the newspaper she ran from the room, locked herself in a bathroom until she heard the boys go back downstairs, and then fled the house where the party was taking place.
Ford described the attack as taking place during the summer in the early 1980s, when Kavanaugh and a friend — both ‘stumbling drunk,’ Ford charges — corralled her into a bedroom during a gathering of teenagers at a house in Montgomery County.
In her first public comments on the incident, which came to light last week after Senate Judiciary Committee ranking member Feinstein referred a ‘letter’ describing a sexual assault to the FBI, she described what happened when they were high school students in suburban Maryland.
Christine Blasey Ford said she was worried Brett Kavanaugh might kill her during a drunken high school assault back in the 1980s
Brett Kavanaugh in his high school yearbook
Christine Blasey (now Ford) in the 1984 Holton-Arms Yearbook
While his friend watched, Ford recounts to The Post, Kavanaugh pinned her to a bed on her back and groped her over her clothes, grinding against and attempting to pull off her one-piece bathing suit and the clothing she wore over it.
She said she tried to scream and he put his hand over her mouth.
She told the paper she did not recall all the details after such a long time but she thinks the incident occurred in the summer of 1982, when she was 15 and at the end of her sophomore year at the all-girls Holton-Arms School in Bethesda.
Kavanaugh would have been 17 at the end of his junior year at the all-male Georgetown Prep. He has denied the charges.
He told The New Yorker last week: ‘I categorically and unequivocally deny this allegation. I did not do this back in high school or at any time.’
Since learning the woman’s identity, Kavanaugh has issued a second statement denying the claims. Judge also insists the incident never happened.
‘It’s just absolutely nuts. I never saw Brett act that way,’ Judge told The Weekly Standard on Friday before Ford went public.
He added that he had never seen boys ‘rough-housing’ with his female peers from other schools in ways that might have been interpreted negatively: ‘I don’t remember any of that stuff going on with girls.’
Ford said there were no parents home when the teenagers gathered at a house in Montgomery County, Md., not far from the Columbia Country Club pool in Chevy Chase, Md., where she spent her summer.
She named two other teenagers who she said were at the party, who did not respond to The Post’s inquiries, the paper reported.
She described a small family room where each of them had one beer but claimed that Kavanaugh and his friend Mark Judge had started drinking earlier and were heavily intoxicated.
She said she left the party to use the bathroom when she was pushed into a bedroom and the alleged attack occurred. Ford said then as she did in the letter that she has not spoken to Kavanaugh since.
The political fallout from the allegations have yet to be determined. Republicans have questioned the timing of the story’s release but that was before Ford went public and offered her side of the tale.
Two of the key Republican votes are women – Senators Lisa Murkowski and Susan Collins – neither of whom face voters this year. Collins said Monday she wants to hear new testimony from Kavanaugh.
The White House was hoping to pick up some Democratic votes – particularly Joe Manchin of West Virginia, Joe Donnelly of Indiana and Heidi Heitkamp of North Dakota – all of whom voted for Trump’s first nominee Neil Gorsuch and who face voters this fall in their home states, which the president carried in the 2016 election.
But before Kavanaugh is brought before the full Senate, he is due to face a vote in the Judiciary committee, which is comprised of 11 Republicans and 10 Democrats.
Republican Sen. Jeff Flake, whose vote could make or break Kavanaugh’s nomination, is indicating he would vote no on the nominee unless he hears from Ford beforehand.
‘If they push forward without any attempt with hearing what she’s had to say, I’m not comfortable voting yes,’ he told Politico.
Flake told The Washington Post: ‘For me, we can’t vote until we hear more.’
Kavanaugh could proceed to the Senate floor without a vote in the committee but given Republicans 51-seat majority in the upper chamber, and Flake and Collins’ possible no votes, the prospects of the judge’s nomination getting through are very slim.
Washington, D.C. writer Mark Judge has been identified as Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh’s high school friend described in a woman’s so-far unsubstantiated letter accusing Kavanaugh of attempting to sexually assault her when they were 17
Judge posted this weathered 1981 photo on Facebook depicting a beach week with his group of high school friends; Brett Kavanaugh is pictured in the back row, second from the right
Party culture: This group photo of students at Georgetown Prep was taken in 1983, the year Kavanaugh graduated; Judge wrote on Facebook that the mustachioed man at the bottom was his gym teacher whose bachelor party – complete with a stripper – was attended by some of the boys. Judge is pictured directly above the teacher
Brett Kavanaugh, third from left, in his high school yearbook
Ford said she didn’t tell anyone about the incident until 2012 when she was in couples therapy with her husband.
She gave portions of the therapist’s notes to The Post.
The newspaper reports the notes do not mention Kavanaugh by name but say Ford described how 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.’
Additional notes show she described a ‘rape attempt’ in her late teens.
Her husband Russell Ford said that in therapy sessions, his wife recounted being trapped in a room with two drunken boys, one of whom pinned her to a bed, molested her and prevented her from screaming.
He said she used Kavanaugh’s last name and voiced concern that he — then a federal judge — might one day be nominated to the Supreme Court.
The White House sent The Washington Post the same statement Kavanaugh issued last week: ‘I categorically and unequivocally deny this allegation. I did not do this back in high school or at any time.’
Russell Ford said nominees to the court are subject to a higher standard.
‘I think you look to judges to be the arbiters of right and wrong,’ Russell Ford said. ‘If they don’t have a moral code of their own to determine right from wrong, then that’s a problem. So I think it’s relevant. Supreme Court nominees should be held to a higher standard.’
Brettt Kavanaugh (at right, pictured in his high school yearbook), now a 53-year-old U.S. Supreme Court nominee, was 17 years old at the time a woman alleges he tried to force himself on her sexually – an accusation he flatly denies; the boy behind him is Mark Judge
FBI request: Diane Feinstein has referred a letter she has received to the Justice Department.
Ford retained Debra Katz, a prominent Washington D.C. attorney involved in the #MeToo movement
Ford is a clinical psychology professor at Palo Alto University who teaches in a consortium with Stanford University. She has been widely published in academic journals.
She said the incident contributed to anxiety and post-traumatic stress disorder symptoms with which she has struggled.
She contacted the newspaper through a tip line in early July, when Kavanaugh was on President Trump’s shortlist of potential nominees to replace retiring Justice Anthony Kennedy.
But her story leaked as it was reported Feinstein had the letter and was refusing to share it with her Democratic colleagues.
Ford is a registered Democrat.
In late July, she sent a letter to Democratic Rep. Anna Eshoo, her California congresswoman, about the incident. Eshoo passed it to Feinstein, the ranking Democrat on the committee that is weighing Kavanaugh’s nomination.
The Senate Judiciary Committee is scheduled to vote on whether or not to move Kavanaugh’s nomination forward on Thursday.
Donald Trump made Kavanaugh his second Supreme Court nominee, opening up his life to intense scrutiny from Democrats who want to stymie the president’s chances to tilt the court politically to the right
Kavanaugh at the White House in July with his wife and daughters when his nomination was announced
Russell Ford, the husband of Christine Ford
Kavanaugh, from the moment Trump announced his nomination, has stressed he has supported and promoted women.
In his remarks at the White House in July when Trump introduced him as his nominee, Kavanaugh touted his strong record with women throughout his career, noting he’s hired a majority of female law clerks and that Elena Kagan, who is now on the Supreme Court, hired him to teach at Harvard.
He has talked about how he’s a coach for his daughter’s basketball team and had past and present players attend his confirmation hearing.
He had two women – former Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice and liberal lawyer Lisa Blatt – introduce him to senators at his hearing.
His four days of hearings were continually interrupted by protestors – mostly women – who were worried about his record on abortion rights.
Judiciary Committee Republicans scrambled last week to assemble a glowing open letter from 65 women who knew Kavanaugh during his high school years and say ‘he has always been a good person.’ The letter was released Friday morning.
‘For the entire time we have known Brett Kavanaugh, he has behaved honorably and treated women with respect,’ they wrote.
‘Through the more than 35 years we have known him, Brett has stood out for his friendship, character, and integrity. In particular, he has always treated women with decency and respect. That was true when he was in high school, and it has remained true to this day.’
Brett Kavanaugh with his wife Ashley and daughters Margaret and Liza at his nomination announcement
Kavanaugh, who now coaches girls basketball, was captain of his high school varsity team (front, center)
Kavanaugh, center, poses for a photograph with his current and former basketball team members he coaches during testimony before the Senate Judiciary Committee on Thursday
Two women – former Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice and liberal lawyer Lisa Blatt along with Sen. Rob Portman – introduced Kavanaugh at his confirmation hearing
Ford hired Debra Katz, a Washington lawyer known for her work on sexual harassment cases, to represent her since realizing her name could become public.
On the advice of Katz, Ford took a lie detector administered by a former FBI agent in early August.
The results, which Katz gave to The Post, concluded that Ford was being truthful.