From the time President Donald Trump nominated Brett Kavanaugh for the U.S. Supreme Court on July 19 to the time the U.S. Senate confirmed him Oct. 6 after a politically brutal fight, one man played an outsized role in shepherding through the conservative jurist: Iowa’s Chuck Grassley.
The nearly three month fight, which the Iowa Republican later said included a death threat against him, was one of the final acts of the senator’s leadership of the Senate Judiciary Committee. When the new Congress convenes this week, he’ll become chairman of the Senate Finance Committee instead — a move he says was of his choosing.
When sexual misconduct allegations against Kavanaugh became public late in the confirmation process, Grassley engineered a hearing where Kavanaugh and one of his accusers, Christine Blasey Ford, would testify. But despite calls from Democrats, no other witnesses could.
Blasey Ford accused Kavanaugh of assaulting her at a house party in 1982 when both were high school students.
In an interview with Iowa reporters, Grassley promised a “full and fair” hearing.
“We intend to provide a respectful and serious setting for her to tell her story,” he said.
Grassley brought in a female prosecutor to ask questions on behalf of Republicans on the panel, but she was sidelined when GOP senators railed against the accusations after Blasey Ford had finished testifying.
Kavanaugh forcefully denied the accusations and accused Democrats of a “calculated and orchestrated political hit.”
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Nonetheless, with a final Senate vote expected to be close, Sen. Jeff Flake asked for a rapid FBI investigation.
Grassley initially opposed the idea, but agreed to the delay.
The FBI review did not corroborate the allegations, senators said.
On the Senate floor, Grassley praised Kavanaugh’s “extraordinary record as a judge and citizen” and decried a Democratic “character assassination” he called “beyond the pale.”