Government

Grassley vows 'full, fair' hearing on Kavanaugh allegation from Christine Blasey Ford

'Most important thing' is how nominee convinces panel, senator says

U.S. Supreme Court nominee Judge Brett Kavanaugh arrives Sept. 5 with Judiciary Committee Chairman Sen. Chuck Grassley for the second day of his confirmation hearing on Capitol Hill. (Chris Wattie/Reuters)
U.S. Supreme Court nominee Judge Brett Kavanaugh arrives Sept. 5 with Judiciary Committee Chairman Sen. Chuck Grassley for the second day of his confirmation hearing on Capitol Hill. (Chris Wattie/Reuters)

Sen. Chuck Grassley expects a “full and fair airing” Thursday of an allegation of sexual misconduct brought against President Donald Trump’s nominee to the U.S. Supreme Court.

That’s when the Senate Judiciary Committee is scheduled to hear from Christine Blasey Ford, who accuses Brett Kavanaugh of assaulting her at a house party 36 years ago when both were high school students.

Grassley indicated Wednesday in a conference call with reporters that the fate of the nomination likely will rest on the testimony from Kavanaugh, who has denied the allegation.

“The most important thing is how Kavanaugh convinces the committee tomorrow,” he said.

Judiciary Chairman Grassley said he called the hearing because he and his colleagues take Ford’s allegations seriously and “she deserves to be heard.”

“We intend to provide a respectful and serious setting for her to tell her story,” he said.

To heed Ford’s wishes that the hearing not become a media circus, Grassley said, the hearing will be held in a room smaller than where Kavanaugh’s confirmation hearings were held. That will limit the number of reporters and cameras.

“We’re doing everything to make her feel comfortable,” he said, adding “Iowans and the American people expect fair and thorough process, and we’re going to make it happen.”

Ford and Kavanaugh will be allowed to speak as long as they like.

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Democrats and Republican on the committee have 50 minutes to ask questions. The Republicans have chosen to have a female prosecutor ask their questions.

“We did it to depoliticize the whole process, so we don’t get into the political environments we were in the four days Kavanaugh was before our committee,” he said. “We think this shows more respect for the environment she wants.”

Committee staffers are investigating other sexual misconduct allegations against Kavanaugh. But Grassley said Democrats have not shared information about those accusations and so “the only conclusion I can draw is that they don’t consider them serious.”

Asked about allegations raised Wednesday by a woman represented by attorney Michael Avenatti, Grassley said, “Our committee lawyers are on it.”

A committee vote of sending the Kavanaugh nomination to the full Senate could come as early as Friday.

“It kind of depends on what happens tomorrow,” Grassley said.

l Comments: (319) 398-8375; james.lynch@thegazette.com

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