The Thursday vote to confirm Brett Kavanaugh as Anthony Kennedy’s replacement on the U.S. Supreme Court is now delayed as the Senate Judiciary Committee prepares to hear testimony from the woman who accused him of sexual assault.
The New York Times reports Senator John Kennedy (R-La.) told reporters Monday afternoon that Charles E. Grassley (R-Iowa), chairman of the Judiciary Committee, said senators would have an opportunity to hear from both Christine Blasey Ford—Kavanaugh’s accuser—and Kavanaugh himself in a public setting where senators would be able to ask questions of both. This was confirmed by a Senate Republican aide who said it would take place on Monday—meaning Thursday’s confirmation vote was delayed.
White House spokesman Raj Shah said, “Judge Kavanaugh looks forward to a hearing where he can clear his name of this false allegation. He stands ready to testify tomorrow if the Senate is ready to hear him.”
Shah’s description of Kavanaugh’s current mood differs greatly from that of an unnamed White House official whose words appeared in the CNN chyron saying the judge had been behind closed doors at the White House for nine hours and was “shaken, but focused.”
Sen. Susan Collins (R-Me.) told CNN she spoke with Kavanaugh Friday, and he “emphatically denied” the accusations against him. Collins said they spoke after the allegations were known but before Blasey Ford’s name was made public.
“Last week, the Judiciary committee staff informed me of this letter. I read the letter. At that point, we had no idea who had sent it, and I noticed the date of the letter and wondered why the information had not been released long ago,” Collins said. “I asked Judge Kavanaugh when I had my final hour-long telephone call with him on Friday about the letter and the allegations that it contained. He emphatically denied that the allegations were true. He said that he had never acted that way, not only with this unnamed accuser but with any woman. He was absolutely emphatic about that.”
A reporter asked Collins “If this turns into a he said/she said, how do you make the decision?”
Collins said, “That’s why it’s important that we have testimony under oath with a lot of questions asked of both of them.”
There are a lot of comparisons to draw between this situation and that in 1991 between Anita Hill and Clarence Thomas, but the stark difference between the two is that Kavanaugh’s time in front of the mic comes in the middle of the #MeToo movement when women are being empowered to come forward and tell their stories of sexual harassment, sexual assault and sexual abuse.
Two of Kavanaugh’s former girlfriend’s have come forward to defend his honor on CNN.
Maura Fitzgerald, who dated Kavanaugh in college, told CNN that she and the Supreme Court nominee “have been good friends since high school. I dated him in college and he was and is nothing like the person who has been described. He always conducted himself honorably with me at all times when we were together. He was always a perfect gentleman, and I vouch for him completely.”
Maura Kane, who dated Kavanaugh in high school, told the network “I’ve been friends with Brett Kavanaugh for over 35 years, and dated him during high school. In every situation where we were together he always respectful, kind and thoughtful. The accusations leveled against him in no way represent the decent young man I knew. We remain good friends and I admire him as a husband, father and professional.”
This is the time when I gently remind you that just because your experience wasn’t the same as someone else’s doesn’t mean their experience didn’t happen.
The Times reports that Donald Trump also spoke up to defend his nominee Monday, telling reporters that Kavanaugh is an “outstanding” judge with an unblemished record. He also called the idea that Kavanaugh might withdraw his nomination ridiculous, and said he was willing to accept the confirmation vote delay in order to “air the new information.”
“He is somebody very special; at the same time, we want to go through a process, we want to make sure everything is perfect, everything is just right,” Trump said. “If it takes a little delay, it will take a little delay — it shouldn’t certainly be very much.”
Blasey Ford has accused Kavanaugh of sexually assaulting her at a social gathering in the 1980s when they were both teenagers. She detailed the incident in a letter sent to California Senator Dianne Feinstein in July. Feinstein—the top Democrat on the Senate Judiciary Committee—kept the letter secret until last week, reportedly out of respect for Blasey Ford’s wish to remain anonymous.
Now that both Blasey Ford and her accusation are in the public eye, the Senate Judiciary faces the weighty task of asking the right questions, soliciting the right answers and making the right decision when it comes to the Supreme Court nomination of one Brett Kavanaugh.