While Democrats including Sen. Mazie Hirono (D-Hawaii) and women’s advocacy groups have demanded for the fair treatment of Dr. Christine Blasey Ford, who has accused U.S. Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh of sexually assaulting her while they were in high school, the White House and the Republican Party are falsely stating that little can be done to investigate Ford’s allegations before the Senate votes on whether to give Kavanaugh a lifetime appointment to the high court.
President Donald Trump claimed Wednesday that investigating a criminal allegation against a Supreme Court nominee is outside the FBI’s purview, but critics have pointed to incidents where the bureau did just that—and the FBI itself denies that it has declined to investigate.
President Donald Trump told reporters outside the White House on Wednesday morning that Ford’s claim is “hard for me to believe,” yet suggested his hands were tied in terms of getting to the bottom of the allegations.
“It would seem that the FBI really doesn’t do that,” Trump said when asked whether federal investigators would probe Ford’s claim that Kavanaugh held her down on a bed during a party when they were both teenagers and tried to remove her clothes.
When the journalist replied that the bureau would investigate “if you asked them to,” the president shrugged and suggested the Senate Judiciary Committee, led by Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa), had the situation under control.
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Citing sources familiar with the internal situation, Bloomberg reported Tuesday that the FBI has not said it won’t or couldn’t conduct an investigation, but that it can’t do so with direction from the White House, which it hasn’t received.
Investigating Ford’s claims would be quite straightforward, former FBI agent Ronald Hosko told Bloomberg.
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“The FBI is basically working for the White House,” Hosko said. “Their job is to dig into the details and let the White House counsel know if there is derogatory information. You can go get yearbooks and start interviewing high school classmates. For creative-minded FBI people, they can generate leads all day long.”
Trump’s claim that the FBI “really doesn’t” investigate claims like Ford’s is discredited further by the 1991 confirmation hearing of Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas, who was subjected to an FBI probe after Anita Hill claimed he had sexually harassed her. The FBI conducted that investigation at the direction of President George H.W. Bush.
As Trump pushed responsibility about calling for an FBI probe onto the GOP members of the Senate Judiciary Committee, Grassley dismissed the possibility of delaying Kavanaugh’s confirmation and said he “saw no reason” for such an investigation.
Trump and Grassley, along with other Republicans, have said Ford should simply tell her side of the story in a hearing next week while Kavanaugh is able to testify on his own behalf—a proceeding which critics say would amount to a repeat of Thomas’s hearing 27 years ago, when Hill was subjected to attacks and ridicule by Republican senators—including Grassley.
Meanwhile, Hill herself on Wednesday called on the president and lawmakers in the Senate to “push the pause button” in order to give Ford and all Americans a proper accounting of the allegations against Kavanaugh before elevating him to one of the most powerful positions in the U.S. government.
“The American public really is expecting something more” than a “sham” hearing designed to quickly push through Kavanaugh’s confirmation, Hill told “Good Morning America” on Wednesday. “They want to know that the Senate takes this seriously.”
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