Harris Commends Blasey Ford’s Courage, Presses Kavanaugh to Call for an FBI Investigation into Sexual Assault Allegations
WASHINGTON, D.C. – At today’s Senate Judiciary Committee hearing, U.S. Senator Kamala D. Harris (D-CA) commended Dr. Christine Blasey Ford for coming forward, and pressed U.S. Supreme Court Nominee Judge Brett Kavanaugh about the allegations of sexual assault sworn to by Dr. Ford. Specifically, Harris questioned Kavanaugh on whether, like Dr. Ford, he had taken a polygraph, whether he would call for the White House to open an FBI investigation into the allegations, and other issues.
During Dr. Ford’s testimony, Harris drew a clear contrast between Kavanaugh and Dr. Ford stating, “You have passed a polygraph and submitted the results to this committee. Judge Kavanaugh has not. You have called for outside witnesses to testify and for expert witnesses to testify. Judge Kavanaugh has not. But most importantly, you have called for an independent FBI investigation into the facts. Judge Kavanaugh has not.”
She also thanked Dr. Ford for her testimony, stating, “You have bravely come forward. And I want to thank you because you clearly have nothing to gain for what you have done. You have been a true patriot in fighting for the best of who we are as a country. I believe you are doing that because you love this country, and I believe history will show that you are a true profile in courage at this moment in time in the history of our country, and I thank you.”
During the second panel, Harris asked Kavanaugh whether we would call for the White House to authorize an FBI investigation. She was the fifth Senator to do so, asking, “Are you willing to ask the White House to authorize the FBI to investigate the claims that have been made against you?”
Kavanaugh did not answer.
Later, Harris concluded her questioning by asking Kavanaugh, “Did you watch Dr. Ford’s Testimony?”
He responded, “I did not.”
A full transcript of both rounds of questioning is below.
Panel One: Dr. Blasey Ford
Harris: Dr. Ford, first of all, just so we can level-set. You know you are not on trial. You are not on trial.
You are sitting here before members of the United States Senate’s Judiciary Committee because you had the courage to come forward. Because as you have said, you believe it was your civic duty. I was struck in your testimony by what you indicated as your intention when you first let anyone associated with these hearings know about it. And what you basically said is, you reached out to your representative in the United States Congress, hoping that person would inform the White House before Judge Kavanaugh had been named. That's extremely persuasive about your motivation for coming forward.
And so I want to thank you. I want to thank you for your courage, and I want to tell you I believe you. I believe you. And I believe many Americans across this country believe you. And what I find striking about your testimony is you remember key searing details of what happened to you.
You told your husband and therapist, two of the most intimate of your confidants, and you told them years ago about this assault. You have shared your experience with multiple friends years after that and before these hearings ever started. I know having personally prosecuted sexual assault cases and child sexual assault cases that study after study shows trauma, shame, and the fear of consequences almost always cause survivors to, at the very least, delay reporting, if they ever report at all. Police recognize that. Prosecutors recognize that. Medical and mental health professionals recognize that.
The notes from your therapy sessions were created long before this nomination and corroborate what you have said today.
You have passed a polygraph and submitted the results to this committee. Judge Kavanaugh has not.
You have called for outside witnesses to testify and for expert witnesses to testify. Judge Kavanaugh has not.
But most importantly, you have called for an independent FBI investigation into the facts. Judge Kavanaugh has not.
And we owe you that. We owe the American people that. And let's talk about why this is so important. Contrary to what has been said today, the FBI does not reach conclusions. The FBI investigates. It interviews witnesses, gathers facts, and then presents that information to the United States Senate for our consideration and judgment. This committee knows that, in spite of what you have been told.
In 1991, during a similar hearing, one of my Republican colleagues in this committee stated, “These claims were taken seriously by having the Federal Bureau of Investigations launch an inquiry to determine their validity. The FBI fulfilled its duty and issued a confidential report. Well, that could have and should have been done here.
This morning it was said that this could have been investigated confidentially back in July, but this also could have been investigated in the last 11 days since you came forward, yet that has not happened. The FBI could have interviewed Mark Judge, Patrick Smyth, Leland Keyser, you, and Judge Kavanaugh on these issues. The FBI could have examined various maps that have been presented by the prosecutor who stands in for the United States senators on this committee. The FBI could have gathered facts about the music or the conversation or any other details about the gathering that occurred that evening. That is standard procedure in a sexual assault case.
In fact, the manual that was signed off by Ms. Mitchell, the manual that is posted on the Maricopa County Attorney’s website as a guiding principle and best practices for what should happen with sexual assault cases, highlights the details of what should happen in terms of the need for an objective investigation into any sexual assault case. It says, “Effective investigation requires cooperation with a multidisciplinary team that includes medical professionals, victim advocates, dedicated forensic interviewers, criminalists, and other law enforcement members.” The manual also stresses the importance of obtaining outside witness information.
You have bravely come forward. You have bravely come forward. And I want to thank you because you clearly have nothing to gain for what you have done. You have been a true patriot in fighting for the best of who we are as a country. I believe you are doing that because you love this country, and I believe history will show that you are a true profile in courage at this moment in time in the history of our country, and I thank you.
Panel Two: Judge Kavanaugh
Harris: Thank you. Judge Kavanaugh, have you taken a professionally administered polygraph test as it relates to this issue?
Kavanaugh: No, the -- I’ll do whatever the committee wants. Of course, those are not admissible in federal court but I’ll do whatever the committee wants. They’re not admissible in federal court because they’re not reliable, as you know.
Harris: Thank you. So you've not taken one.
Harris: All three of the women who have made sworn allegations against you have called for an independent FBI investigation into the claims. You've been asked during the course of this hearing by four different members, by my count, at least eight times today and also earlier this week on national television whether you would call for the White House to authorize an FBI investigation. Each time you have declined to do so. Now, you know, I know you do, that the FBI is an agency of men and women who are sworn and trained law enforcement. Who in the course of conducting background investigations on nominees for the Supreme Court of the United States and others are charged with conducting those background investigations because they are sworn law enforcement and they have the expertise and the ability and the history of doing that. So I’m going to ask you one last time. Are you willing to ask the White House to authorize the FBI to investigate the claims that have been made against you?
Kavanaugh: Well, I’ll do whatever the committee wants. Of course -
Harris: And I've heard you say that but I have not heard you answer a very specific question that's been asked, which is are you willing to ask the White House to conduct an investigation by the FBI to get to whatever you believe is the bottom of the allegations that have been levied against you?
Kavanaugh: The FBI would gather witness statements. You have witness statements -
Harris: Sir, it's -- I don't want to debate with you how they do their business. I'm just asking are you willing to ask the White House to conduct such an investigation because as you are aware, the FBI did conduct a background investigation into you -
Harris: -before we were aware of these most recent allegations. So are you willing to ask the White House to do that? It’s a yes or no and then we can move on.
Kavanaugh: That’s six background investigations over twenty-six years.
Harris: Sir, as it relates to the recent allegations, are you willing to have them do it?
Kavanaugh: The witness testimony is before you. No witness who was there supports that I was there.
Harris: Okay, I’m going to take that as a no and we can move on. You have said - in your opening statement, you characterized these allegations as a conspiracy directed against you. I'll point out to you that Judge – Justice, now, Neil Gorsuch was nominated by this President. He was considered by this body just last year. I did a rough kind of analysis of similarities. You both attended Georgetown Prep. You both attended very prestigious law schools. You both clerked for Justice Kennedy. You were both circuit judges. You were both nominated to the Supreme Court. You were both questioned about your record. The only difference is that you have been accused of sexual assault. How do you reconcile your statement about a conspiracy against you with the treatment of someone who was before this body not very long ago?
Kavanaugh: I explained that in my opening statement, Senator. Look at the evidence here, the calendars, look at the witness statements, look at Ms. Keyser’s statement.
Harris: Okay. And then do you agree that it is possible for men to both be friends with some women and treat other women badly?
Kavanaugh: Of course, but the point I’ve been emphasizing and that is if you go back to age fourteen for me, you will find people and not just people, lots of people who I’ve been friends with, some of whom are in this room today starting at age 14, women, and who talked about my friendships with them through my whole life and it's a consistent pattern all the way through. Sixty-five women who knew me more than thirty-five years ago signed a letter to support me after the allegation was made because they know me and they were with me and we grew up together. We talked on the phone together and we went to events together. That is who I am. What they've said, what the people who worked with me in the Bush White House, the women there, look at what Sara Day said in centralmaine.com. Look at what the law clerks - I have sent more women law clerks to the Supreme Court than any other federal judge in the country.
Harris: I only have a few seconds left and I’ll just ask you a direct question. Did you watch Dr. Ford's testimony?
Kavanaugh: I did not.
Harris: Thank you.
Kavanaugh: I plan to but I did not. I was preparing mine.
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