President Donald Trump called on Christine Blasey Ford to testify before the Senate Judiciary Committee about her claim that Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh attempted to sexually assault her as a teenager.
But he also dismissed the idea that the FBI should investigate the incident, something Blasey Ford had called for before she testifies.
“I really want to see her,” Trump told reporters before leaving town Wednesday morning to visit areas affected by Hurricane Florence. “I really would want to see what she has to say.”
On Tuesday, Blasey Ford’s lawyers sent a letter to the Senate Judiciary Committee saying that while she wants to cooperate with the panel, “an FBI investigation of the incident should be the first step in addressing her allegations.” But Senate Republicans have signaled that if Ford wants to testify, she’d have to do it next week, not after the lengthy delay an FBI investigation would cause. “Monday is her opportunity,” Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said Tuesday.
Trump echoed that argument, saying that the FBI doesn’t investigate claims like Blasey Ford’s and noting that Kavanaugh has passed previous vettings for federal posts.
A Justice Department spokesperson said that the FBI forwarded a letter it received about Blasey Ford’s allegation to the White House counsel’s office under guidelines for conducting background checks, telling CNN that the allegation “does not involve any potential federal crime.” There is precedent, however. During Justice Clarence Thomas’ confirmation, the George H.W. Bush White House asked the FBI to investigate claims of sexual harassment made by Anita Hill.
“It would seem that the FBI really doesn’t do that,” Trump said. “They’ve investigated about six times before, and it seems that they don’t do that.”
Trump signaled that he was open to a delay in the confirmation process after Blasey Ford recently accused Kavanaugh of sexual assault back when they were both in high school. But he also seemed to support Republican arguments that the confirmation vote should move ahead quickly, noting that they’d already delayed the vote a week.
“Well, I would let the senators take their course,” he said. “Let the senators do it. They’re doing a very good job. They’ve given tremendous amounts of time. They’ve already postponed a major hearing.”
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