Christine Blasey Ford Says FBI Should Investigate Kavanaugh Before She Testifies
MARY LOUISE KELLY, HOST:
Well, NPR congressional reporter Kelsey Snell is here. She's been listening to that interview, and she's going to talk with us more about this controversy over Brett Kavanaugh. Hey, Kelsey.
KELSEY SNELL, BYLINE: Hi there.
KELLY: OK, pick up on some things Senator Whitehouse just said - that he would be very reluctant to participate in a hearing on Monday if Christine Blasey Ford doesn't show up, that it would be a kangaroo hearing. Are you hearing that from other Democrats, that they might boycott?
SNELL: Yeah. This is an idea that's been floating around mostly among staff up until this point. And honestly, Whitehouse is the first Senator that I've heard who seriously admitted that this would be something that they would do - told that Democrats in general are waiting to see what will happen over the coming days.
And it's really important I think to point out that Ford herself hasn't made it clear whether or not she will or won't show up. She left herself a little bit of wiggle room here, and she has a few more days to decide. So it is possible that there - with the idea that this hearing is coming up and that there's a lot of pressure from Republicans for it to happen, that she could decide to appear.
KELLY: And is it completely clear that Republicans are full steam ahead - any sign that they might be willing to pause and let an investigation play out?
SNELL: Yeah, there have been no signs that Republicans are slowing down. And they've been saying since before the letter was released from Ford's attorneys that they wanted to hear from Ford, that they took her accusations seriously. But the opportunity to do that would be Monday.
Judiciary Committee Chairman Chuck Grassley sent a letter to Ford's attorneys saying that the committee wants to give both her and Kavanaugh a chance to tell their stories and to give committee members a chance to hear both sides. He also set a Friday morning deadline for Ford to submit a biography and written testimony if she intends to appear on Monday. And then he talked to reporters out in the halls today.
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CHUCK GRASSLEY: Well, where I'm focused right now is doing everything that we can to make Dr. Ford comfortable with coming before our committee either in an open session or a closed session or a public or a private interviews. That's four different ways she can choose to come.
SNELL: So that's him talking to reporters in the halls and kind of explaining what the process is. And I've heard from several Republicans who repeated that same idea. They want to be as clear as possible that they are giving Ford a number of options to appear, but they want her to do it on Monday.
KELLY: There is just so much at stake here for both parties politically. I mean, we have activists, the Democratic base, seizing this to try and derail Kavanaugh's confirmation - Republicans, President Trump seizing it to try to do the opposite, to get him confirmed. I mean, is that the basic landscape where things stand?
SNELL: Oh, absolutely. We're seeing a situation where both sides are essentially casting blame and, like you said, dug into where they are on this. And, you know, they have identified talking points. Even the moderates like Arizona Senator Jeff Flake and Susan Collins in Maine who originally were pushing for these hearings to happen are now saying that there doesn't need to be an FBI investigation. And they're pushing for it to happen - for the hearing to happen Monday. Here's what Collins said in a radio interview at home in Maine.
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SUSAN COLLINS: But I think it's not fair to Judge Kavanaugh for her not to come forward and testify. Both of them need to testify under oath next Monday before the Judiciary Committee.
KELLY: OK, so that's Senator Collins - senators landing all - in all different places on this. What about the FBI? I mean, the question over whether the FBI will conduct an investigation, won't conduct an investigation, should conduct an investigation - - any movement on that?
SNELL: Yeah, that is kind of the political argument right now that Democrats are really landing on - is they're saying that there needs to be time for this investigation. But the president himself has basically dismissed that as an option. He says that it is the Senate's job to do that, not the FBI. He says the FBI has already done at least six background checks on Kavanaugh in his political career as he's moved up in the judicial ladder.
So the - you know, this is - it's become incredibly unlikely, though it will continue to be a talking point because Democrats say that the only way to really get a good investigation into something that happened 30 years ago would be to do it through the FBI, not from committee staff who aren't necessarily well-versed in this.
KELLY: All right - going to be fascinating to see how all this unfolds between now and Monday. That is NPR congressional reporter Kelsey Snell. Thank you.
SNELL: Thank you. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.