President Trump on Wednesday said he is eager to hear from Christine Blasey Ford, the woman who is accusing Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh of sexual assault when they were teenagers. But the president also expressed doubt that Ford’s testimony would be “credible” enough to change his opinion of Kavanaugh.
“I really want to see her; I would really want to see what she has to say,” Trump told reporters on the South Lawn of the White House before departing for North Carolina, where he will survey damage from Hurricane Florence.
“If she shows up and makes a credible showing, that’ll be very interesting, and we’ll have to make a decision,” the president continued, before proceeding to cast doubt on her testimony in advance: “But I can only say this. He is such an outstanding man, [it’s] very hard for me to imagine anything happened.”
Ford’s attorney, Lisa Banks, said on Tuesday her client is still willing to testify, but “wants the FBI to investigate her allegations before talking to the Senate Judiciary Committee about it.”
Trump signaled that he is unwilling to ask the FBI to reopen its background investigation of Kavanaugh.
“It would seem that the FBI really doesn’t do that,” Trump said before noting the bureau did, in fact, conduct a total of six separate background investigations as Kavanaugh rose to prominence a federal court judge.
“The FBI has been very involved with respect to Justice Kavanaugh. They know Justice Kavanaugh very well,” the president said. “They’ve investigated about six times before, and it seems that they don’t do that.”
Trump said that he is leaving it up to the Republican members of the Senate Judiciary Committee, who invited both Ford and Kavanaugh to appear at a public hearing next week.
“There’s no reason that we should have a public hearing on Monday,” Banks told CNN on Tuesday night. “It’s too important to be rushed through.”
Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa, responded, “Nothing the FBI or any other investigator does would have any bearing on what Dr. Ford tells the committee, so there is no reason for further delay,” and said the invitation for Monday “still stands.”
“If she shows up, that would be wonderful,” Trump said Wednesday. “If she doesn’t show up, that would be unfortunate.”
Trump again said he felt “very badly” for Kavanaugh and his family, and said that the allegations have been “very unfair” to him.
“They’re hurting somebody’s life very badly, and it’s very unfair,” Trump said. “He has an unblemished record. This is a very tough thing for him and his family.”
The president did not express such sentiment for Ford — who, according to Banks, has received death threats since going public with her allegations. The 51-year-old research psychologist, who teaches at Palo Alto University in California, has been forced to “relocate” her family, her attorney said.
“Her worst fears have materialized,” Banks wrote in a letter to Grassley. “While Dr. Ford’s life was being turned upside down, you and your staff scheduled a public hearing for her to testify at the same table as Judge Kavanaugh in front of two dozen U.S. Senators on national television to relive this traumatic and harrowing incident.
“While no sexual assault survivor should be subjected to such an ordeal,” Banks added, “Dr. Ford wants to cooperate.”
In a series of tweets, Grassley condemned threats against Ford while dismissing her call for an FBI investigation.
“Dr. Ford shouldn’t be threatened or insulted & she deserves to be heard,” Grassley wrote. “I expect my colleagues on both sides of the aisle to be respectful & treat this situation with the sensitivity it deserves.”
Grassley continued: “We’re going to continue to try to hear from Dr. Ford in any format she’s comfortable w open session/closed session/private staff interviews/public staff interviews bc her information is very important. We’ve provided an opportunity for her to put her story fwd on Monday.”
He added: “If Senate Dems think they need the FBI to investigate, why didn’t they alert the FBI on July 30? As soon as I learned of the allegations from the Washington Post on Sunday I moved swiftly to follow up on Dr. Ford’s allegations. As the FBI has said its role here is complete.”
Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., said he is ready to bring the confirmation process to a close.
“This has been a drive-by shooting when it comes to Kavanaugh,” Graham told reporters. “I’ll listen to the lady, but we’re going to bring this to a close.”
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