At Senate Hearing, Leahy Asks Ford And Kavanaugh About Sexual Assault Allegations

Sep 27, 2018

As the senior Democrat on the Senate Judiciary Committee, Sen. Patrick Leahy plays a key role in the panel's review of allegations — and Leahy said he believes the allegations of sexual assault brought against U.S. Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh are true.

Leahy has said it's critical to have the FBI thoroughly investigate this case before the Senate Judiciary Committee votes on the nomination.

And at the outset of Thursday's hearing, Leahy told Senate Judiciary Chairman Charles Grassley that the best way to determine the truth in this case would be to order an FBI investigation, which is something that Grassley has refused to do.

"To use your words this morning, you want to reach the truth," Leahy said to Grassley. "The easy way to do that — ask the FBI to investigate. It's what we've always done."

During his question period with Ford on Thursday morning, Leahy said he believes her allegations are true.

"There are millions of victims and survivors out there who've been inspired by your courage. I am. ... You sharing your story is going to have a lasting, positive impact on so many survivors in our country," Leahy said to Ford.

During Leahy's line of questioning, the senator wanted to know if Ford was absolutely certain that it was Kavanaugh who assaulted her at a high school party in the 1980s.

"Some senators have suggested you were simply mixed-up about who assaulted you. You do remember what happened, do you not?" Leahy asked Ford. 

"Very much so," she replied.

While Leahy's interactions with Ford were cordial, his exchanges with Kavanaugh in the afternoon session were testy; they often interrupted each other.

In her statement, Blasey Ford said another person, Mark Judge, was in the room when Kavanaugh sexually assaulted her. Leahy asked Kavanaugh if he thought it would be a good idea for this person to be called as a witness.

"Should have been handled in the due course, Senator, when it came in," Kavanaugh said.

But Leahy said he disagreed.

"I've been on this committee 44 years," Leahy said. "Both Republicans and Democrats. I've never seen somebody that critical and not allowed to be ... called to be testified."

Leahy also had questions about Kavanaugh's high school yearbook page.

"In your yearbook, you talked about drinking and sexual exploits, did you not?" Leahy questioned Kavanaugh. 

"Senator, let me take a step back and explain high school," Kavanaugh said, shortly before the two men began to talk over one another.

The yearbook content exchange frustrated both Kavanaugh and Leahy.

"If we want to sit here and talk about whether a Supreme Court nomination should be based on a high school yearbook page, I think that's taken us to a new level of absurdity," Kavanaugh said.

"Well we got a filibuster but not a single answer," Leahy said as his time to question Kavanaugh drew to a close.

Prior to Thursday's hearing, Leahy had already announced he will vote against the nomination because he doesn't think Kavanaugh has been truthful in his testimony about several policy questions.

Leahy has called on Grassley to delay a vote on the Kavanaugh nomination until an investigation has been completed.