On Sunday afternoon, South Carolina Republican Senator Lindsey Graham said he would be open to hearing directly from Christine Blasey Ford, the alleged sexual assault victim of Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh, during the Senate Judiciary Committee confirmation hearings. Ford came forward publicly for the first time in a Washington Post investigation published earlier Sunday.
My statement on Judge Kavanaugh. pic.twitter.com/QGz3uUyzC9
— Lindsey Graham (@LindseyGrahamSC) September 16, 2018
Shortly thereafter, Sen. Jeff Flake (R-Ariz.) reportedly told The Washington Post’s Sean Sullivan that the Senate Judiciary Committee should not move ahead with the vote on Kavanaugh, scheduled for Thursday, until hearing from Ford.
NEWS: Sen. Jeff Flake (R-Ariz.) tells me in an intv he that doesn’t think the Judiciary Cmte should move ahead with its Thursday vote on Kavanaugh until they hear more from Christine Blasey Ford. “For me, we can’t vote until we hear more.”
— Sean Sullivan (@WaPoSean) September 16, 2018
Ford’s account includes being held down, groped, and silenced by Kavanaugh at a high school party in the early ’80s—allegations that Kavanaugh vigorously denies. The details were included in a confidential letter that Sen. Diane Feinstein (D-Calif.), the top Democrat on the Senate Judiciary Committee, has had since July. She did not release the letter to her colleagues because the alleged victim requested confidentiality. After Ford came forward on Sunday, the Senate Judiciary Committee released a statement saying Ford’s account amounted to “uncorroborated allegations from more than 35 years ago,” and blasting Feinstein for not bringing up the letter sooner.
Graham said he agreed with the committee’s concerns about the “substance and process” of the allegations, but maintained that he would “gladly listen to what she has to say.” If Ford does speak to the committee, he added, “it should be done immediately so the process can continue as scheduled.”
Meanwhile, as the Republican strategy to handle the accusations against Kavanaugh takes shape, Politico reported Sunday evening that President Trump is expected “to go after Kavanaugh’s accuser rather than to turn on the judge,” citing three sources close to the White House.
Note: This article has been updated.