Maryland’s U.S. senators on Monday called the sexual assault allegations against Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh “credible” and “very serious” and said the Senate must take the time to allow them to be aired before voting.
“They need to be fully vetted,” Democratic Sen. Ben Cardin said in an interview. “It means the hearing schedule — which was unrealistic from the beginning — needs to be postponed.”
Sen. Chris Van Hollen, also a Democrat, said both the accuser, university professor Christine Blasey Ford, and Kavanaugh “should testify on this issue before an open session of the Senate Judiciary Committee under oath. His nomination should be put on hold until those hearing are complete.”
Later Monday, Charles Grassley, the Republican Iowa senator who chairs the committee, said the panel would indeed convene next Monday for a public hearing with Kavanaugh and Ford “to give these recent allegations a full airing.”
Ford says a drunken Kavanaugh forced himself on her, tried to remove her clothing and put his hand over her mouth when she tried to scream. Both were students at private Montgomery County high schools at the time.
Kavanaugh, nominated by President Donald Trump to succeed retiring justice Anthony Kennedy, said the allegation is “completely false” and that he was willing to discuss it with the Judiciary Committee “in any way the committee deems appropriate.” Ford has also said she would be willing to testify.
Van Hollen, in a written statement, called her allegations “serious and credible.” Cardin said they were “very serious.”
Kavanaugh noted in his denial Monday that the accusation was “from 36 years ago.”
“That’s not relevant to credibility — when it took place and how it took place,” Cardin said.
The Judiciary Committee had been scheduled to vote Thursday on Kavanaugh’s appointment.
Grassley released a statement earlier Monday saying Ford’s allegations would be considered. It wasn’t clear until later whether a new hearing would be held.
“Anyone who comes forward as Dr. Ford has deserves to be heard, so I will continue working on a way to hear her out in an appropriate, precedented and respectful manner,” Grassley said. “The standard procedure for updates to any nominee’s background investigation file is to conduct separate follow-up calls with relevant parties. In this case, that would entail phone calls with at least Judge Kavanaugh and Dr. Ford.”
Grassley said he was disappointed that Democrats — or Ford’s attorney — had not come forward with the allegations sooner.
“Nevertheless, we are working diligently to get to the bottom of these claims,” Grassley said.