Washington—Senate Judiciary Committee Ranking Member Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) today delivered opening remarks on Republicans’ decision to ignore Dr. Christine Blasey Ford’s credible testimony and rush through the nomination of Brett Kavanaugh:
“I’m very disappointed that we’re here today voting on this nomination, especially in light of the testimony that we heard just yesterday. My Republican colleagues spent their time at the hearing focused exclusively on partisanship and process.
The majority argued that the sexual assault Dr. Ford experienced was nothing more than a Democratic smear campaign that I’m allegedly orchestrating. My staff and I were accused of leaking Dr. Ford’s letter, which we did not. We were accused of leaking Debra Ramirez’s letter, which we did not.
We were said to have refused to participate in the partisan “investigation.” Yet, it is the Republicans who have refused to talk to Debbie Ramirez or Julie Swetnick.
Republicans also failed to mention Democrats were not notified and had no idea the Chairman’s staff had been communicating with Mark Judge, Patrick Smith, Leland Keyser, and apparently at least two other individuals who have not been named.
Instead, Democrats learned about this outreach when various letters or emails appeared in the press—and in one case we learned about the Republican staff outreach at 10 p.m. the night before the hearing.
Ironically, my colleagues on the other side of the aisle have gone so far as to say this whole situation was nothing more than a nefarious attempt at political theater. I understand why they did that. The Senate is a political body.
However, I was shocked to see Judge Kavanaugh take the same tone and strategy. Candidly, in my 25 years on this Committee, I have never seen a nominee for any position behave in that manner.
Judge Kavanaugh used as much political rhetoric as my Republican colleagues, and what’s more, he went on the attack. He yelled at Democrats for having the temerity to express our frustration for not having access to over 90 percent of his record and said that some Democratic members were “an embarrassment.”
He accused Democrats of “lying in wait” and replacing “advice and consent with search and destroy.” He even went so far as to say that Dr. Ford’s allegations were nothing more than “a calculated and orchestrated political hit, fueled with apparent pent up anger about President Trump and the 2016 election ... “ and “Revenge on behalf of the Clintons.” Unbelievable!
This was not someone who reflected an impartial temperament or the fairness and evenhandedness one would see in a judge. This was someone who was aggressive and belligerent.
I have never seen someone who wants to be elevated to the highest court in our country behave in that manner. In stark contrast, the person who testified yesterday and demonstrated a balanced temperament was Dr. Ford.
She gave powerful testimony about her experience of being physically and sexually assaulted by Brett Kavanaugh. She started by saying how she was terrified to be before the committee but she felt it was her civic duty to tell us what happened to her.
She recounted her experience. “I tried to yell for help. When I did, Brett put his hand over my mouth to stop me from yelling. This is what terrified me the most, and has had the most lasting impact on my life. It was hard for me to breathe and I thought that Brett was accidentally going to kill me. Both Brett and Mark were drunkenly laughing during the attack. They seemed to be having a very good time.
“Brett’s assault on me drastically altered my life. For a very long time, I was too afraid and ashamed to tell anyone these details. I did not want to tell my parents that I, at age 15, was in a house without any parents present, drinking beer with boys. I convinced myself that because Brett did not rape me, I should just move on and just pretend that it didn’t happen.”
She was poised. She was credible. And she should be believed. Unfortunately, despite assuring Dr. Ford her allegations would be taken seriously and she would be treated respectfully, that is not what ultimately happened.
As I noted in my statement yesterday, our colleagues on the other side of the aisle had their minds made up before one word was uttered.
A week ago, the Majority Leader declared, “In the very near future, Judge Kavanaugh will be on the U.S. Supreme Court. So, my friends, keep the faith. Don’t get rattled by all this. We’re going to plow right through it.”
This was not about ensuring a fair process, this was about doing the bare minimum. And finally, to my Republican colleagues who are so upset about the time that has passed, let’s be clear. Dr. Ford asked for confidentiality and that’s what I did.
We all know that if I had referred her allegations to the FBI when she would not want to come forward there would’ve been nothing to do. The FBI would have had an anonymous allegation with no name, no contact information and no way to follow up.
In addition, Dr. Ford’s allegations were referred to the FBI on September 12, over two weeks ago.
If the president and the Republican majority had asked for the FBI to do an investigation at that time, like we asked, it would likely have been finished by now. And most importantly, while Judge Kavanaugh has talked to Republicans repeatedly, none of us have spoken to or questioned Mark Judge, Patrick Smith, Leland Keyser or the polygraph examiner.
None of us have talked to or questioned James Roche, Lynne Brookes, Liz Swisher, Tom Kane or Chris Dudley. Not one senator, as far as I know, has had the opportunity to hear from or question Debra Ramirez or Julie Swetnick.
My colleagues are right that we should not rush to judgment and it’s not fair to assume Judge Kavanaugh is guilty without gathering the information.
But it’s equally unfair to have heard from a credible, poised and brave witness and simply ignore what we heard and move forward immediately.
I don’t know Debra Ramirez. I don’t know whether her allegations are credible. I don’t know Julie Swetnick. I don’t know whether her allegations are credible. But I do know this, Dr. Ford provided credible, powerful testimony that deserves to be considered and not dismissed as a partisan smear campaign, which it was not.
In my opening statement yesterday, I talked about the differences between #MeToo and the Year of the Woman, and I highlighted the seriousness of sexual assault and harassment.
I started out by saying I hoped we would do better and show women that our country, our committee, has in fact changed. This is not a political battle for power, as some have said. This is a serious undertaking with serious allegations.
While the Republican strategy is no longer attack the victim, it is ignore the victim.
The entire country is watching now how we handle these serious allegations. It is in fact a real test for the United States Senate and for our country to see how we treat women, especially for women who are survivors of sexual assault. I believe we can do better. I hope we are better. Thank you.”