Kavanaugh accuser comes forward, sources say
WASHINGTON — A woman accusing Judge Brett Kavanaugh of sexual misconduct more than 30 years ago came forward publicly Sunday, detailing her allegations about the Supreme Court nominee in an interview with The Washington Post.
The paper said Christine Blasey Ford, a professor in California, reached out to the Post in July as Kavanaugh’s name appeared on short lists to replace Justice Anthony Kennedy, but she opted not to speak with the Post on the record for weeks. As her private outreach to California Democratic Sen. Dianne Feinstein became public over the past week, she decided to go ahead and speak out herself, Sunday’s report said.
“Now I feel like my civic responsibility is outweighing my anguish and terror about retaliation,” Ford told the Post.
Ford said she kept silent about the alleged incident until she was in couples’ therapy with her husband in 2012. Her husband, Russell Ford, recalled to the Post that she talked during their 2012 sessions about the incident and said she had mentioned Kavanaugh’s last name and that he was a federal judge who might be on the Supreme Court eventually.
In a statement on Friday, Kavanaugh denied the reported allegations that while at a party during his time in high school, he pushed a woman into a room, locked the door to the room along with another male and tried to take off the woman’s clothes.
“I categorically and unequivocally deny this allegation. I did not do this back in high school or at any time,” his statement said.
Asked for a response to Ford’s detailed allegations, White House deputy press secretary Raj Shah offered CNN the same denial Kavanaugh issued previously.
The White House would not comment further.
Asked how Kavanaugh is doing since Ford went public with her story, a source close to Kavanaugh said the judge “remains steadfast in his denial and is determined not to let a single, unverified allegation overshadow his long judicial record and his lifetime of public service. He is buoyed by the immediate outpouring of support from lifelong friends, including 65 women who knew him in high school and signed a letter on Thursday attesting to his character after initial news reports of the allegation.”
CNN was not provided a copy of the letter sent to Feinstein, but a source who had the letter read the contents of a redacted version to CNN, in which the accuser who detailed her allegations to Feinstein wrote she had “received medical treatment regarding the assault” and said she expected it to remain confidential as she felt compelled to say something.
“Kavanaugh physically pushed me into a bedroom as I was headed for a bathroom up a short stairwell from the living room,” read the letter. “They locked the door and played loud music precluding any successful attempt to yell for help. Kavanaugh was on top of me while laughing with REDACTED, who periodically jumped onto Kavanaugh. They both laughed as Kavanaugh tried to disrobe me in their highly inebriated state. With Kavanaugh’s hand over my mouth I feared he may inadvertently kill me.”
The letter as read to CNN said the woman had “not knowingly seen Kavanaugh since the assault,” but had seen the other person once, and that he “was extremely uncomfortable seeing me.”
“It is upsetting to discuss sexual assault and its repercussions, yet I felt guilty and compelled as a citizen about the idea of not saying anything,” the letter read.
The Post said Ford originally contacted her representative in the House, California Democratic Rep. Anna Eshoo, whose office sent her letter to Feinstein.
A person familiar with Ford’s story said that at around the time she sent Eshoo the letter, Ford discussed with friends how she might go public with her story. Over the past few months, Ford has felt pressure on a personal level to share her story and has grappled with the idea, which partly prompted the letter, the source said.
‘Trying to attack me’
Going through the allegation she had made in her letter, Ford told the Post that Kavanaugh and his friend were drunk at the time and that he put his hand over her mouth when she tried to scream.
“I thought he might inadvertently kill me,” Ford said. “He was trying to attack me and remove my clothing.”
The Post reports that while her husband recalls Ford mentioning Kavanaugh’s name in therapy, notes from her therapist that were reviewed by the newspaper do not mention his name. The therapist’s notes say that four boys were involved, but Ford said that was an error on the therapist’s part. She told The Post there were four boys at the party but only two in the room.
According to the Post, Ford is a professor at Palo Alto University who teaches in a consortium with Stanford University.
Ford said she was able to escape Kavanaugh and his friend, whom she identified as Mark Judge. Judge denied the allegations in an interview with The Weekly Standard, a conservative publication, after The New Yorker detailed them on Friday.
“I never saw Brett act that way,” Judge said.
Democrats call for delay
Citing unreleased records from Kavanaugh’s official work over the years, Democrats have called for a delay in considering his nomination. The Senate Judiciary Committee has set its vote on his nomination for this coming Thursday. A Republican source tells CNN that the vote is still scheduled to occur.
Feinstein issued a statement on Sunday afternoon in support of Ford and calling for the FBI to investigate the matter before the Senate advances Kavanaugh’s nomination.
“I support Mrs. Ford’s decision to share her story, and now that she has, it is in the hands of the FBI to conduct an investigation,” Feinstein said. “This should happen before the Senate moves forward on this nominee.”
Iowa GOP Sen. Chuck Grassley, the committee chairman, said in a statement following the report that the timing of the allegations shortly before the committee’s scheduled vote was “disturbing.”
“It raises a lot of questions about Democrats’ tactics and motives to bring this to the rest of the committee’s attention only now rather than during these many steps along the way,” Grassley said. “Senator Feinstein should publicly release the letter she received back in July so that everyone can know what she’s known for weeks.”
A spokesman for Grassley told CNN that the chairman and Feinstein routinely hold bipartisan staff calls with nominees when updates are made to their background files.
“Given the late addendum to the background file and revelations of Dr. Ford’s identity, Chairman Grassley is actively working to set up such follow-up calls with Judge Kavanaugh and Dr. Ford ahead of Thursday’s scheduled vote,” the spokesman, Taylor Foy, said.
South Carolina GOP Sen. Lindsey Graham allowed for the possibility that the committee could receive testimony from Ford.
“If the committee is to hear from Ms. Ford it should be done immediately so the process can continue as scheduled,” Graham, a member of the committee, said in a statement.
New York Sen. Chuck Schumer, the chamber’s top Democrat, called for Grassley to postpone the vote “until, at a very minimum, these serious and credible allegations are thoroughly investigated.”