Democratic senator Dianne Feinstein of California conceded on Tuesday that she can’t attest to the veracity of Christine Blasey Ford’s allegation that Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh sexually assaulted her when they were in high school.
“[Ford] is a woman that has been, I think, profoundly impacted. On this . . . I can’t say that everything is truthful. I don’t know,” Feinstein told reporters on Capitol Hill when she was asked if she believed the allegation.
Feinstein, the ranking Democrat on the Judiciary Committee, has been maligned by her Republican colleagues for failing to disclose the sexual-misconduct accusation after initially being made aware of it via a letter from Ford in July.
Asked why she did not tell her Judiciary Committee colleagues about the allegation at the beginning of the vetting process for Kavanaugh, Feinstein hesitated before citing Ford’s desire to remain anonymous.
“I don’t know; I’ll have to look back and see,” Feinstein told reporters before entering the Senate chamber, according to the New York Times. “The answer is that she asked that it be confidential,” she said upon exiting the chamber.
Judiciary Committee chairman Chuck Grassley has scheduled a public hearing for Monday and invited Kavanaugh and his accuser to testify. Kavanaugh has accepted the invitation while Ford has been unresponsive, despite her attorney’s previous statement that she would be willing to defend her allegation under oath.
Grassley indicated on Thursday morning that he would cancel the hearing if Ford were to refuse to testify and a number of fellow Republicans, including Senator Jeff Flake of Arizona, have said they would support Kavanaugh’s confirmation if his accuser won’t testify.
Democratic leadership, meanwhile, has called for Grassley to delay the hearing pending an FBI investigation, despite the FBI’s insistence that the allegation doesn’t fall within its jurisdiction.