Senator Dianne Feinstein of California, the ranking Democrat on the Judiciary Committee, said Tuesday that she “has no way of knowing” if Christine Blasey Ford will appear Thursday to testify before the panel if outside legal counsel is present to question her.
NEW: Sen. Feinstein, D-Ca, just told me "I have no way of knowing" if Dr. Ford is actually going to show up to Kavanaugh hearing Thursday – if outside counsel is asking the questions
— Peter Doocy (@pdoocy) September 25, 2018
Feinstein’s comment came after Politico reported that Judiciary Committee chairman Chuck Grassley had contracted a female attorney to question Ford during the public hearing Thursday. In negotiating her appearance before the Committee, Ford’s attorney has requested that she not be questioned by outside counsel.
Feinstein was the first member of the upper chamber to be made aware of Ford’s allegation against Kavanaugh. She received a letter in July detailing Ford’s claim that Kavanaugh pinned her down and tried to remove her clothes when they were in high school, but did not make the allegations public until roughly two months later, after Ford’s name had been leaked to the media by someone in her office.
In a Monday night letter, Ford’s attorney, Debra Katz, told Grassley that his staff “still has not responded to a number of outstanding questions,” including ones about the specifics of the outside counsel’s role in the proceedings.
The confusion over the hearing comes after a second woman, Deborah Ramirez, accused Kavanaugh of drunkenly exposing himself to her during a dorm party their freshman year at Yale. The allegations, made in a Sunday New Yorker article, have not been substantiated by any eyewitnesses and Ramirez herself has expressed doubts about Kavanaugh’s guilt.
Amid the political chaos touched off by the allegations, it remains unclear whether Majority Leader Mitch McConnell has the requisite votes to confirm Kavanaugh, as a number of Republican Senators have have refused to commit to voting for the nominee before Thursday’s hearing.