Gillibrand and Hirono criticize GOP's handling of Kavanaugh sexual assault allegation

Democratic Sens. Mazie Hirono and Kirsten Gillibrand on Thursday heavily criticized GOP senators' handling o...

Posted: Sep 21, 2018 4:54 AM
Updated: Sep 21, 2018 4:54 AM

Democratic Sens. Mazie Hirono and Kirsten Gillibrand on Thursday heavily criticized GOP senators' handling of a sexual assault allegation against Supreme Court Justice nominee Brett Kavanaugh and asserted that the incident, as well as death threats against the woman making the accusation, should be investigated by the FBI.

"Why isn't Judge Kavanaugh asking for an FBI investigation if (he has) nothing to hide?" Hirono asked during a news conference introducing a letter from 1,000 alumnae of the Holton-Arms School supporting Christine Blasey Ford, who was attending the school when she alleges Kavanaugh sexually assaulted her.

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Hirono of Hawaii and Gillibrand of New York joined other Democrats and Ford's legal team in calling for an FBI investigation into the matter. Senate Judiciary Chairman Chuck Grassley and President Donald Trump have continued to oppose having the FBI handle the incident. Grassley has instead scheduled a hearing for Monday for Ford and Kavanaugh to testify about the alleged incident.

Grassley, a Republican from Iowa, set a deadline of Friday at 10 a.m. ET for a decision from Ford on whether she will testify, and it's unclear whether she'll choose to appear.

Gillibrand, who has supported legislation on sexual assault and harassment in the military and in Congress, said she would not recommend that Ford testify without an FBI investigation.

"The option is show up Monday or don't show up at all," Gillibrand said. "I consider that to be bullying. I consider that to be disregarding. I consider that to be something set up for failure. They would like a he-said-she-said scenario, because you know what happens in those scenarios? The men are typically believed."

Gillibrand also said Republicans aren't taking Ford's accusations seriously, citing a top Judiciary Committee staffer's now-deleted tweet that said Republicans are "unfazed and determined" to confirm Kavanaugh.

"Well, obviously they are not objective. They are not the professional staff that would be necessary in the FBI to do this kind of investigation -- someone who is nonpartisan, someone who has been trained to do this level investigation," she told CNN. "And so having that quote out there, they've already ... decided. They don't want the facts. They don't want this investigation done."

Ford's story was leaked to the press earlier this month before she came forward to The Washington Post. Her lawyer told CNN she's now receiving death threats over the allegation. Hirono said the threats constitute being labeled as "intimidation of a witness." She called on the FBI to investigate the assault allegation "and all the threats she's undergoing."

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