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Kavanaugh Hearing: Sen. Grassley responds to calls for FBI investigation into Christine Blasey Ford’s sexual assault allegations

Grassley addresses Senate Democrats’ criticisms for not conducting FBI investigation into sexual assault allegations

Senate+Judiciary+Committee+Chairman+Chuck+Grassley+arrives+at+the+committee%27s+hearing+wihere+Brett+Kavanaugh+and+Christine+Blasey+Ford+will+testify+on+Capitol+Hill+in+Washington%2C+D.C.%2C+on+Sept.+27%2C+2018.+%28Olivier+Douliery%2FAbaca+Press%2FTNS%29
Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Chuck Grassley arrives at the committee's hearing wihere Brett Kavanaugh and Christine Blasey Ford will testify on Capitol Hill in Washington, D.C., on Sept. 27, 2018. (Olivier Douliery/Abaca Press/TNS)

Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Chuck Grassley arrives at the committee's hearing wihere Brett Kavanaugh and Christine Blasey Ford will testify on Capitol Hill in Washington, D.C., on Sept. 27, 2018. (Olivier Douliery/Abaca Press/TNS)

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Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Chuck Grassley arrives at the committee's hearing wihere Brett Kavanaugh and Christine Blasey Ford will testify on Capitol Hill in Washington, D.C., on Sept. 27, 2018. (Olivier Douliery/Abaca Press/TNS)

Emily Wangen, Politics Reporter

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Just before the Senate Judiciary Committee and Christine Blasey Ford left on break during her and Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh’s hearing in front of the committee Thursday, Sen. Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa, responded to Democrats’ criticisms of the chairman’s unwillingness to bring in an FBI investigation.

“I cannot let [these] go by,” he said of Senate Democrats’ comments regarding Grassley’s unwillingness to conduct an FBI investigation into the allegations. He echoed his opening remarks by contending that if her letter had been released sooner an investigation could already be underway and her “privacy could have been protected.”

Sen. Patrick Leahy, D-Vt., who appeared in the hearings with attorney Anita Hill and then-Supreme Court Nominee Clarence Thomas 27 years ago, called on Grassley to conduct an FBI investigation.

“We are doing a lot less for these women today,”  Leahly said.

Grassley, as chairman of the Judiciary Committee, opened Thursday’s committee hearing into allegations of sexual assault against U.S. Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh with testimony from his accuser, Christine Blasey Ford.

During his prepared remarks, Grassley called out Democrats on the committee, Ranking member Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif., in particular, for withholding Ford’s allegations over the summer and not meeting with Kavanaugh and other committee members after the allegations were made public.

“If they’re really concerned with going to the truth, why wouldn’t you want to talk to the accusers, the process and procedure is what the committee always does when we receive allegations of wrongdoing,” Grassley said.

The hearing is set in the Dirksen Senate Office Building, a different location than the rest of Kavanaugh’s hearing. Grassley told reporters Wednesday in a news conference call that this move was to create a more comfortable environment for Ford and to prevent a “media circus.”

“This will be stark contrast to the grandstanding and chaos that we saw from the other side during the previous four days in this hearing process.” Grassley remarked to the committee regarding Thursday’s proceedings.

“I want to apologize to you both for the way you’ve been treated and I intend for today’s hearing to be safe and comfortable and dignified for both of our witnesses,” Grassley said.

Republican senators on the committee have prosecutor Rachel Mitchell asking questions on their behalf, although Grassley said Wednesday that any senator is welcome to use their allotted time to personally ask questions.

“This is an incredibly complex and sensitive subject to discuss, and its not an easy one to discuss,” Grassley said during his opening remarks of the hearing. “That is why the senators on this side of the dice believe an expert who has deep experience and training in interviewing  victims of sexual assault and investigating sexual assault allegations should be asking questions.”

During his opening remarks Thursday, Grassley acknowledged other sexual misconduct allegations from two other women, Julie Swetnick and Deborah Ramirez.

“We have been trying to investigate other allegations,” Grassley said Thursday.

A date for the Senate to vote to confirm Kavanaugh is scheduled for Friday.

This is a developing story – check back for updates.

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