Grassley told Hewitt that he has not heard from Blasey Ford yet, saying the committee has reached out to her.
With fragile GOP majorities of just 11-10 on the Judiciary committee and 51-49 in the full Senate, Republican leaders had little room for defectors without risking a humiliating defeat of Trump's nominee to replace retired Justice Anthony Kennedy.
The assault purportedly took place in 1982 when Ms Blasey Ford was 15 and Mr Kavanaugh 17.
On Tuesday Trump doubled down on backing Kavanaugh despite a woman claiming he tried to rape her in the 1980s. "We were looking for a way to get it investigated by an outside investigator and what we found is we had to go through (the rules committee) and we were discussing the pros and cons of doing that, so it hasn't been easy". Brett Kavanaugh was already disqualified to serve on the Supreme Court. This is a much different situation than the Hill-Thomas allegation on a number of levels, but one is especially germane. And he called a question about whether Kavanaugh should withdraw "ridiculous".
"The Democrats will scream bloody murder. and that the Federal Bureau of Investigation should be involved and all the rest of it", he added. Just a day after Christine Blasey Ford's attorney declared that her client was willing to testify about her alleged sexual assault by Brett Kavanaugh, Ford refused until the FBI conducts an investigation of the incident.
"It's very hard for me to imagine that anything happened", Mr. Trump told reporters at the White House.
Chuck Grassley, the Republican chairman of the Senate judiciary committee. We will delay the process until it's finished out.
The stakes of such a hearing for Kavanaugh, who will also testify, are obvious. For example, a friend and neighbor of Blasey Ford's told the San Jose Mercury News that Blasey Ford told her of the incident in 2017 before Kavanaugh was nominated. What about experts who can speak to the effects of this kind of trauma on a victim?
A source close to Trump, who spoke on condition of anonymity, predicted trouble ahead should the Kavanaugh issue not be resolved soon, adding that "with seven weeks to go until an election, this is not the discussion that the Republicans want to be having in the era of the "me too" movement". He has no recollection of it, his counsel said in a statement, and he defended Kavanaugh's integrity. "The FBI's role in such matters is to provide information for the use of the decision makers".
The New Yorker magazine says Ford sent a letter about the allegation to Democrats. "I think that's going to [tick] off an very bad lot of people, including women, who are more prone to vote in this day and age than men are".
Hillary Clinton, the 2016 Democratic presidential candidate, told MSNBC on Tuesday that the White House should request an FBI investigation of the sexual-assault accusation and any refusal to do so by Republicans amounts to rushing to confirm him. In their letter to Wray and McGahn, they ask the Federal Bureau of Investigation to interview Kavanaugh, Ford and other relevant witnesses.
27 years after the Senate shamefully dragged Anita Hill through the mud in the Clarence Thomas hearings, America has a chance to do things better.
Contributing: Eliza Collins, Maureen Groppe, Nicole Gaudiano, David Jackson and Kevin Johnson.
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