Sexual Assault Allegation Could Derail Kavanaugh's Supreme Court Bid
RACHEL MARTIN, HOST:
An allegation of sexual assault against Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh could derail his confirmation - or at least delay it. Christine Blasey Ford says that Brett Kavanaugh assaulted her at a party more than 30 years ago, when they were both in high school. In July, she wrote a letter to California Democratic Senator Dianne Feinstein alerting her to the incident. But Blasey Ford declined to go public until this weekend, when she shared the details of the allegation with The Washington Post. Now several Senate Democrats and a handful of Republicans say his confirmation proceedings should be halted until they have had a chance to question both Blasey Ford and Kavanaugh.
Lisa Banks is one of the lawyers representing Christine Blasey Ford, and she joins us now in our studios. Thanks for coming in this morning.
LISA BANKS: Thank you for having me.
MARTIN: A warning to our listeners here. But I would like to start by having you detail the accusation that your client is making here.
BANKS: OK. Well, I think much as was reported in The Washington Post, which was accurate. When in high school, Ms. Blasey was at a party in the early summer around her junior year, before her junior year, where she ran into or was there with four boys, two girls. Two of the boys were Brett Kavanaugh and his friend Mark Judge. Those at the party were drinking. She describes Brett Kavanaugh and Mark Judge as stumbling drunk.
At one point, she walked away to go to the bathroom and went up a small flight of stairs, at which point she was pushed into a bedroom. The door was locked behind her. And Brett Kavanaugh got on top of her on the bed, pushed her down on the bed on her back, began groping at her, trying to take off her clothes. She happened to have a bathing suit on - a one-piece bathing suit on under her clothes because she had come from a pool party. And because he was so intoxicated, he was unsuccessful in getting her clothes off.
But he remained on top of her. And while she tried to scream or when she tried to scream, he put his hand over her mouth to silence her. Mark Judge was in the room, egging him on. They turned up the music very loudly. And at some point, Mark Judge jumped on the bed, they all toppled off, and she was able to escape.
MARTIN: So this happened - and we should say Brett Kavanaugh unequivocally denies that this happened. But according to your client, this was more than three decades ago. What would you say to observers who question not your client's honesty but her ability to remember it accurately?
BANKS: Well, I think as with many victims of sexual assault, some parts of a story, particularly the timing, might become fuzzy or vague. But her recollection of these events is crystal-clear, the actual attack. And I would also note that she has medical records that corroborate these allegations that far predate Mr. Kavanaugh's nomination. She also - prior to him being nominated and named, she reported to her congresswoman and made a tip to The Washington Post.
MARTIN: The medical records you're talking about are notes that her therapist years ago had taken when she revealed this. Some Republicans are now questioning why this accusation wasn't raised during the 32 hours of testimony in front of the Senate. I want to play a clip from Senator Thom Tillis of North Carolina from CBS yesterday.
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THOM TILLIS: That information never came up. So when we get back to Washington this week, we'll take a look at it. But it really raises a question in my mind about, if this was material to the confirmation process, why on Earth over the past four to six weeks hasn't it been discussed among the committee members?
MARTIN: Is your client motivated at all by politics here?
BANKS: She is not. She's not motivated at all by politics.
MARTIN: Does she regret not stepping forward publicly during the question-and-answer period of the hearing?
BANKS: It was something that she struggled with mightily. She was weighing her desire and her belief that she had a civic duty to provide this information to those making the decision about Brett Kavanaugh with, frankly, her fear about coming forward. And there was going to be great personal risk to her and her family in doing so. And given the political environment and given how the nomination process was rolling along, she made the calculation that she did not want to come forward publicly. And even though she had gone to Senator Feinstein, Senator Feinstein chose to honor her request for confidentiality. And...
MARTIN: Was she satisfied, though, in how the senator handled that request - that it wasn't brought up, that she referred it to the FBI?
BANKS: Yes. I think Senator - from our perspective, from my client's perspective, Senator Feinstein's behavior here was unimpeachable. She requested confidentiality. Senator Feinstein honored that request. And victims of sexual assault have the right to decide whether and when to come forward.
MARTIN: Will your client publicly testify in front of the Senate Judiciary Committee?
BANKS: She will agree to participate in any proceedings that she's asked to participate in.
MARTIN: What does she hope comes of this? Is it her - is the goal to have this confirmation hearing delayed or derailed?
BANKS: Her goal has been and is that this information be provided to the people making the decision so that those making a very important decision can make an informed decision with all the facts.
MARTIN: Lisa Banks, one of the lawyers representing Christine Blasey Ford, a woman who is now publicly accusing Supreme Court justice nominee Brett Kavanaugh of sexual assault, thank you for your time.
BANKS: Thank you. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.