GOP senator attacks colleagues for protecting privacy of assault victim


Republican Sen. Chuck Grassley is leading a reprehensible response to a sexual assault allegation against Brett Kavanaugh.

Senate Judiciary Committee chairman Chuck Grassley (R-IA) says he's willing to hear the testimony of the woman who says Brett Kavanaugh tried to rape her when they were in high school. But he's lashing out at Democratic senators for not violating the woman's privacy by outing her to him earlier this summer.

On Sunday, Christine Blasey Ford went public with her harrowing account of being sexually assaulted by Kavanaugh. The allegations were first reported last week, but Ford's identity was not known.

By Monday morning, amid calls from senators in both parties to investigate the allegations before proceeding with a vote on Kavanaugh's nomination, Grassley released a statement excoriating Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-CA) for protecting Ford's privacy.

Grassley accused Feinstein of having "deprived her colleagues of the information necessary to do our jobs," complaining that "the Minority withheld even the anonymous allegations for six weeks."

But as Feinstein noted in a statement she released last week, when she revealed the existence of a letter from the as-yet-unnamed Ford, "That individual strongly requested confidentiality, declined to come forward or press the matter further, and I have honored that decision."

Grassley also went after Ford's lawyer, writing that "Dr. Ford's attorney could have approached my office, while keeping her client confidential and anonymous, so that these allegations could be thoroughly investigated."

As Ford explained to the Washington Post, she had wanted to remain anonymous, believing she and her family would be smeared if she came forward with her story.

"Why suffer through the annihilation if it’s not going to matter?" she told the Post.

However, as she saw more and more reporting — some of it inaccurate — she felt compelled to come forward.

"I feel like my civic responsibility is outweighing my anguish and terror about retaliation," she said.

That anguish was borne out almost immediately by reports that Trump and the Republicans are preparing an all-out assault on Ford, including having Republican senators attack her credibility.

And after Ford did go public, Grassley's committee immediately put out a statement attacking Ford's story as "uncorroborated allegations from more than 35 years ago, during high school," and similarly attacking Democrats for failing to violate Ford's privacy.

But Ford’s account is backed up by notes from two different therapists she spoke to in 2012 and 2013, and Ford has also taken a polygraph, which concluded that she was being truthful.

Feinstein was trying to respect and protect the privacy of her constituent, who wanted to remain anonymous. Now, Republicans are trying to use that against Feinstein and against Ford — instead of focusing on the very serious allegations against the man they're trying to rush onto the Supreme Court.

Published with permission of The American Independent Foundation.