Mazie Hirono is right: Republicans are only pretending to care what Dr. Christine Blasey Ford has to say about Brett Kavanaugh.
Senate Republicans say they want to hear Dr. Christine Blasey Ford testify before the Senate Judiciary Committee about being sexually assaulted by Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh. But so far they've made it painfully obvious that they don't really mean it.
And Sen. Mazie Hirono (D-HI) called out her GOP colleagues' dissembling for what it is: "bullshit."
Hirono said the Republicans who serve with her on the Senate Judiciary Committee, led by Chairman Chuck Grassley (R-IA), have been engaging in "seat of the pants stuff" — rushing to hold a hearing Monday, just a week after Ford said she'd be willing to testify before Congress, and only pretending to be seriously interested in what Ford has to say.
"The latest [example] being a letter from the chairman to the Democrats saying, 'We have done everything we can to contact [Ford],'" Hirono said.
"That is such bullshit, I can hardly say it."
Hirono has good reason to be frustrated. Grassley and other Judiciary Committee Republicans have been taunting Ford — insisting they're bending over backward to accommodate her, yet putting the burden on her if she refuses the limited "opportunity" they are giving her to testify.
“We have reached out to her in the last 36 hours three or four times by email, and we’ve not heard from them, so it kind of raises the question — do they want to, do they want to come to the public hearing or not?” Grassley said in an interview this week with right-wing radio host Hugh Hewitt.
Grassley failed to mention that Ford has been forced into hiding after receiving death threats and having her phone number leaked and email hacked, so it stands to reason that she might not be checking those.
But even worse, in the same interview with Hewitt, Grassley made it clear he has no interest whatsoever in hearing from all possible witnesses about the incident.
“We’ve got two people involved, and two people ought to be able to present their stories, and then we’ll have to be the jury,” Grassley said.
As Hirono put it, that's bullshit.
There are plenty of actual or potential witnesses who could either be called right now, or discovered in the process of an investigation.
Mark Judge, who Ford claims was in the room during her assault, doesn't want to testify — but he could be subpoenaed. One of Ford's therapists who she talked to about the assault in 2012 or 2013, or one of Ford's friends she confided in this summer, could also be called to testify. And while none of Ford's former classmates are claiming firsthand knowledge of the incident yet, some are already speaking out to say they remember rumors about it going around school; perhaps investigators could find someone who remembers more than just rumors.
In the letter Hirono was likely referring to with her "bullshit" remark, Grassley said he had offered Ford "many options" for how to testify before the committee.
"We've offered her a public hearing, a private hearing, a public staff interview, or a private staff interview," Grassley wrote. "The staff is even willing to fly to California, or anywhere else, to meet her."
But the many options Grassley failed to mention are the only options that really matter.
Grassley didn't offer to give Ford more time to prepare. Public or private, D.C. or California, the basic offer is still, "It's Monday or the highway."
Grassley also didn't offer to call on the FBI to investigate the matter first, as Ford requested — even though the FBI investigated sexual harassment claims by Anita Hill against Supreme Court nominee Clarence Thomas in 1991, and took just three days to do it.
Nor did Grassley call for any other independent investigative body to conduct a non-partisan investigation, interview Ford in a nonjudgmental, trauma-conscious way, and find other witnesses who could corroborate her story.
As Ford's attorneys explained to Grassley in a letter, a full investigation "will ensure that the crucial facts and witnesses in this matter are assessed in a non-partisan manner, and that the Committee is fully informed before conducting any hearing or making any decisions."
But Grassley claimed in response that the FBI issue was out of his hands and that the White House would have to ask for an investigation, but he isn't even asking Trump to act.
He also claimed the Hill case was somehow different because Hill hadn't gone public with her testimony at that point, while Ford has.
But Ford going public doesn't investigating all the facts about her case less important. And it doesn't make her opponents less determined to smear her.
If Grassley wants to do right by Ford and victims of sexual assault everywhere, he should also listen to what Hirono said Tuesday.
"I just want to say to the men of this country: Just shut up and step up. Do the right thing for a change," Hirono said. "We have to create an environment where women can come forward and be heard and be listened to."
Published with permission of The American Independent Foundation.