(CNN) — Republican sources on Capitol Hill say it’s uncertain if the Senate Judiciary Committee hearing scheduled for next Monday to address the sexual assault accusation against Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh will actually occur.
Entering Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell’s office, Sen. Orrin Hatch, R-Utah, told reporters that lawmakers were meeting to figure out the next steps — including if the hearing would proceed without Ford.
Senate Judiciary Chairman Chuck Grassley of Iowa said Tuesday morning that he had yet to hear back from Christine Blasey Ford, who has accused Kavanaugh of sexually and physically assaulting her while they were both in high school.
Grassley told Hugh Hewitt on his radio show that Ford has not accepted his request to appear before the committee.
“We have reached out to her in the last 36 hours, three or four times, by email, and we have not heard from them,” Grassley said. “So it kind of raises the question, do they want to come to the public hearing or not?”
Sen. John Cornyn, R-Texas, called Ford’s silence “pretty telling,” but added they hope she does testify.
“That’s pretty telling, she hasn’t responded to the committee’s normal processes and we don’t know if she’s coming or not but this is her chance. This is her one chance. We hope she does,” Cornyn said.
Democrats maintain that they want the FBI to reopen Kavanaugh’s background check ahead of a hearing.
The 10 Democrats on the Senate Judiciary Committee penned a letter to FBI Director Christopher Wray and White House Counsel Don McGahn on Tuesday arguing that the FBI needs to complete an investigation before the hearing is scheduled to take place on Monday.
“The Committee should have the completed report before any hearing occurs and we ask that you take immediate steps to make sure that we have the FBI’s report before we proceed,” the senators wrote.
If the FBI doesn’t investigate the allegation, said Sen. Dianne Feinstein of California, the top Democrat on the judiciary panel, she thinks the hearing should be delayed.
“The important thing is to get this investigated,” Feinstein said. “There was a witness there — and that was this fellow (Mark) Judge. …”
Republican Sen. Susan Collins of Maine, a key Senate vote on Kavanaugh’s nomination, said it would be “puzzling” if Ford did not testify on Monday.
“That’s very puzzling to me,” she said about the uncertainty of Ford’s appearance. “I’ve said from the beginning that these are very serious allegations and she deserves to be heard. She is now being given an opportunity to come before the Senate Judiciary Committee to answer questions, and I really hope that she doesn’t pass up that opportunity.”
When asked about Democrats’ request for the FBI to reopen its background investigation of Kavanaugh before the hearing takes place — and whether that could be a deciding factor for Ford to testify, Cornyn said: “She is not really in a position to make conditions, in my view.”
Since Kavanaugh was first nominated, Republicans have continued to emphasize the importance of following the proper procedures — a message President Donald Trump has even touched on since the accusation came to light.
However, Feinstein’s request for an investigation ahead of the hearing breaks with procedure. She also has questioned the speed of the hearing and the fact that there will be only two witnesses, Kavanaugh and Ford.
But a source who supports Kavanaugh notes that it was Feinstein who declined to release the letter back in July before the hearings, and rejects any notion that the FBI should step in and investigate first.
“That’s not how it works,” he said.
“The hearing is the investigation. At the heart of the investigation is what Ford says. If Ford doesn’t want an investigation than she shouldn’t have gotten into this game in the first place,” he said.
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