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Wednesday
Sep192018

Trump says hard for him to imagine Christine Blasey Ford's allegation against Brett Kavanaugh is true

Win McNamee/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- President Donald Trump says he wants to hear from the accuser of his Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh but said it's hard for him to "imagine that anything happened," referring to the sexual assault allegation brought by professor Christine Blasey Ford.

"If she shows up and makes a credible showing, that will be very interesting and we'll have to make a decision," President Trump said. "But I can only say this, he is such an outstanding man. Very hard for me to imagine that anything happened."

Asked directly by ABC News' Jonathan Karl if Ford's allegation is disqualifying for Kavanaugh if true, the president didn't directly answer, except to say he needs to hear her story first.

"I would really want to see her. I would want to see what she has to say," he said.

The president again brushed off the idea of asking the FBI to reopen its background check into Kavanaugh, something he has the power to order, saying "it would seem the FBI doesn't do that" and deferring to senators to handle the process from this point forward.

Through her attorney, Ford has said she is willing to testify before the Senate Judiciary Committee but first wants the FBI to investigate the matter to help ensure all the facts have been vetted.

"A full investigation by law enforcement officials 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," her attorneys wrote in a letter to Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Charles Grassley, reported first on CNN and obtained by ABC News.

Senate Judiciary Chairman Charles Grassley on Wednesday reiterated his invitation for Ford to talk to senators "in whatever format she deems appropriate," and a GOP committee staffer said Republicans had offered to send staff to California to interview her in person.

In a letter to Ford's attorney's, Grassley said, “I sincerely hope that Dr. Ford will accept my invitation to do so, either privately or publicly, on Monday. In the meantime, my staff would still welcome the opportunity to speak with Dr. Ford at a time and place convenient to her."

Grassley gave them until 10 a.m. Friday to respond if Ford is going to talk to the committee on Monday.

He also responded to her legal team's call, on Ford's behalf, that there be an FBI investigation before there's talk of her testifying.

“The FBI does not make a credibility assessment of any information it receives with respect to a nominee. Nor is it tasked with investigating a matter simply because the Committee deems it important," his letter said.

"The Constitution assigns the Senate, and only the Senate, with the task of advising the President on his nominee and consenting to the nomination if the circumstances merit. We have no power to commandeer an Executive Branch agency into conducting our due diligence. The job of assessing and investigating a nominee’s qualifications in order to decide whether to consent to the nomination is ours, and ours alone,” Grassley said.

A key Republican, Maine Sen. Susan Collins, on Wednesday appeared to support Grassley's view that Ford should talk to the committee in some form on Monday and that the hearing should go forward.

"Since we know that Dr. Ford had already secured the services of an attorney and presumably knows what she wants to say and there's a week -- more than a week -- between when she made the allegations and the date of the hearing, which was slated for next Monday, I just don't understand why the hearing shouldn't go forth," Collins told Maine radio station WVOM.

"I don't think she can reject all those options because otherwise there are these very serious allegations hanging over the head of a nominee who has emphatically denied them, and that's just not a good way for us to end," Collins said.

The president said the Senate has already given a lot of extra time to the process due to the late-breaking allegation and questioned the motives of Sen. Dianne Feinstein, the top Democrat on the Judiciary Committee, for not bringing forward a letter detailing the allegation, which she has had for months, sooner.

"Why didn't Senator Feinstein bring this up at her meeting with judge Kavanaugh?" he said. "Why did they wait until everything was finished and then bring it up? That doesn't look good."

The president expressed sympathy for his Supreme Court pick, saying "it's a very unfair thing what's going on" and calling Kavanaugh "an extraordinary man."

"This is a very tough thing for him and his family and we want to get it over with but at the same time we want to give tremendous amounts of time. If she shows up, that would be wonderful. If she doesn't show up, that would be unfortunate," he said.

Kavanaugh has been personally "shaken" by the accusations against him, according to an official closely familiar with the nomination process, but remains "resolute" and "unflinching" in his categorical denials, the official said.

Asked how Kavanaugh might hold up during a possible interrogation in front of the Senate Judiciary Committee next Monday, this official said he's going to be "very, very believable."

Unlike the past two days, Kavanaugh has not come to the White House on Wednesday, according to the official.

Rep. Anna Eshoo, D-Calif., who Ford reached out to initially over the summer, describes her as a “gentle, honest person who may change people’s minds.”

Eshoo told ABC News' Karl on the "Powerhouse Politics" podcast that she met with Ford face-to-face over the July Fourth holiday and discussed her story.

“My constituent is not a creature of Washington, D.C.," Eshoo said. "That's not who she is.”

Eshoo said she thinks Ford is aware of the personal risks of coming forward.

“She is I believe a very honest person. And what was so apparent to me was how this the effect it had on her in her in her adult life," Eshoo said. "That's why I think she has courage she's demonstrated an enormous amount of courage to come forward to tell her full story to the American people.”

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Wednesday
Sep192018

Senate passes measure requiring streaming services to pay artists for pre-1972 music 

Medioimages/Photodisc/Thinkstock(WASHINGTON) -- The Music Modernization Act, which would substantially change the way musicians are compensated for their work played on streaming services, passed a major milestone in the Senate this week.

The Senate approved the bipartisan bill unanimously on Tuesday, following House passage of a similar bill in April. The measures must now be reconciled before the legislation is sent to President Trump for his expected signature.

“I’m so pleased we’re one step closer to historic reform for our badly outdated music laws,” Sen. Orrin Hatch, a Utah Republican and one of the bill's sponsors, said in a statement. “The Music Modernization Act provides a solution, and it does so in a way that brings together competing sides of the music industry and both sides of the political spectrum. As a songwriter myself, I know firsthand how inefficient the current music marketplace is. The MMA will help all the songwriters and other music creators who make music such a rich, vibrant, and essential part of American culture.”

The Senate legislation, which bears the same name as the House bill, combines the Allocation for Music Producers Act, which provides royalties for music producers; the CLASSICS Act, which provides royalties for songs created before 1972 from digital streaming services; and a watered down Fair Play, Fair Pay Act, which does not include the provision that broadcast radio should pay for songs.

"The passage of the Music Modernization Act by the Senate is a historic moment for the tens of thousands of music creators across the nation," said Neil Portnow, president and CEO of the Recording Academy. "Since first proposing the music industry unite around a common bill in 2014, our members have lobbied in Washington and all 50 states to achieve this vision. When creators raise their voices for fairness, they make great progress."

SiriusXM, one of the bill's biggest opponents, compromised after some last-minute negotiations.

Sirius XM said it has been paying artists for years and the major reason it opposed the bill was that terrestrial radio doesn't compensate artists for music they released before or after 1972, and it said that was unfair.

Paying artists for their pre-1972 music played on streaming services and now terrestrial radio is a major component of the bill.

"SiriusXM, joined with Azoff Music Management, the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA), and the National Music Publishers Association (NMPA), to announce an agreement on the Music Modernization Act," a statement released by SiriusXM said.

The changes build upon existing language to confirm in law that artists will receive 50 percent of performance royalties from SiriusXM for pre-1972 sound recordings, and confirm that the existing sound recording royalty rate for satellite radio will remain in place unchanged until 2027, an additional five-year period.

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Wednesday
Sep192018

Christine Blasey Ford's high school classmate: Brett Kavanaugh controversy has felt 'personal'

ABCNews.com(WASHINGTON) -- Samantha Guerry, a former classmate of Christine Blasey Ford, who has accused Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh of sexual assault when they were both in high school in suburban Maryland decades ago, said it’s “just not possible” that her friend is mistaken on his identity.

“I find that very, well frankly it makes me angry,” Guerry said on ABC News’ “The Briefing Room.”

“It's really a way of dismissing her and suggesting that her memory isn't clear," Guerry said. "I think that when you have someone's hand over your mouth and you think that you might die by accident you know who you're dealing with."

Republican Sen. Orrin Hatch told CNN on Monday he believed Ford must be "mistaken" and that Kavanaugh told the senator he wasn't at the party.

“Senator Hatch spoke to Judge Kavanaugh earlier, and Judge Kavanaugh continued to categorically deny Dr. Ford’s allegations. He told Senator Hatch he was not at a party like the one she describes, and that Dr. Ford, who acknowledged to the Washington Post that she 'did not remember some key details of the incident' may be mistaking him for someone else,” Hatch's spokesman Matt Whitlock said in a statement to ABC News.

Guerry, who has not recently spoken with Ford, also sought on Wednesday to offer a different picture of the woman who was a girlhood friend saying that she is "strong" and "is holding up as well as can be expected given the circumstances."

"It's been personal. It's family," Guerry said of the increased scrutiny on Ford since the sexual assault allegation became public.

“I think what everyone needs to remember that what she asked for is confidentiality. She didn't ask to be a political football in this,” Guerry said of Ford.

Ford initially reached out confidentially to her congresswoman in California, Democratic Rep. Anna Eshoo, but now that the allegation and her name have been made public, Guerry said her friend now has to face a difficult conversation "in such a tremendous public forum and at such a tremendously important time for our country."

This week Guerry joined more than 900 alumnae of the Holton-Arms School — a private school for girls in Bethesda, Maryland — in signing an open letter, voicing their support for Ford.

The letter, which was also signed by Hollywood actress Julia Louis-Dreyfus who graduated from the school in 1979, was signed by women who graduated between 1962 and 2018.

"We believe Dr. Blasey Ford and are grateful that she came forward to tell her story," the letter reads. "It demands a thorough and independent investigation before the Senate can reasonably vote on Brett Kavanaugh's nomination to a lifetime seat on the nation's highest court. Dr. Blasey Ford's experience is all too consistent with stories we heard and lived while attending Holton. Many of us are survivors ourselves."

Ford is open to testifying to lawmakers, but not before the FBI investigates the matter, one of her lawyers, Lisa Banks, said Tuesday night. Democrats have echoed calls for the FBI to investigate the matter before any hearing takes place.

Kavanaugh has repeatedly denied the allegation. Republicans on the Senate Judiciary Committee invited Ford and Kavanaugh to a hearing on Monday and said on Wednesday that they offered her the option to testify privately or publicly.

President Donald Trump has said while he wants to hear from Ford, it's hard for him to "imagine that anything happened," referring to the sexual assault allegation brought by Ford.

Guerry said she knew Kavanaugh because she dated one of his friends and that the guys were a "tight-knit group."

"They partied as much as you would expect teenaged boys to party," she said adding that the level of partying wasn't unique to the Washington D.C. private school scene.

This is a developing story. Please refresh for details.

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Wednesday
Sep192018

Trump calls Florence 'one of the wettest we've ever seen from the standpoint of water'

iStock/Thinkstock(WASHINGTON) -- President Donald thanked first responders in a Twitter video where he described Florence as “tough” one of the “wettest” hurricanes ever.

"This is a tough hurricane," he said. "One of the wettest we've ever seen from the standpoint of water."

He added: "Florence has been a nasty one. A big one like that area certainly has never seen before.”

The storm has claimed at least 37 lives.

Posted to the president's Twitter account Tuesday afternoon, a day before he was scheduled to visit North Carolina for a briefing on the hurricane, the video also includes the president’s appreciate of the Federal Emergency Management Agency, the U.S. military, Coast Guard and law enforcement.

The president's latest description of the natural disaster comes after harsh criticism from San Juan Mayor Carmen Yulín Cruz and others regarding his characterization of response efforts in Puerto Rico during and after Hurricane Maria last year.

"I think Puerto Rico was incredibly successful. Puerto Rico was actually our toughest one of all because it is an island," the president said last Tuesday. "I actually think it is one of the best jobs that's ever been done with respect to what this is all about."

Puerto Rico Gov. Ricardo Rossello recently announced the revised official death toll of 2,975 from the hurricane last year after the government commissioned an independent study.

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Wednesday
Sep192018

'I don't have an attorney general,' Trump says in interview 

ABC News(WASHINGTON) -- President Trump on Tuesday launched a fresh attack at Jeff Sessions, his beleaguered attorney general, saying in an interview that he "doesn't have an attorney general."

Trump made the remark in an interview with The Hill. According to the news organization, the president repeatedly expressed his "disappointment" with Sessions for recusing himself from the Russia collusion investigation.

Asked whether he'll fire Sessions, Trump replied, "We'll see what happens."

"A lot of people have asked me to do that," he continued. "And I guess I study history, and I say I just want to leave things alone, but it was very unfair what he did."

Trump said his unhappiness with Sessions extends beyond the Russia investigation.

"I’m not happy at the border, I’m not happy with numerous things, not just this," he said. "I’m so sad over Jeff Sessions because he came to me. He was the first senator that endorsed me. And he wanted to be attorney general, and I didn’t see it."

Trump also referred to Sessions as "mixed up and confused" in the interview and claimed that Sessions' former Senate colleagues were "not nice" to him.

 The Department of Justice declined to comment.

Trump's attacks on Sessions are well documented.

Over the Labor Day weekend, Trump took swipes at Sessions over the indictments of Rep. Chris Collins, R-N.Y., and Rep. Duncan Hunter, R-Calif.

"Two long running, Obama era, investigations of two very popular Republican Congressmen were brought to a well publicized charge, just ahead of the Mid-Terms, by the Jeff Sessions Justice Department. Two easy wins now in doubt because there is not enough time. Good job Jeff......" Trump said in a tweet.

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Wednesday
Sep192018

Anita Hill advises Senate to 'push the pause button' on Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh

Marla Aufmuth/Getty Images for Texas Conference for Women(WASHINGTON) -- Nearly three decades after Anita Hill testified about her own sexual harassment allegations against now-Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas, she says the Senate Judiciary Committee should "push the pause button" on high court nominee Brett Kavanaugh.

"My advice is to push the pause button on this hearing, get the information together, bring in the experts and put together a hearing that is fair, that is impartial, that is not biased by politics or by myth and bring this information to the American public," she said.

Hill said whether Christine Blasey Ford testifies is not about whether conditions are ideal, but if they are even reasonable.

"We're talking about whether the conditions are actually tenable, whether or not it is going to be anything more than just a sham proceeding so that the senators can say we gave her a chance to talk and then move on to doing exactly what they were intending to do before she came forward," she said.

Shortly before his confirmation, Hill accused Thomas of making unwanted advances and lewd remarks when they worked at the Education Department and Equal Employment Opportunity Commission in the 1980s, which he denied.

Hill's 1991 Senate testimony occurred five days after her allegations went public, said at the time she felt the public hearing was meant to deter her from going forward with her testimony 27 years ago. Hill said she sees the same sentiment in how Republican Senators are approaching Ford’s allegation against Kavanaugh but that six days is not enough time for Senators to inform themselves on the situation and consult experts.

"It occurs to me that two things are going on, that either they don't take this seriously, that they aren't concerned about this complaint as many Americans are, or that they just want to get it over. I'm not sure which is in play," she said, adding, "Maybe they're not concerned or maybe they just don't know how to handle this kind of a situation."

Speaking exclusively on "Good Morning America" on Wednesday, Hill told ABC News chief anchor George Stephanopoulos that she backs Ford’s request for an FBI investigation into her allegation that an intoxicated Kavanaugh sexually assaulted her at a high school party 36 years ago, which he has vehemently denied.

“Absolutely, it's the right move,” Hill said of Ford’s request. “The hearing questions need to have a frame and the investigation is the best frame for that. A neutral investigation, that can pull together the facts, create a record, so that the senators can draw on the information they receive to develop their question.”

If the purpose of the hearing is to get to the truth, an investigation is unavoidable, Hill said, though cautioning senators to proceed with the U.S. public in mind.

"The American public really is expecting something more," she told GMA."The American public wants to know about what happened and they want to know that the Senate takes this seriously."

She did not offer direct advice to Ford but said she should be taking advice from her attorney. Hill urged the Senate Judiciary Committee to hold off on going forward with the hearing and take time to put together a fair, impartial hearing.

Hill is a professor of political science and women's, gender and sexuality studies at Brandeis University. She also wrote an opinion piece for The New York Times this week. She wrote that there is no way for the committee to re-do the 1991 hearings, but there is an opportunity to do things better this time around.

She wrote that the lack of process for vetting sexual harassment allegations against a Supreme Court nominee shows that the Judiciary Committee hasn't learned anything from the Thomas hearings or the #MeToo movement.

"To do better, the 2018 Senate Judiciary Committee must demonstrate a clear understanding that sexual violence is a social reality to which elected representatives must respond," she wrote, adding that a hearing should be guided by experts familiar with sexual violence to ensure proceedings are fair and neutral.

She also wrote in the column that Kavanaugh has the "burden of persuasion" in this situation because he is the one seeking a lifetime appointment to the country's highest court.

"It is an honor and a privilege to be nominated and to serve. It is not an entitlement and so a person coming into that position on the supreme court for a lifetime really has to have the full confidence of the American public. We need to be able to believe in the integrity of our courts, and that means believing in the integrity of the individuals who are on it," she said when asked about that comment on GMA.

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Wednesday
Sep192018

Trump directs release of declassified surveillance warrant on Russia probe

iStock/Thinkstock(WASHINGTON) -- Here's what you need to about FISA warrants, some of the most closely held secrets in the U.S. government.

What is FISA

FISA, which stands for Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act, is the law that governs how the U.S. government can collect foreign intelligence using its considerable surveillance capabilities.

To conduct foreign intelligence surveillance, the FBI must submit a FISA warrant to the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court (FISC) and obtain approval. The FISC is made up of 11 federal judges who work on a rotating basis in a secure area of the Justice Department and can authorize applications for these secret surveillance warrants.

How does the process work?

The FISA process differs from ordinary criminal wiretap warrants in that the underlying reason for the surveillance does not have to involve a criminal violation. For a FISA warrant to be approved, the FISC must find there is probable cause that the subject of the surveillance is an agent of a foreign power.

What happened with the FBI FISA application?

In October of 2016, the FBI did just that with regards to Carter Page, an energy consultant and former foreign policy adviser to the Trump presidential campaign. In a partially declassified FISA application, the FBI stated it believed Page was “an agent of a foreign power” and “the subject of targeted recruitment by the Russian Government.”

FISA warrants have limitations and expire after 90 days unless they are renewal. A new FISA application must be submitted to the FISC for approval for every renewal.

At the urging of Republicans in Congress, President Trump authorized the declassification of the Carter Page FISA application and its three subsequent renewals.

A redacted version of those applications, numbering more than 400 pages, was released last July.

What happens now?

Now that President Trump has ordered the declassification of other previously redacted parts of the Carter Page FISA application, what happens now?

According to sources familiar with the process, the intelligence community will conduct an equities review. That means all the intelligence agencies that contributed to the relevant portions of the FISA applications that have been ordered to be declassified will have the opportunity to make recommendations for redactions.

Those recommendations will be compiled by the Office of the Director of National Intelligence and will be presented to the White House.

The President of the United States is the declassifier-in-chief. He has the final say on whether to accept the recommendation of the intelligence community or ignore it.

It is worth noting, this FISA has previously gone through the declassification process and the pages the president has ordered declassified were previously withheld after that review.

What is the deadline? When will all of this work be completed? It’s not clear. As the ODNI said in a statement, Monday, they are working “expeditiously” with interagency partners to conduct the review. A source familiar with the process say they are working quickly but are not wed to any particular timeline.

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Wednesday
Sep192018

Congresswoman, first to talk to Kavanaugh accuser, calls her 'honest person'

U.S. House of Representatives(WASHINGTON) -- Rep. Anna Eshoo, the California Democrat who was first approached by Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh’s accuser over the summer, describes Christine Blasey Ford as a “gentle, honest person who may change people’s minds.”

Eshoo told ABC News' "Powerhouse Politics" podcast host Jonathan Karl that she met with the college professor for almost two hours face-to-face over the July Fourth holiday when she wanted to share her story.

“My constituent is not a creature of Washington, D.C.," Eshoo said. "That's not who she is.”

Eshoo, who said Ford discreetly called her district office, recounted how she wanted to make sure the alleged victim felt comfortable, and that her privacy would be respected. “I think that, you know, her soft-spoken nature but the power of her story, and her honesty and her intelligence will certainly be on display," Eshoo said of possible public testimony by Ford.

“She is I believe a very honest person. And what was so apparent to me was how this the effect it had on her in her in her adult life," Eshoo said. "That's why I think she has courage she's demonstrated an enormous amount of courage to come forward to tell her full story to the American people.”

The Democratic congresswoman said she believes Ford understands the risks of coming forward.

“She certainly waived her privacy and the consequences to herself and her family, and she's demonstrated her willingness to risk these factors to present the truth. This is a terrifying experience to move from living in the neighborhood of going to work every day.

Eshoo continued, saying “She really is your next door neighbor a professor that lives next door. You know she's involved in her in her children's lives from you know all their sports undertakings in that. And there will be in my view they'll be the American people will see a real contrast between the two given where they come from.”
 
Eshoo says that once Ford relayed her story, she decided Eshoo should move the revelations forward. “I subsequently shared with her that a letter should be written to Senator Diane Feinstein. She represents her as well.”

The California congresswoman said she wants to make sure there is no rush to judgment. “I believe that my constituents should be received in that hearing room with the utmost respect -- number one -- and with a presumption of honesty.”

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Tuesday
Sep182018

Kavanaugh accuser wants FBI investigation before testifying: Lawyer

Holton Arms School Yearbook(WASHINGTON) -- The woman who has accused Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh of sexual assault when both of them were in high school will not testify before the FBI investigates the matter, one of her lawyers, Lisa Banks, said Tuesday night.

In a letter to Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Charles Grassley, reported first on CNN and obtained by ABC News, lawyers for professor Christine Blasey Ford, said "a full investigation by law enforcement officials 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."

Grassley had invited both Ford and Kavanaugh to testify before the committee on Monday.

“There's no reason to have a public hearing Monday. This is being rushed through. It's too important. It's not a game. This is a serious situation,” Banks said on CNN.

The letter to Grassley says, "As you know, earlier this summer, Dr. Ford sought to tell her story, in confidence, so that lawmakers would have a fuller understanding of Brett Kavanaugh’s character and history. Only after the details of her experience were leaked did Dr. Ford make the reluctant decision to come forward publicly."

"In the 36 hours since her name became public, Dr. Ford has received a stunning amount of support from her community and from fellow citizens across our country. At the same time, however, her worst fears have materialized. She has been the target of vicious harassment and even death threats. As a result of these kind of threats, her family was forced to relocate out of their home. Her email has been hacked, and she has been impersonated online," the letter continues.

"While Dr. Ford’s life was being turned upside down, you and your staff scheduled a public hearing for her to testify at the same table as Judge Kavanaugh in front of two dozen U.S. Senators on national television to relive this traumatic and harrowing incident. The hearing was scheduled for six short days from today and would include interrogation by Senators who appear to have made up their minds that she is “mistaken” and “mixed up.” While no sexual assault survivor should be subjected to such an ordeal, Dr. Ford wants to cooperate with the Committee and with law enforcement officials," the letter says.

"As the Judiciary Committee has recognized and done before, an FBI investigation of the incident should be the first step in addressing her allegations," the letter continues. "A full investigation by law enforcement officials 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."

The letter ends with the lawyers saying, "We would welcome the opportunity to talk with you and Ranking Member Feinstein to discuss reasonable steps as to how Dr. Ford can cooperate while also taking care of her own health and security."

ABC has reached out to Grassley for comment. The White House had no immediate response.

Shortly after the letter was revealed, Sen. Dianne Feinstein, the top Democrat on the Judiciary Committee, released a statement saying, “The decision to come forward or not come forward has always been Christine Blasey Ford’s, and that includes her participation in a hearing."

"I agree with her 100 percent that the rushed process to hold a hearing on Monday has been unfair and is reminiscent of the treatment of Anita Hill, Feinstein continued. "I also agree that we need the facts before senators—not staff or lawyers—speak to witnesses."

“We should honor Dr. Blasey Ford’s wishes and delay this hearing. A proper investigation must be completed, witnesses interviewed, evidence reviewed and all sides spoken to. Only then should the chairman set a hearing date."

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Tuesday
Sep182018

Sen. Mazie Hirono's message to American men: 'Just shut up and step up'

Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call via Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- Back in 1991, when Anita Hill came forward with allegations of sexual harassment against then-Supreme Court nominee Clarence Thomas, it was an all-male Senate Judiciary Committee that grilled her as the nation watched.

On Tuesday, reporters asked Sen. Mazie Hirono, one of only four women on the current Senate Judiciary Committee, if having women on it now will shape the way the recent allegation against Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh is handled.

The Democrat from Hawaii sighed, and then laughed.

"Of course it helps that there are women on that committee, but you know what?"

"Guess who's perpetuating all of these kinds of actions? It's the men in this country, and I just want to say to the men in this country: Just shut up and step up. Do the right thing, for a change," Hirono said.

She said she expected the men on the committee, who are the majority of the 21 members, to do the same.

On Sunday, Christine Blasey Ford, a professor at Palo Alto University, told the Washington Post that Kavanaugh sexually assaulted her at a party when they were teenagers. She'd told a congresswoman earlier in his confirmation process about the experience, and the information was passed along to ranking member Sen. Diane Feinstein, who didn't make the letter from Ford public because Ford asked that she remain anonymous, Feinstein said in a statement last week.

In the Washington Post article published Sunday, Ford claimed a drunken Kavanaugh pinned her to a bed at a house party when she was 15 years old. Kavanaugh, who she described as laughing with another friend in the room, tried to remove her clothes and covered her mouth when she tried to scream, Ford told the Washington Post.

The Senate Judiciary Committee plans to hold a public hearing on Monday to hear from both Kavanaugh and Ford, but whether they will -- or whether the hearing goes forward -- is uncertain.

Kavanaugh has repeatedly denied the allegations.

“I categorically and unequivocally deny this allegation. I did not do this back in high school or at any time," he said in his first statement on Friday. Senate Republicans followed Kavanaugh's denial by releasing a letter from 65 women who say they knew Kavanaugh in high school and attested that "he has behaved honorably and treated women with respect."

"Brett attended Georgetown Prep, an all-boys high school in Rockville, Maryland. He was an outstanding student and athlete with a wide circle of friends. Almost all of us attended all-girls high schools in the area," the letter reads. "Brett has stood out for his friendship, character, and integrity. In particular, he has always treated women with decency and respect."

The White House stood by Kavanaugh but didn't go on the attack against his accuser. "As the story notes, we are standing with Judge Kavanaugh’s denial," White House spokesperson Raj Shah told ABC News in response to Kavanaugh's accuser coming forward to the Washington Post.

Though Democrats and Republicans on the committee have both said they believe Ford deserves to be heard, they're at odds over the way to do so.

Some Democrats argue that the Kavanaugh allegation should be investigated by the FBI and then resubmitted as part of his background check file for committee review before any testimony from Ford and Kavanaugh.

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