Schumer Floor Remarks On Respecting Dr. Ford And The Scope Of The FBI Investigation Into Judge Kavanaugh

October 4, 2018

Washington, D.C. – U.S. Senator Chuck Schumer today spoke on the Senate floor [at approx.. 11:37 a.m.] regarding the bravery of Dr. Ford in coming forward to testify and the limited scope of the FBI investigation into Judge Kavanaugh. Below are his remarks:

Mr. President, it's another morning in the Senate and another partisan diatribe coming from my good friend – and he is my good friend - the Majority Leader. Instead of looking at what happened, that a young woman came forward because she felt compelled to, knowing she'd risk so much on herself, which unfortunately has happened, he seeks to blame somebody else, in this case, the Democrats.

Let’s remember, Dr. Ford came forward before Judge Kavanaugh was even nominated. Dr. Ford came forward and called up two people before anyone even knew of her allegations, including one, a hotline from The Washington Post, according to her testimony. My colleague here has engaged in a giant Kabuki game.

He knows how believable Dr. Ford is. He knows the American people, a majority of them, believe Dr. Ford was telling the truth rather than Judge Kavanaugh. He knows that any focus on Dr. Ford would bring more feelings that Judge Kavanaugh is the wrong person for the Supreme Court. But he can't attack Dr. Ford because of her credibility – greater than Judge Kavanaugh's –  so he attacks, quote, Democrats, increasing the partisan rancor and basically the fundamental lack of getting to the truth in this chamber. I’d like to ask the Majority Leader a few questions based on what he said a few minutes ago.

He said that this debate has been filled with partisan histrionics. Mr. Leader, are you accusing Dr. Ford of engaging in partisan histrionics when she came forward? He said that the politics of personal destruction is rampant. Again, Mr. Leader, are you accusing Dr. Ford of engaging in the politics of personal destruction? He talked about people being intimidated. Again, Mr. Leader, are you accusing Dr. Ford of intimidating the Senate because she had the courage to come forward? And he talks over and over again about the outrageous smear. Mr. Leader, it's about time you came forward and came clean. When you say outrageous smear, you’re really referring to what Dr. Ford said, but you can't say so because everyone knows that kind of rhetoric would be outrageous.

But it's her testimony that got this whole thing going. Her testimony required by one courageous Republican who said he wouldn't just rush things through, as Leader McConnell attempted to do. That’s why there was a hearing. Not any Democrats. None, I said yesterday that the Leader is telling one of the greatest mistruths I’ve heard on the floor, that Democrats have delayed.

Again, Mr. Leader, what power do we have to delay? Isn’t it true that you set the time and place of hearings, or your committee chairs do, and you set the time and place of when we vote, with no effect from the Democrats? No influence by Democrats. If you delayed, Mr. Leader, it's because you've delayed. If there's been delay, Mr. Leader, it's because you delayed. But ultimately Dr. Ford came forward and won America’s hearts, and our Republican colleagues were upset because that might derail their headlong rush to put Judge Kavanaugh on the Supreme Court.

Led by Judge Kavanaugh at his return testimony, and by President Trump and by Leader McConnell, they tried to misdirect the whole issue away from Dr. Ford, who is the cause, the reason we are debating all of this, and towards other bogeymen, many of whom happen to be Democrats coincidentally.

It’s wrong, but our Republican friends are doing, what my dear friend the Leader is doing, is demeaning to Dr. Ford. And demeaning is the last thing Dr. Ford, and others who have gone through what she's gone through, needs now, or deserves now. So I would say to the Leader: if you're talking about partisan histrionics, if you're talking about politics of personal destruction, if you're talking about being intimidated, if you're talking about outrageous smears, you are really accusing Dr. Ford of all those things. Not anyone else. Because she is the reason we are all here in this type of discussion, and no Democrat importuned her to come. No Democrat.

Senator Feinstein tried to respect her wishes and not make it public. That was not a political instinct. That was a human instinct. As I understand it, Senator Feinstein’s staff called each week and said ‘do you want to go public now?’ And Dr. Ford said no and Senator Feinstein respected it and because she did that our Republican friends are accusing her of manipulating. Manipulating what? Dr. Ford’s desire to keep this private? We heard what Dr. Ford said. She wrestled with deciding whether to go public. She knew the damage it would create for her family, for her very life.

She decided she had an obligation to come forward. She decided she had to. I believe her. A large number of Americans believe her. But even if you don't believe her and you choose to believe Judge Kavanaugh, don't demean Dr. Ford, which is exactly what you're doing.

It’s a shame. It's a low point in a headlong rush to get somebody whose views are out of touch with the American people, who would in all likelihood greatly limit women's health care and a woman's right to choose, who would greatly constrain health care, who would allow this overreaching president to overreach with no constraint.

Dr. Ford seems to be a casualty along the way in terms of the name-calling, the nastiness, and the viciousness. Now, they don't say it is Dr. Ford, but make no mistake about it – it's her they're talking about, because it was only she who brought all of these things up. Not Democrats. Democrats didn't put words in her mouth. These came from the heart.

Now I’d make three final points about the documents that have been released late last night.  First, we Democrats had many fears that this would be an all too limited process that would constrain the FBI from getting the facts. Having received a thorough briefing a few minutes ago, our fears have been realized. This is not a thorough investigation. According to Dr. Ford's lawyers and Ms. Ramirez’s lawyers, there were many, many witnesses that wished to be interviewed, and they said they were not interviewed. They should have been. Why not?

And what limits were placed on the F.B.I so that they couldn’t do a full and thorough investigation? The word is it was the White House, importuned by some of the Senate Republican staffers here. Well, the White House has two choices – they can admit it or, if they deny it, they should at the very minimum make the directive that they sent to the F.B.I public. If the White House didn’t limit what the F.B.I normally does when they do one of these background checks, it sure seems they did, given what the limited number of witnesses or the so many witnesses that weren’t called, who should have been. Make it public. Let the American people see whether it was truly limited or not. And what else should be made public are these documents that we’re allowed to look at.

First, again, the idea that this should be full and thorough and open and available is once again belied by the pettiness on the Republican side and the White House. There’s only one document for 100 members to see in the course of the day. That’s very hard to do, and there’s a lot of documents. There’s only one copy of these documents. Why aren’t there ten copies in that room. What the heck is going on here?

But it’s just a pattern, a pattern of limiting access to facts, limiting access to truth, limiting access to what the American people ought to know. And so I reiterate my call, particularly after receiving a briefing about what the documents contained, that they be made public. Obviously, there has to be appropriate redactions, and there should be, to protect the privacy of those who were interviewed. But there’s no reason on God’s green earth that those documents can’t be made public. Let the American people decide.

Leader McConnell said from the very beginning, to the effect, he’s going to rush this through, starting with not releasing documents, followed by constraints from our Senate Republicans colleagues on what should be – on limitations on the F.B.I’s ability to do the new background check, all the way to this morning with one document in that room.

The White House and the Republican side here in the Senate has attempted to rush this through, regardless of the facts. It’s wrong. It jaundices relationships between the sides in this body, which we all want to be better. It hurts the agencies involved, the reputation of the F.B.I., and above all, it hurts the Supreme Court and the American people.

Make no mistake about it, once again, if this process had been open and fair, maybe the outcome would be different, maybe it wouldn’t. Who could tell? But at least there’d be some respect for the process. That hasn’t happened, and that is very bad for this body, for the Supreme Court, and for the United States of America.


 ###