Schumer Floor Remarks Regarding How Republican Leadership Has Handled Dr. Ford’s Allegations

September 26, 2018

Washington, D.C. – U.S. Senator Chuck Schumer today spoke on the Senate floor [at approximately 10:25 a.m.] regarding how Republican leaders have handled Dr. Ford’s allegations against Judge Kavanaugh. Below are his remarks, which can also be viewed here:

 Mr. President, as we approach tomorrow’s hearing with Dr. Ford and Judge Kavanaugh, I want to be very clear about how the Republican leadership has handled these incredibly serious and credible allegations of sexual assault. The Republican leadership has handled them poorly, unfairly, disrespectfully.

Leader McConnell has called this entire issue a “smear campaign” cooked up by Democrats. That’s a blatant falsehood that demeans the women who have courageously come forward. They came forward, not Democrats. They did it on their own, not Democrats. And when Leader McConnell says it’s a “smear campaign,” he’s demeaning these women. As I have said before, but we have yet to hear, Leader McConnell owes Dr. Ford an apology for what he has said.


After Republicans on the Judiciary Committee learned of a second potential allegation against Judge Kavanaugh, they renewed their requests, of course, to accelerate, to speed up, the confirmation process.


Chairman Grassley has prohibited witnesses in tomorrow’s hearing other than Dr. Ford and Judge Kavanaugh, including the one and only alleged eyewitness to the events in question.


Chairman Grassley and several of his colleagues on the other side have already proposed a final committee vote on Friday. They’ve proposed the vote before the hearing occurs. Isn’t that prejudgment? And they are acting, when they proposed the vote before the hearing, as if the conclusion was foreordained and the hearing just a nuisance to “plow through.”


Most galling of all: Republican leadership and the White House have blocked the FBI from re-opening an independent background check investigation into Judge Kavanaugh, a standard procedure for federal nominees when new allegations arise. This isn’t a new thing that Democrats are pulling out of the hat. This is something we do all the time. But in this case, Republicans say no.


So, this isn’t a Democratic smear job, as the Leader so callously suggested, this is a Republican rush job, and I might add, a rush job to avoid getting to the truth.


Here is the contradiction in Leader McConnell’s logic: Leader McConnell keeps saying that the allegations by Dr. Ford and other women are “uncorroborated,” his words, while at the same time he is blockading the obvious avenues to corroborate them -- an impartial FBI investigation and calling eyewitnesses to testify. Senator McConnell’s assertion is wrong on its face because sworn statements corroborating Dr. Ford’s account were submitted to the Judiciary Committee yesterday. If he doesn’t believe those statements, simple, have the FBI interview those who submitted the statements, and then they would have to tell the truth under the penalty of perjury.


So, right here and now, I challenge any member of the Republican Senate, to give one good reason why we shouldn’t allow the FBI to follow up on its background investigation. One good reason. I haven’t heard one. With all the rhetoric, all the screaming, all the name-calling, all the disrespecting of women who have come forward, something this nation knows all too well these days, we haven’t heard one actual reason why there shouldn’t be an FBI investigation.


Will it slow it down? It’ll only take a few days. I would remind Leader McConnell he slowed down a nomination to the Supreme Court for a year, and now a few days is too much? Give me a break. Give me a break.


Dr. Ford has asked for an FBI investigation, that shows you the faith she has in her account. Editorial boards across the country have echoed her call for a FBI investigation. Anita Hill, treated so unfairly in her day, said that a FBI investigation is essential. And I have to give some credit, a handful of fair-minded Republican Senators have said that an FBI investigation is warranted because they know it would get to the facts. They know it would keep politics out of it. They know it wouldn’t cause much of a delay.


During Justice Thomas’ confirmation process, an update to the FBI background check took three days. Three days. Leader McConnell held a Supreme Court seat open for over 400 days! So why was that okay, and this not?


Again, I say to my dear friend Leader McConnell, give me one good reason, give the American people one good reason, why we shouldn’t ask the FBI to investigate. If it’s a smear job as he claims, the FBI will find that out. They also might find out that it’s no smear job, it the God’s honest truth.


Now another tactic, the Republican Leader has just trotted out old quotes by Senator Biden pointing out that FBI investigations don’t provide conclusions. I would say to the Leader, that’s just the point! The purpose of the FBI investigation would not be to prove definitively who’s right one way or the other -- that’s a job senators have to do -- but to provide the Senate with just the facts -- that’s what we want, just the facts -- to make a more informed decision, one the American people could have some confidence in. Their confidence in Judge Kavanaugh and in the process is slipping daily, and with good reason. Isn’t an impartial, fair, timely, non-dilatory FBI background check investigation fair to both Dr. Ford and Judge Kavanuagh? Taking this out of the arena of politics and making it just about the facts? You bet it is.


Of course, it’s the right thing to do. But Republican leaders and the White House have blocked it, scheduled a hearing for tomorrow anyway because as Leader McConnell promised last week, he is going to “plow right through” these allegations. And the motivation is clear: they want to put Judge Kavanaugh on the bench, as quickly as possible, because they know their nominee has a gigantic credibility problem and every day that goes by, more and more Americans realize it.


Judge Kavanaugh misled the Judiciary Committee on numerous occasions about his involvement in the ugliest Bush-era controversies. On torture. On the confirmation of controversial judges, William Pryor and Charles Pickering. On the sordid affair when Manny Miranda, a Republican operative, stole Democratic emails. Just today, Ranking Member Feinstein said that Judge Kavanaugh misled the Judiciary Committee about an incident with a grand jury during his time working for Ken Starr. Telling the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth does not seem Judge Kavanaugh’s way. But that is what we need on the Supreme Court.


And earlier this week, the nation watched Judge Kavanaugh swear on national television that he never had so much to drink that he forgot events. That characterization doesn’t track with several descriptions given by many of his high school and college classmates. And when he says ‘I can’t recall’ this, that, and the other thing about his youth. 


So, the question of credibility looms. Is Judge Kavanaugh willing to say anything to get confirmed? And are Republican leaders willing to do anything to get him confirmed? Unfortunately, signs are pointing to yes.


Most importantly, when the credibility of the nominee is so questionable, is that the kind of person we want on the Supreme Court? I don’t care if it’s a liberal, a conservative, a moderate; when the question of credibility is so much in doubt, as it is now with Judge Kavanaugh, that person should not be sitting on the highest court in the land, the arbiter of our laws, and often the decider of right and wrong. It would be a new, lower standard for the court and for America.