Many have called the confirmation process of Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh blatantly partisan, with Republican senators withholding documents from Democrats and completely ignoring claims from Democrats that Kavanaugh had perjured himself in the past. Now that California researcher Christine Blasey Ford has publicly claimed that Kavanaugh attempted to sexually assault her when they were both in high school, though, some Republican senators said that the allegations against Kavanaugh could be enough to merit delaying his confirmation vote.
As soon as The New Yorker published the then-anonymous claims about Kavanaugh on Friday, the White House released Kavanaugh's strong denial. “I categorically and unequivocally deny this allegation,” Kavanaugh's statement read. “I did not do this back in high school or at any time.”
Since then, The Washington Post published Ford's own account of the story, and now there have been numerous calls to allow Ford a chance to speak to the Senate. New York magazine reported that while several of these calls came from Democrats, some Republicans also added their voices to the mix.
“I’ve made it clear that I’m not comfortable moving ahead with the vote on Thursday if we have not heard her side of the story or explored this further,” said Arizona Sen. Jeff Flake, speaking with The Washington Post.
Flake, who is on the Senate Judiciary Committee, said that Ford “must be heard” before the committee could vote on whether to progress Kavanaugh's nomination on to the full Senate. “For me, we can’t vote until we hear more," he told The Post.
Tennessee Sen. Bob Corker, who like Flake has been a frequent critic of President Donald Trump, agreed that the committee shouldn't vote on Kavanaugh until Ford's voice was heard. “I think that would be best for all involved, including the nominee. If she does want to be heard, she should do so promptly,” Corker said in a statement, according to The Post.
Republican Sen. Lisa Murkowski of Alaska, who, as New York magazine noted, has not made any explicit indication of whether she intends to vote to confirm Kavanaugh, also suggested on CNN that the allegations might be "something the committee needs to look into."
“Well, I think that might be something they might have to consider, at least having that discussion," Murkowski said on CNN, referring to the possibility of delaying the committee vote. "This is not something that came up during the hearings. The hearings are now over, and if there is real substance to this, it demands a response."
So far, those three senators are the only Republicans who have suggested actually putting the vote off. Several others, including committee chairman Chuck Grassley, have noted the possibility of Ford speaking to the committee before the scheduled vote on Thursday.
“Given the late addendum to the background file and revelations of Dr. Ford’s identity, Chairman Grassley is actively working to set up such follow-up calls with Judge Kavanaugh and Dr. Ford ahead of Thursday’s scheduled vote," a spokesperson for Grassley told New York magazine.
The Thursday vote is approaching quickly, though, so any appearance by Ford would have to happen quickly — unless Democrats and these three Republican senators can push the committee to delay the vote.