VIDEO - Sen. Chris Coons on CNN to discuss sexual assault allegations, FBI participation
Speaking of the Monday hearing with Judge Brett Kavanaugh and Dr. Christine Blasey Ford, Senate Judiciary Committee member Chris Coons said, “It is my hope that the Senate Judiciary Committee will demonstrate that we are today capable of treating an alleged victim of sexual assault with the respect and thoroughness that her allegations deserve.
“It is important that this hearing be informed first by experts.”
On the upcoming testimonies from Kavanaugh and Ford:
I think it is important that this hearing on Monday be informed first by experts who can help make sure that the panel understands the dynamics that cause many victims of sexual assault to refuse to come forward for years, why they fear retribution or mistreatment. And second, I think it’s important that we hear from witnesses in addition to just Dr. Ford and Judge Kavanaugh, not least of which is Mark Judge, a classmate of Judge Kavanaugh who is alleged to have also been a part of this disturbing incident. So, I think we should have a broader hearing than just two witnesses next Monday. And it is my hope that the Senate Judiciary Committee will demonstrate that we are today capable of treating an alleged victim of sexual assault with the respect and thoroughness that her allegations deserve.
On an FBI investigation:
I agree with Sen. Feinstein that in any investigation of this type, the first thing you ought to do is try and make sure that what evidence there is corroborated and that there is a reasonable, responsible, independent effort to try and see if there is other evidence that could be discovered, uncovered.
I think we ought to take President Trump at his word. He said he’d like a full process and that everyone should be heard from. Everyone certainly includes Mark Judge but also others who are classmates, who are neighbors or faculty who could give some insight into the environment of these two, small elite private schools here in the Washington D.C. suburbs. These memories are now more than 30 years old, and so it’s important if the Senate Judiciary Committee is to weigh the testimony of Dr. Ford and Judge Kavanaugh to have what other evidence can be reasonably uncovered by the law enforcement professionals at the FBI.
It is not that we said first all we want is for Dr. Ford to be heard and nothing else and then once Republicans agreed to a hearing we said “Oh wait! We also want the FBI.” From the beginning, when this allegation came forward, Democrats on the committee kept saying we should do a full investigation.
This should be part of the background investigation as are any other allegations relating to someone being nominated for a lifetime appointment on a federal court and in this case certainly the Supreme Court. This is not an effort to slow it down by months, but it is an effort to make sure that we take days or weeks to ensure that there is a thorough background investigation.
On potentially delaying the Kavanaugh hearings:
I’d want to hear from the FBI how much time they think they need to do an appropriate and professional background investigation so that they could come forward and say whether they have found any additional evidence that either lends credence to Dr. Ford’s allegations or lends support to Judge Kavanaugh. I’ll remind you, Judge Kavanaugh has already made public a list of dozens of women, of classmates, of former girlfriends, neighbors, who’ve--
On character witnesses:
So, my concern is that Dr. Ford has not yet had the opportunity to come forward with additional evidence. So, I think my concern first was that we wouldn’t hear from Dr. Ford at all, that her allegations wouldn’t be treated with respect and taken credibly. I am encouraged that that’s what’s going to happen next Monday. But if we’re really going to hear her, we should make sure that there is an opportunity here for what other evidence there is to also be brought forward.
On Ford’s upcoming testimony:
I think this is going to be a moment of real challenge for the Republican majority on the Judiciary Committee. On our side, the Democratic side, we have experienced, seasoned former prosecutors, two of them happen to be Sen. Klobuchar of Minnesota and Sen. Harris of California, who have handled sexual assault cases. And I think you will see on the Democratic side the sort of balance and respectful questioning that is appropriate given the context. I do think this will be a real challenge for the Republican majority to conduct a questioning that is the sort of respectful questioning that was really not given to Anita Hill back in 1991.