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Rep. Eshoo: Kavanaugh accuser doesn’t have a political bone in her body

Rep. Anna Eshoo, D-Calif., was the first lawmaker whom Christine Blasey Ford contacted about her allegations against Brett Kavanaugh. Eshoo talks with Judy Woodruff about meeting with Ford, and the risk that has come with speaking out.

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  • Judy Woodruff:

    Now back to our lead story, the sexual assault allegations against Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh.

    The first lawmaker Christine Blasey Ford reached out to was Representative Anna Eshoo, Democrat of California. She's serving her 13th term in Congress.

    And she joins me now from Mountain View.

    Congresswoman Eshoo, tell me, now that we have heard from Christine Blasey Ford's attorneys that she is prepared to testify under fair conditions, what do you make of that? Do you consider that progress?

  • Rep. Anna Eshoo, D-Calif.:

    I do consider that progress, because this is so important to the people of our country.

    And I think that's an element that's been left out of this entire story. But my constituent Dr. Ford deserves to have a fair hearing. I don't think it is unfair of her to ask that her safety be assured because of the death threats that have come since she spoke out publicly to tell her story and to not allow others to mischaracterize it.

    And, also, I think that her request that the FBI do the background investigation of this — I mean, just think. She's asking not for less scrutiny, but for more. And I think it would be instructive to all of the senators from both sides of the aisle.

    So, I think that she always — once she went public, she said she was willing to testify. At no time has she said that she would not. So we have to weigh this, obviously, in terms of the weight of a lifetime appointment to the Supreme Court. And integrity and character do matter.

  • Judy Woodruff:

    Do you think she has a responsibility to testify, given the gravity of what she's accused Judge Kavanaugh of?

  • Rep. Anna Eshoo, D-Calif.:

    Oh, well, she certainly weighed the risks and the consequences for her family, number one, and herself. And that's why she was so extraordinarily, I think, courageous to, once there was some leaking, that she would speak out, tell her story, and was willing to testify.

  • Judy Woodruff:

    The nomination of Judge Kavanaugh was on July the 9th, this summer, by President Trump.

    She contacted — Professor Blasey Ford contacted your office, as we understand it, in the days after that. You agreed to meet with her.

    How did she come across to you? What did you — did you learn something in that session — you spent an hour-and-a-half with her — beyond what has become public?

  • Rep. Anna Eshoo, D-Calif.:

    Well, when you spend an hour-and-a-half with someone, you take their measure.

    That's a long period of time. It was quiet. I assured her that her anonymity and her privacy — privacy is absolutely paramount to all of my constituents, but certainly in cases of sexual assault.

    And I also emphasized that I wasn't there to tell her what to do, but, rather, if there was something that she wished me to do, that I would do everything to assist her. She was — she is intelligent. She was soft-spoken. I think it was wrenching for her to repeat her story, her experience, the experience that she had.

    And it was — as I said, I asked her many questions. And, at the end of that period of time, I did say to her, "I believe you. And if you wish me to take this to another level, we can discuss that. But it is entirely up to you. And your anonymity and your privacy will always be protected."

    And I — we have kept our word on that.

    She chose to have — I spoke to Senator Dianne Feinstein.

  • Judy Woodruff:

    Right.

  • Rep. Anna Eshoo, D-Calif.:

    She is obviously the ranking member of the House (sic) Judiciary Committee.

  • Judy Woodruff:

    Right.

  • Rep. Anna Eshoo, D-Calif.:

    And Dr. Ford is our mutual constituent.

    She asked for a letter, and Dr. Ford drew a letter up that was confidential. And we made sure that the — Dr. Ford's letter was delivered to the right person in Senator Feinstein's Washington, D.C. offices, the same date that the letter was dated.

  • Judy Woodruff:

    And that was on July the 30th, I believe.

  • Rep. Anna Eshoo, D-Calif.:

    July 30.

  • Judy Woodruff:

    I just want to ask you, there was no corroborating evidence. Why did you believe her?

  • Rep. Anna Eshoo, D-Calif.:

    Because of the details, really finite details that remained with her.

    I think there's something that is not appreciated in our country. And that is that 93 percent of sexual assault victims are found to have told the truth.

    And so, yes, there's a juxtaposition of someone that essentially is your next-door neighbor. She's married. She has two young sons. She's a professor. But she — this woman doesn't have a political bone in her body.

    What she did comprehend what were the risks and the consequences of the risks of going public. And that's terrorizing. I think it is terrorizing to her. And I think some of that terror has been confirmed because of the death threats and other really terrible things that she's been subjected to.

    But she is a person of integrity. I could — from what she shared with me, she has a firm set of values. And she has an inner strength to her as well.

  • Judy Woodruff:

    Representative Anna Eshoo, thank you very much.

  • Rep. Anna Eshoo, D-Calif.:

    Thank you, Judy.

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