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What people who knew Kavanaugh and his accuser are saying

Christine Blasey Ford has said she wants the FBI to investigate her allegations that Brett Kavanaugh sexually assaulted her more than 30 years ago ahead of a Senate hearing. So far, Republicans have balked at the demand, and Democrats have decried the timeline. Amna Nawaz joins Judy Woodruff to share on how acquaintances are standing by Kavanaugh and Ford.

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  • Judy Woodruff:

    Now to the continued stand-off over whether the woman who has accused Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh of sexually assaulting her will appear at a Senate Judiciary Committee hearing next week.

    Christine Blasey Ford all but ruled out appearing before the committee. Her lawyers say she has received death threats since revealing her identity, and they are demanding an FBI investigation before she testifies.

    Amna Nawaz has the story.

  • Amna Nawaz:

    This morning, before departing to tour storm-ravaged parts of South Carolina, President Trump dismiss that request.

  • President Donald Trump:

    The FBI has been very involved with respect to Justice Kavanaugh. They know Justice Kavanaugh very well. They have investigated him, I guess, six times, and they have investigated him for this hearing.

    Look, if she shows up and makes a credible showing, that will be very interesting, and we will have to make a decision. But I can only say this. He is such an outstanding man. Very hard for me to imagine that anything happened.

  • Amna Nawaz:

    Last night, Christine Blasey Ford's attorney said she needs more time.

  • Lisa Banks:

    She will talk with the committee. She's not prepared to talk with them at a hearing on Monday. This just came out 48 hours ago.

  • Anderson Cooper:

    So, point blank, if there's not an investigation between now and then, she would not appear on Monday in a public hearing?

  • Lisa Banks:

    No investigation is — any legitimate investigation is going to happen between now and Monday.

  • Amna Nawaz:

    On Capitol Hill today, Democrats decried the timeline.

  • Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand, D-N.Y.:

    The fact that they're saying it has to be you vs. Kavanaugh on Monday as the only possibility to be heard, I find that not only stifling, but outrageous.

  • Sen. Doug Jones, D-Ala.:

    This nomination has been pushed and pushed and pushed with artificial deadlines that the Republican Party and Chairman Grassley and Senator McConnell have put.

  • Amna Nawaz:

    While Republicans forged ahead.

  • Sen. John Cornyn, R-Texas:

    She said she wants to be heard, or she did say it, and now she's saying she won't unless the committee takes other steps. The FBI investigation has already been concluded, so the witnesses don't get to control the committee process.

  • Question:

    Do you find her allegations credible, Senator?

  • Sen. Charles Grassley, R-Iowa:

    Well, that's why we're having the hearing.

  • Amna Nawaz:

    Mr. Trump also slammed the top-ranking Democrat on the Judiciary Committee, Dianne Feinstein, whom Ford originally contacted in July.

  • President Donald Trump:

    Why didn't Senator Feinstein bring this up at her meeting with Judge Kavanaugh? Why didn't the Democrats? They knew about the letter, because he was showing it to Democrats. Why did they wait until everything was finished and then bring it up? That doesn't look good.

  • Amna Nawaz:

    But Feinstein hit back, saying to the president in a tweet — quote — "You may not respect women and the wishes of victims, but I do."

    Judiciary Chairman Chuck Grassley said Monday's hearing is still on, but that Ford can testify either in a public or private session.

  • Judy Woodruff:

    And an update.

    This evening, Judiciary Committee Chairman Chuck Grassley told committee Democrats that he would also be willing to have staff members for the committee interview Ford privately. And that would include traveling to California or anywhere else in order to meet with her.

    Now Amna Nawaz joins me with more on this developing story.

    Amna, you have been on the phone today.

    So, aside from all the figuring out what's going to happen on the Hill, people who know Judge Kavanaugh and know Professor Ford are starting to speak out. What are you learning?

  • Amna Nawaz:

    That's right.

    We have spoken with a number of people who knew both of them back in high school. Those political battle lines we saw, they're definitely filtering down into the personal spheres of both Judge Kavanaugh and Professor Ford.

    Last week, you remember there were 65 women who stepped up to sign a letter of support for Judge Kavanaugh. They said they knew him back in high school. They were attesting to his character.

    This is what they had to say, "He always treated women with decency and respect. That was true when he was in high school. It's remained true to this day."

    Back when they signed the letter, it was an anonymous allegation. Over the last couple of days, we reached out to as many of those women as we could just to see if there was any context they wanted to add.

    And we were able to over the last couple of days reach out to 30 of those women. Two declined to speak outright. Only three, Judy, would speak with me, and only one on the record.

    I should point out everyone who spoke with me in any form stands by her signature on that letter. But the woman who spoke with me is named Lisa Heaps. She was a student at another private school in the area. She knew Brett Kavanaugh back in high school.

    She says, look, I signed a letter because the allegation that came out seemed so unlikely, I felt compelled to step up and say, this is not the guy that I knew.

    She also weighed in on some of the party culture we have heard a lot about. She said, yes, we were 17. We all partied. Everyone partied.

    She says she doesn't remember Brett Kavanaugh as anyone who partied to what she would call an extreme. And she also said — this is important — one of the reasons she believes him is because there hasn't been a single other woman to step up and say, yes, in high school, or in college, he did this to me, too.

  • Judy Woodruff:

    So the two women you were able to speak with standing by Brett Kavanaugh.

    Did any of these women, though, know or did they know Professor Ford?

  • Amna Nawaz:

    It's a good question, because these are small social circles, right?

    A lot of people know a lot of people from other schools. The women I spoke to knew of her or knew her, but not very well. We have seen, however, women who did know her very well and continue to know her and be in touch with her today step up.

    And these are 17 women who were in her 1984 class at the Holton-Arms school, which is private all-girls school in Maryland that we know Professor Ford attended.

    They wrote a letter to members of Congress urging them to conduct a more thorough review of Kavanaugh, and also to believe Ms. — sorry — Professor Ford, rather.

    One of those women who stepped up as sort of the spokeswoman for the group, a woman named Samantha Guerry, actually spoke today to Andrea Mitchell on MSNBC. And this is what she had to say.

  • Samantha Guerry:

    We're not talking about even sexual harassment. We're talking about sexual assault. We're talking about a situation where she thought that she might die. This is deeply personal. And it should be treated that way, with respect that it deserves.

  • Amna Nawaz:

    Judy, Guerry also so told me that she knew Kavanaugh back then in their social circle. And she described Ford back then as someone who was well-liked, who was very smart.

    She also said one of the reasons they're standing by her is because this is a woman who is a scientist. She is all about the cold hard facts. She said, "I would vote for Ford as someone who was least likely to fabricate a narrative like this."

  • Judy Woodruff:

    So, they're — they're talking about — they're vouching for her credibility, her character.

    Has anybody, Amna, you have spoken with it got any information about the night in question, when Professor Ford says this happened?

  • Amna Nawaz:

    That's right.

    Guerry wasn't there. Everyone we have spoken to — and I will also mention, in addition to these women, across our other staff, we have spoken to dozens of people who were just contemporaries of both of them at both their schools.

    Everyone we spoke with denied being there on that night, knowing anything specifically about that night. However, fueling some of the questions about what happened that night is a Facebook post by a woman named Christina King. This came out in the last day.

    She was in the 1983 class at Holton-Arms, which was Ford's school.

    And she wrote this — quote — "Christine Blasey Ford was a year or so behind me. I remember her. This incident did happen."

    She went on to also say that many students at the school talked about it for days. She tweeted this. She also put it on Facebook. Then she deleted both posts. She said she's being inundated with media requests. She has declined all requests for now. And she's being asked not to be contacted by anyone.

    But this is at the heart of the matter, right? There's a specific allegation about a specific alleged attack. And no one has been able to step up with any additional specific information.

  • Judy Woodruff:

    So while we wait to say what other investigation goes on, the press is moving ahead investigating, asking questions?

  • Amna Nawaz:

    That's right.

    And it seems as if, in the absence of any kind of formal investigation, until and unless someone steps forward with additional information to either corroborate or refute what has been said, this is where we are.

  • Judy Woodruff:

    Amna Nawaz, thank you very much.

  • Amna Nawaz:

    Thanks, Judy.

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