Add Rep. Leonard Lance to the list of Republicans who don’t believe Christine Blasey Ford’s accusation that U.S. Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh sexually assaulted her 35 years ago.
“I tend not to believe the charges, but they are serious charges. But certainly, we have a right in this country to confront our accusers,” Lance said at a meeting of the Rutgers College Republicans last week. “If the person who has accused the judge of that behavior refuses to testify, then I think that would not be a good thing.”
Lance’s comments were recorded, and Democrat Tom Malinowski’s campaign released a digital ad today attacking Lance for them.
“It’s extremely troubling that Lance’s first instinct upon hearing these serious allegations is to assume Dr. Ford is lying. It is precisely that tendency to dismiss women who make the hard decision to come forward that discourages so many survivors of assault from doing so,” said Malinowski. “Jumping to conclusions based on partisanship rather than objective investigation is exactly what is wrong with Congress right now.”
But, Malinowski’s ad cut short the congressman’s comments, which were made on September 18, before Ford agreed to testify before the Senate Judiciary Committee.
“I also predict that it would be in the best interest of the Democratic Party, if it wishes to defeat the nomination of Judge Kavanaugh, to make sure that the woman who has accused him of bad behavior a generation ago, that she testify before the Senate Judiciary Committee,” Lance said. “There is an indication tonight that she might not be willing to testify and I think that would be unfortunate.”
Lace said he hoped that “the matter is resolved by public testimony by the accuser and public testimony of Judge Kavanaugh,” whom he called a “brilliant judge.”
The 15-second Malinowski spot significantly trims down Lance’s statement, using roughly four seconds of the minute-long recording.
While the ad does not accurately represent the totality of Lance’s statement, some question remains about why the congressman doubted Ford’s allegations.
Todd Mitchell, Lance’s chief of staff, declined to make the congressman available to explain his position, saying that he did not want to dignify the attack with a direct response from Lance.
Mitchell did say he thought Lance questioned the veracity of Ford’s claim because of the timing of her allegations, which she first made publicly on September 16, and because of several background checks Kavanaugh went through when he was vetted for the nomination.
Mitchel also cited U.S. Sen. Diane Feinstein’s withholding of a letter from Ford outlining the allegations.
Feinstein said she held the letter because Ford asked it be kept confidential.
Kavanaugh has flatly denied Ford’s allegations as well as those of two other women who have since accused the judge of sexual misconduct.
“Lance’s suggestion that Ford should testify in the same breath he casts doubt on her claim underscores the farce these nomination proceedings have become. Judgement has already been cast. The vote has already been scheduled. For Lance, it appears going through the motions is enough. That’s not justice; that’s theater,” said Colston Reid, Malinowski’s campaign manager.