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SALT LAKE CITY — Sen. Orrin Hatch outlined Wednesday what he sees as the focus of next week’s possible Senate hearing on the sexual assault allegations against U.S. Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh, saying it is not a trial.
“There is no judge and jury, no predefined burden of proof. Senators must decide what standard to apply in deciding whether Judge Kavanaugh should be confirmed, and we need to find actionable facts and evidence,” the Utah Republican wrote in an op-ed for the Washington Examiner.
Hatch, a member of the Senate Judiciary Committee, also again attacked Democrats for waiting until the most “politically damaging” moment to reveal Christine Blasey Ford’s allegations, saying it “reeks of opportunism.”
“They also knew that Judge Kavanaugh’s reputation would be forever tarnished by this allegation, even if it proved to be false. Their reckless behavior will do lasting damage to Dr. Ford, to Judge Kavanaugh, and to the public trust,” he wrote.
Ford accused Kavanaugh of sexually assaulting her when they were teenagers in the 1980s.
Earlier this week, Hatch told CNN that Ford, a 51-year-old college professor, is “mistaken” and that after talking to Kavanaugh, believes he didn’t do it.
Hatch said the committee’s job is to decide if Kavanaugh, a federal appeals court judge in Washington, D.C., is someone “other than the outstanding” jurist he has shown himself to be in public testimony and 12 years on the federal bench. Senators, he said, will have to determine if Ford’s account of the event meets the threshold to declare Kavanaugh unfit to serve on the Supreme Court.
“This is a solemn task,” Hatch said,
If the hearing is held, Kavanaugh will have the opportunity to answer questions about his alleged conduct, the senator said, adding Kavanaugh and the only other named witness have “categorically” denied Ford’s accusation.
Ford would be called on to “fill in her story,” Hatch said. She has acknowledged that she doesn’t remember some details, and there might be limited or no corroborating evidence, he said. Also, Hatch said Ford might need to address some apparent discrepancies between her therapist’s notes, her attorney’s public statements and her letter to Sen. Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif.
No matter the outcome, Democrats should be held responsible for circumventing the process that protects people like Ford, Hatch said. Democrats, he said, could have worked with committee Chairman Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa, and raised the issue in public or private hearings but chose to "leak" the allegation to the media, knowing it would reveal Ford’s identity.