The Washington PostDemocracy Dies in Darkness

Opinion Republicans first said Christine Blasey Ford should be heard. Then they insulted and ignored her.

Supreme Court nominee Brett M. Kavanaugh on Sept. 4 during his confirmation hearing on Capitol Hill. (Joshua Roberts/Reuters)

THE DAY after Christine Blasey Ford detailed her sexual assault allegations against Supreme Court nominee Brett M. Kavanaugh, White House counselor Kellyanne Conway said Ms. Ford should be “heard,” not “insulted” or “ignored.” It took less than a week for Republicans to insult and ignore her.

“In the very near future, Judge Kavanaugh will be on the United States Supreme Court,” Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) said Friday. “We’re going to plow right through it,” he said. Though Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Charles E. Grassley (R-Iowa) has tried to appear more reasonable, his chief counsel for nominations tweeted on Wednesday: “Unfazed and determined. We will confirm Judge Kavanaugh.”

Republican senators have called Ms. Ford’s public accusations a “drive-by shooting” and a “little hiccup.” “I’m tired of all these made-up scandals,” said Mississippi GOP Senate candidate Chris McDaniel. “I have no doubt that, if the attack on Dr. Ford was as bad as she says, charges would have been immediately filed with local Law Enforcement Authorities,” President Trump tweeted, as though he were an expert on teenage sexual assault victims. The GOP argument boils down to: We doubt the assault occurred, and it is not serious if it did.

Is it any wonder Ms. Ford is hesitant to testify before a committee that Republican senators control? They have rejected the route most likely to get at the truth. Ms. Ford asked for an FBI investigation into her allegations that Mr. Kavanaugh fondled her, attempted to undress her and covered her mouth when she tried to scream at a high school party 36 years ago. Federal investigators could have brought professionalism and expertise to gathering what evidence exists corroborating either her claims or Mr. Kavanaugh’s denials. Republicans fought back, despite the fact that the FBI is asked routinely to reopen background-check investigations on matters far less concerning and for nominees far less important.

Instead, Republicans proposed that Ms. Ford and Mr. Kavanaugh offer testimony before the Judiciary Committee just a week after senators learned about the details of the alleged assault, and without the due diligence any self-respecting investigator would have conducted. Mark Judge, the man Ms. Ford claims was in the room when the assault occurred, has not been subpoenaed. The same is true of other potential witnesses, all of whom the FBI could have identified and interviewed, subjecting them to criminal liability if they lied.

Whatever the underlying truth, Republicans have endeavored to make it a “he said, she said” matter they could quickly bury. Indeed, they spent Friday pressuring Ms. Ford to make a decision on whether or not she would appear before the committee, and on what terms, establishing an arbitrary deadline for a decision and threatening to vote on Mr. Kavanaugh’s nomination on Monday if she rejected GOP terms.

Ms. Ford’s lawyers were negotiating with the Judiciary Committee on Friday. The committee should not pressure Ms. Ford to make an immediate decision on when and how to testify. As for Ms. Ford, if she is telling the truth, she cannot allow Mr. Kavanaugh to repeat his ringing denials unanswered, which would only play into Republican attempts to sweep her accusation under the rug. Republicans may not want to listen, but the country needs to hear from her.

Read more:

Patti Davis: I was sexually assaulted. Here’s why I don’t remember many of the details.

Marc A. Thiessen: How much evidence do we need to destroy someone?

Michael Gerson: The Senate has become a factory of suspicion and contempt

Catherine Rampell: Why should we believe Kavanaugh?