Sen. Duckworth on Kavanaugh: Normal Behavior For Sexual Trauma Victims To "Wait Until The Last Minute, If Possible"

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Sen. Tammy Duckworth (D-IL) said politicians should not let partisanship get in the way of the truth of the sexual assault allegations against Supreme Court Associate Justice nominee Brett Kavanaugh. Duckworth said on Monday the FBI should investigate the matter "so that it doesn't become a he said/she said kind of issue.

Kavanaugh has been accused by professor Dr. Christine Blasey Ford of sexual assault when the two were in high school. The accusation stemmed from a letter Judiciary Committee member Dianne Feinstein received privately from Ford some time since at least the beginning of the summer.

Duckworth called it "normal behavior" for victims of sexual trauma to "wait until the last minute, if possible."





"I'm hearing of people staking out her home," Duckworth said of the accuser. "She can't go home already. This is very, very touchy in terms of her personal safety. And I don't blame her for wanting to remain private as long as possible. Again, this is normal behavior from victims of sexual trauma who wait until the last minute, if possible."

"Dr. Ford's actions are very consistent with many, many victims of sexual trauma," Duckworth also said to CNN host Wolf Blitzer.

Transcript:

WOLF BLITZER, CNN HOST: Joining us now, Democratic Senator Tammy Duckworth of Illinois.

Senator, thanks so much for joining us.

Are you encouraged to hear Senator Kennedy say that Kavanaugh's accuser will be heard in a public hearing?

SEN. TAMMY DUCKWORTH (D-IL): Well, I am encouraged to hear that.

I hope that she gets a fair hearing and that we give her a chance to really talk about and tell her story.

You know, I have dealt with victims of military sexual trauma, and one of the things that I learned doing that work is that we must, first and foremost, protect and support the alleged victim as they come forward. This is a very difficult thing that she is doing, and I applaud her for her courage.

BLITZER: Kavanaugh will also have this chance to respond publicly to this allegation, but Senator Hatch already said that Kavanaugh denies being at the party to begin with and says his accuser might have mistaken him for someone else.

What is your reaction to that?

DUCKWORTH: Well, I have heard, you know, many, many predators say and refute allegations against them.

I think what we need to do is, we need to hear from both sides, and this is why it is so important for the FBI to investigate these allegations so that it doesn't become a he said/she said kind of issue.

Again, I learned about this through my work with military sexual trauma. This is why we must have an independent investigation into it and trust the victim as they come forward, and we must take it with all seriousness and not let partisanship get in the way of really finding out the truth.

This is, after all, somebody that's being nominated to the highest court in the land for the rest of his life.

BLITZER: Democrats on the Senate Judiciary Committee, Senator, say they still haven't received a response from the FBI on whether it is investigating this allegation.

And President Trump says he trusts the process. So should he request that the FBI follow through on this investigation?

DUCKWORTH: Well, I will be perfectly honest with you. I don't have much trust in what the president says he will and won't do when it comes to our intelligence agencies.

He has spent most of his time in office so far bashing our intelligence experts.

I will say this. I have the utmost trust in the FBI. I hope that they handle this justly and that they stick to the facts and do this investigation. The American people deserve to know what is happening here.

BLITZER: Christine Blasey Ford was extremely reluctant, as you know, to publicly identify herself. Do you have how concerns about how she would be treated in an open hearing?

DUCKWORTH: Well, of course I have grave concerns of how she would be testified -- how she would be treated if she testified, not just by my fellow senators, but by folks out there in the public.

I'm hearing of people staking out her home. She can't go home already. This is very, very touchy in terms of her personal safety. And I don't blame her for wanting to remain private as long as possible. Again, this is normal behavior from victims of sexual trauma who wait until the last minute, if possible.

They -- you know, in fact, being brought before the press, being criticized is almost like being victimized all over again. We must trust and allow the victims to speak out, allow her to have her day. Lord knows Judge Kavanaugh has had many days in front of the Senate Judiciary Committee. Let's let her have her chance to speak and tell her story.

BLITZER: And he will have his chance as well.

Did Senator Feinstein make a mistake by not alerting her fellow committee members to this allegation? She's known about it since July. Was there a way to address the serious charges while still protecting the accuser's identity?

DUCKWORTH: Well, I don't know what she could have done. I think she did everything that she could in terms of being -- you know, her legality, her legally required -- she did contact the FBI and she stuck with what the accuser asked her to do.

If you read the letter from the victim, she said that, please, please keep this confidential.

And I think, again, I have to reiterate, this is what a lot of victims of sexual trauma want. They want complete privacy. And in the military, it wasn't until just a few years ago, when the military installed completely anonymous reporting processes, that more and more victims of sexual trauma came forward, many times decades after the incident happened, to say, you know what? When I was a young 20-year-old ensign, when I was a young 20-year-old private, this happened to me, and I didn't feel safe to do this until now, 20, 30 years later.

So, her -- Dr. Ford's actions are very consistent with many, many victims of sexual trauma.

BLITZER: Senator Duckworth, thanks so much for joining us.

DUCKWORTH: Thank you.

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