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Manchin, Capito support Judiciary Committee hearing from Kavanaugh, accuser

WASHINGTON — Both of West Virginia’s senators said Monday Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh and the woman accusing him of sexual assault should speak before the U.S. Senate Judiciary Committee.

That opportunity will come next week.

The Judiciary Committee announced Monday evening Kavanaugh and Christine Blasey Ford will publicly testify on Sept. 24. The hearing will take place more than two weeks after the first round of hearings regarding Kavanaugh’s nomination to the high court.

Ford sent a letter to California Sen. Dianne Feinstein — the committee’s leading Democrat — in July accusing Kavanaugh of physical and sexual assault while the two were in high school. Ford said Kavanaugh — whom she described as under the influence of alcohol — pushed her into a bedroom and attempted to take off her clothes.

Feinstein forwarded the information to federal investigators before news organizations learned of the story. Kavanaugh has denied the allegations.

Sen. Joe Manchin, D-W.Va., said prior to the committee’s announcement he wanted lawmakers to listen to both parties.

“Professor Christine Blasey Ford deserves to be heard and Judge Kavanaugh deserves a chance to clear his name,” he tweeted.

A spokesperson for Sen. Shelley Moore Capito, R-W.Va., said the senator is taking the allegations seriously.

“Senator Capito believes this allegation should be taken seriously and that both Dr. Ford and Judge Kavanaugh should be given the opportunity to share their accounts publicly with the Judiciary Committee,” the spokesperson said. “She hopes to learn more as Chairman Grassley, his staff and committee members look into these claims.”

Manchin previously said he wants to meet with Kavanaugh twice — before and after the committee hearings — prior to making a decision regarding supporting Kavanaugh’s nomination. He has expressed concerns regarding the future of the Affordable Care Act and insurance coverage for individuals with pre-existing conditions if Kavanaugh is confirmed.

Capito has stated support for Kavanaugh, who would replace retired Justice Anthony Kennedy.

“He just spouted off case after case to make his case for how he would be an impartial and fair judge,” Capito told MetroNews about how Kavanaugh handled himself during the committee hearings.

“His knowledge of the law, his knowledge of the Constitution, his humbleness, I think, came through quite well. I thought he was pretty flawless, in my opinion.”

Republicans criticized Democrats for when the information was released; the Judiciary Committee was scheduled to vote Thursday on the confirmation.

“The minority withheld even the anonymous allegations for six weeks, only to later decide that they were serious enough to investigate on the eve of the committee vote, after the vetting process had been completed,” Committee Chairman Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa, said in a statement.

West Virginia Attorney General Patrick Morrisey — the Republican nominee for U.S. Senate — also scrutinized of the timing of the information’s release.

“I have full confidence in the Senate Judiciary Committee and President (Donald) Trump’s team to handle these allegations in an appropriate and timely manner, allowing both sides to be heard,” he said in a statement.

“It is disappointing, however, that Senate Democrats held this information for weeks only to drop it on the eve of the Judiciary Committee vote. The allegations should absolutely be taken seriously, but Senate Democrats have done a disservice to the accused, the accuser, and the American people, by politically waiting until the 11th hour to bring forward these allegations.”

Trump said Monday he supports Kavanaugh as well as a process to “hear everybody out.”

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