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EDITORIAL: Out of respect for women, wait on the FBI before confirming Kavanaugh

The woman accusing Judge Brett Kavanaugh of sexually assaulting her is willing to tell her story in public to a Senate panel considering his nomination to the Supreme Court, her lawyer said Monday.

Christine Blasey Ford, the woman accusing Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh of sexual misconduct when they were teenagers, now has asked for an FBI investigation of her charge before she will testify before a Senate committee. | AP file photo

If President Trump and Senate Republicans take seriously the problem of sexual assault against women, they will delay a vote to put Brett Kavanaugh on the Supreme Court until a committee hears from Christine Blasey Ford.

And if that means waiting until the FBI first conducts an investigation, as Ford has demanded, into her accusation that Kavanaugh assaulted her years ago, so be it.

A short delay in confirming Kavanaugh’s nomination is a small price to pay for justice and honor.

EDITORIAL

Ford, in a letter, has claimed that Kavanaugh assaulted her when they were in high school. That was a long time ago — some 36 years  — and the adult Brett Kavanaugh is by all appearances an honorable man. We’re not sure what to make of Ford’s accusation, or what it might say about Kavanaugh’s fitness to serve on the Supreme Court.

We do know, though, that Senate Republicans will be taking a huge political risk if they blow right past Ford and vote on Monday, as scheduled, to confirm Kavanaugh’s nomination. To tell a woman to put up or shut up is not a smart way to win elections in the #MeToo era.

We also think we understand why Ford wants an FBI investigation before she’ll testify before the Senate Judiciary Committee. More than a few members of the committee already have made their skepticism, even hostility, clear. The FBI could, at least in theory, produce a more neutral and thorough assessment of Ford’s story.

Unfortunately, the FBI cannot investigate unless the White House asks. There is no allegation of a federal crime, so the FBI’s role would be to examine the matter as part of its background check, requested by Trump, into the fitness and character of a Supreme Court nominee.

Trump, to nobody’s surprise, has not asked.

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