Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y.) excoriated Republican senators for their “disappointing” response to sexual misconduct accusations against Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh and reiterated her unwavering support for the accusers.
Gillibrand ― who earlier this week called for Kavanaugh to withdraw his nomination ― on Wednesday urged her colleagues to “actually listen” and show respect to Christine Blasey Ford, the California professor who has accused the nominee of sexually assaulting her when they were teenagers. Ford is due to testify before the Senate Judiciary Committee on Thursday.
“I believe Dr. Blasey Ford because she’s risking everything — her safety, her security, her reputation, her career — to tell this story at this moment for all the right reasons,” Gillibrand said in a powerful speech on the Senate floor. “If we allow women’s experiences of sexual trauma to be second to a man’s promotion, it will not only diminish this watershed moment of societal change we are in, it will bring shame on this body and on the court.”
Gillibrand criticized Republicans for “bullying” and “patronizing” Ford, and lambasted President Donald Trump for belittling Kavanaugh’s accusers.
Deborah Ramirez has alleged that Kavanaugh thrust his penis in her face at a college party, and Julie Swetnick said the judge was present when she was gang-raped at a party in 1982. Trump has attacked Ford on Twitter and dismissed Ramirez’s accusation as “nothing.” He also went after Michael Avenatti, Swetnick’s attorney, on Wednesday, describing him as a “total low-life.”
Trump’s raging “remind[ed] us once again that he has been credibly accused of sexual assault himself and denigrates not just women who accuse him but survivors everywhere,” Gillibrand said in her speech.
She noted that the “retaliation and scorn” Kavanaugh’s accusers have faced shows why many sexual assault survivors don’t come forward with their stories.
“This process is sending the worst possible message to girls — and boys — everywhere,” Gillibrand said. “It’s telling American women that your voice doesn’t matter. It’s telling survivors everywhere that your experiences don’t count, they’re not important and they are not to be believed.”
The GOP-led Judiciary Committee plans to vote on Kavanaugh’s nomination Friday without hearing testimony from Ramirez or Swetnick.
Watch Sen. Gillibrand’s entire speech in the video above.
Need help? Visit RAINN’s National Sexual Assault Online Hotline or the National Sexual Violence Resource Center’s website.