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Republican senators on the Senate Judiciary Committee voted down a motion Friday from Sen. Richard Blumenthal, D-Conn., to issue a subpoena to Mark Judge, the high school classmate of Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh.
The vote, along partisan lines, followed an explosive day of testimony on Thursday from Christine Blasey Ford, who has accused Kavanaugh of sexually assaulting her decades ago while Judge watched and laughed. In a fiery response later in the day, Kavanaugh dispensed with the accusation and said the allegation was part of "a calculated and orchestrated political hit."
"I'd like to make a motion to subpoena Mark Judge as a witness before our committee," Blumenthal said Friday.
Describing Ford as a "courageous, strong survivor," Blumenthal said the committee "heard her provide details in that story that can be corroborated and other facts that can be uncovered if we hear from other witnesses who have very relevant, important knowledge about what happened to her on that evening, in that room."
"Evidently, he has never been interviewed by the FBI, he has never been questioned by any member of our committee, he has never submitted a detailed account of what he knows, and so I move Mr. Chairman that we have him before this committee as a witness," Blumenthal said.
Through his attorney, Judge has repeatedly denied having any knowledge of the incident that Ford described. Judiciary Committee Chairman Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa, said that Judge, a recovering alcoholic who has battled leukemia, suffered from anxiety and worried about speaking in public.
In a letter addressed to Grassley on Thursday, Judge repeated his assertion that he does not "recall the events described by Dr. Ford," and said "I never saw Brett act in the manner Dr. Ford describes."
In her testimony Thursday, Ford said that Judge, allegedly watching Kavanaugh drunkenly grope her and attempt to remove her clothing, "seemed ambivalent" about the assault, "at times urging Brett on and at times telling him to stop."
"A couple of times I made eye contact with Mark and thought he might try to help me," Ford said. "But he did not."
Shortly after the motion failed, Blumenthal staged a walkout in protest, alongside fellow Democratic Sens. Mazie Hirono of Hawaii, Kamala Harris of California, and Sheldon Whitehouse of Rhode Island.
"Ramming through this nomination without hearing from Mark Judge and other relevant witnesses, and without any investigation, is a betrayal of our promise" to sexual assault survivors, Blumenthal said. "Make no mistake: The truth will come out about Brett Kavanaugh," Connecticut's senior senator told reporters. "It's only a matter of time. The truth will come out."