Kavanaugh accuser to tell her side to Senate

Marsha Scott
September 23, 2018

Republicans said they would accommodate several of Ford's requests, including ensuring that she had adequate security at the Capitol and that Kavanaugh would not be in the room when she speaks.

A woman who has accused U.S. Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh of sexual assault has agreed to testify before a Senate panel, her lawyers said on Saturday.

Now a 51-year-old California psychology professor, Ford says an inebriated Kavanaugh pinned her on a bed, muffled her cries and tried removing her clothes when both were teenagers in the 1980s.

In a letter to the committee cited by CNN on Friday night, Ford's lawyer, Debra Katz, scolded the committee for taking what she called a "cavalier" attitude toward "a sexual assault survivor who has been doing her best to cooperate with the Committee". The Senate's oversight body and Ford's representatives have been in a protracted negotiations for her to appear in person, but failed to agree to terms.

A White House official said it appeared that Ford's lawyers were trying to prolong negotiations. They called much of Grassley's offer "inconsistent with the Committee's promise of a fair, impartial investigation into her allegations" and requested a follow-up conversation later in the day to continue negotiating.

Senator Orrin Hatch, a member of the Republican-controlled Judiciary committee, also expressed scepticism.

If a final agreement on the details of a hearing is reached, it would set the stage for a dramatic, searing confrontation in the coming week.

"We have heard about different dates, conditions, and ever-changing schedules, but today we appear no closer to a fair hearing", White House spokeswoman Kerri Kupec said late Saturday. The person spoke on the condition of anonymity to describe strategy. He said the Federal Bureau of Investigation is not interested in investigating Ford's allegations, even though the Federal Bureau of Investigation routinely conducts background checks on presidential nominees.

Earlier Saturday amid the latest deadline standoff Vice President Mike Pence called Kavanaugh "a man of integrity with impeccable credentials". Grassley lamented in a tweet Friday that with all the deadline extensions, he felt like he was playing "2nd trombone in the judiciary orchestra", and Senate Minority Leader Charles Schumer, D-N.Y., was the conductor.

Ford vs Kavanaugh Senate MeToo Stephen Nemo
US Supreme Court

Republicans say they have bent over backward to accommodate Ford's requests. The GOP is facing enormous pressure from its base of conservative leaders and voters to swiftly approve Kavanaugh, who would become the second of President Donald Trump's nominees to sit on the nation's highest court, before the November 6 election. "Progress on a Judiciary Committee hearing is being made", Sen. Less than seven weeks before elections in which Democrats could capture congressional control, moderate female voters will be pivotal in many races and the #MeToo movement has elevated the political potency of how women alleging abuse are treated.

Grassley had said earlier that the panel would vote on Kavanaugh's confirmation on Monday unless a deal was reached with Ford's lawyers by a Friday night deadline. It's only after her testimony that a vote on Kavanaugh's confirmation can take place in the Senate. Kavanaugh denies it. Ford's attorneys have also asked that the FBI investigate, but President Donald Trump has resisted the request. Ford's attorney said, "our modest request is that she be given an additional day to make decision".

He also rejected her proposal that she testify after Kavanaugh, a position lawyers consider advantageous because it gives them a chance to rebut accusations. Kavanaugh said he would also return to the committee to dispute her account.

Grassley's stance reflected a desire by Trump and GOP leaders to usher the 53-year-old Kavanaugh onto the high court by the October 1 start of its new session and before the November elections, when Democrats are mounting a robust drive to grab congressional control.

"I have no doubt that, if the attack on Dr. Ford was as bad as she says, charges would have been immediately filed with local Law Enforcement Authorities by either her or her loving parents", Trump wrote on Twitter.

They were wrangling over several contentious details, including whether Ford would testify to the committee before or after Kavanaugh; whether the committee would subpoena a possible witness to the alleged assault, Kavanaugh's boyhood friend Mark Judge; and who would conduct the questioning.

In an email to the firm's staff - sent two minutes after Ford responded to Grassley's invitation to testify - Bromwich said he was resigning because of objections within the firm to his representing Ford while employed there.

A senior White House official charged that Ford's legal team was trying "to continue "negotiations" without committing to anything".

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Other reports by MaliBehiribAe

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