Christine Blasey Ford says she’s willing to testify next week – but not on Monday as Repubicans have demanded
Christine Blasey Ford, the professor who has accused supreme court nominee Brett Kavanaugh of sexually assaulting her when they were teenagers, has signaled that she is willing to testify next week – but not on Monday as Republicans have demanded.
In an email to the Senate judiciary committee, first reported by the New York Times and obtained by the Guardian , lawyers for Ford said on Thursday that she “wishes to testify, provided that we can agree on terms that are fair and which ensure her safety”.
The email said a Monday hearing is “not possible and the committee’s insistence that it occur then is arbitrary in any event”. Her lawyers stressed that Ford is willing to cooperate but would prefer that the committee “allow for a full investigation prior to her testimony”.
With Kavanaugh’s nomination hanging in the balance, the move restarts negotiations between Ford’s lawyers and the committee after a more than 24-hour stalemate that left in doubt whether the high-stakes public hearing would take place.
Republicans have argued that they have done everything possible to accommodate Ford, offering her the choice to testify privately or publicly and suggesting that aides could travel to California to interview her.
Chuck Grassley, the Republican committee chairman, drew a hard line on the timing of the hearing, telling Ford’s lawyers that she has until Friday morning at 10am to submit a biography and a prepared statement “if she intends to testify”. It is unclear if he is willing to postpone the session until later in the week.
Ford alleges that a drunken Kavanaugh pinned her on a bed at a house party in the early 1980s when they were in high school. He tried to undress her and placed his hand over her mouth to stifle her cries as she tried to flee, she said. Kavanaugh, who is currently a judge on the influential District of Columbia circuit court of appeals, has forcefully denied the allegations.
On Thursday, Kavanaugh said he looked forward to testifying and the opportunity to “defend my integrity”.
“Thank you for the invitation to appear before the Senate Committee on the Judiciary on Monday, September 24,” the judge wrote in a letter to Grassley and released by the White House. “I will be there.”
The development comes as demonstrators congregated in a Senate office building to protest against Republicans’ handling of the situation. About 100 people marched to Grassley’s office for a sit-in, some with fists raised.
Referring back to the 1991 hearings on Capitol Hill when Anita Hill accused now-supreme court judge Clarence Thomas of sexual harassment, the demonstrators chanted: “We believe Anita Hill! We believe Christine Ford!” Some told Grassley aides they themselves have been victims of harassment. Thomas denied the allegations.
Meanwhile, a Democratic senator viewed as a possible swing vote announced she would vote against him. The Missouri senator Claire McCaskill, who is locked in a tight midterm re-election fight, said Wednesday night she would vote no on the nomination.
She called the sexual assault allegations against him “troubling”, but said the charges were not the basis for her decision.
“My decision is not based on those allegations but rather on his positions on several key issues, most importantly the avalanche of dark, anonymous money that is crushing our democracy,” she said in a statement posted on Twitter. “He has revealed his bias against limits on campaign donations which places him completely out of the mainstream of this nation.”
But Senator Dean Heller, a Republican of Nevada, predicted Donald Trump’s nominee would be confirmed, despite what he called the “hiccup” of allegations by the California university professor that Kavanaugh attacked her in high school.
“We got a little hiccup here with the Kavanaugh nomination, we’ll get through this and we’ll get off to the races,” he said on Wednesday on a conference call with the Nevada Republican party, according to the Nevada Independent.
Anita Hill has backed Ford’s position.
“Without an investigation, there cannot be an effective hearing,” she toldPBS NewsHour on Wednesday.
“It’s ironic that we have senators who are deciding about who is going to sit on the highest court, but they can’t really put partisanship aside long enough to put together a fair hearing to get to the truth about this situation,” Hill said.
Senator Mazie Hirono, a Democratic judiciary committee member, said the FBI should also investigate death threats the accuser has since received.
“I think there’s a crime that’s occurring right now … sounds like witness tampering to me,” she told MSNBC.
Kavanaugh has been spotted at the White House each day this week, CNN reported.