Hearing for Kavanaugh Accuser To Be Set09/23 10:01
Details must be worked out on a tentative agreement for a Thursday hearing
for Brett Kavanaugh's accuser, Christine Blasey Ford, to tell the Senate
Judiciary Committee about her allegation that the Supreme Court nominee
sexually assaulted her decades ago. Talks were continuing Sunday.
WASHINGTON (AP) -- Details must be worked out on a tentative agreement for a
Thursday hearing for Brett Kavanaugh's accuser, Christine Blasey Ford, to tell
the Senate Judiciary Committee about her allegation that the Supreme Court
nominee sexually assaulted her decades ago. Talks were continuing Sunday.
Lawyers for Ford and bipartisan representatives of the committee came to the
tentative agreement after a short but productive phone call late Saturday, said
a person briefed on the matter, who was not authorized to speak publicly and
requested anonymity. The person said Kavanaugh would also appear.
Some details of the hearing, such as the order of their testimony, remained
in negotiation and talks were expected to continue Sunday. A second person
confirmed the tentative agreement for the hearing Thursday.
The tentative accord could begin to close days of high-stakes brinkmanship
that have roiled Washington ahead of midterm elections and threatened to
jeopardize Kavanaugh's confirmation to the court.
Tensions have been running on overdrive since Ford, a 51-year-old college
professor in California, went public with her allegation that Kavanaugh
assaulted her when they were at a house party in high school. Kavanaugh, an
appellate court judge, denied the allegation and said he wanted to testify as
soon as possible to clear his name.
Ford initially indicated she wanted to tell her story to the committee, but
talks dragged on as her lawyers negotiated terms of her appearance.
Republicans have grown frustrated as Ford's lawyers insisted on a hearing
next Thursday rather than Monday or even Wednesday and made other requests,
some of which the committee chairman, Sen. Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa, rejected.
Democrats, against the backdrop of the #MeToo movement, countered that Ford
should be shown respect and given accommodation to tell her story.
As the talks continued, Grassley warned that he would schedule a Monday vote
on whether to recommend Kavanaugh's nomination to the full Senate. On Saturday,
both sides convened for the phone call that lasted about 15-20 minutes.
Meanwhile, Republicans viewed Ford's requests as a way to delay voting on
President Donald Trump's nominee.
As Republicans were considering their next move in private talks Saturday,
fresh divisions were emerging between those who have advocated confirmation and
other GOP senators who have expressed his interest in hearing Ford's story
The White House is approaching Ford's potential testimony with trepidation,
nervous that an emotional performance might not just damage Kavanaugh's chances
but could further energize female voters to turn out against Republicans in
November against the backdrop of the #MeToo movement.
Moreover, the West Wing aides who had urged Trump to remain muted in his
response to the accusations worried about how the president might react to an
hourslong, televised hearing. In tweet Friday, Trump broke his silence to cast
doubt on Ford's story in ways Republicans had been carefully trying to avoid.
Trump mused to confidants that the "fake" attacks against his nominee were
meant to undermine his presidency, according to a White House official and a
Republican close to the White House. Both spoke on condition of anonymity
because they were not authorized to discuss private conversations.
Other Republicans scoffed at Ford's latest offer questioning her willingness
to accept the committee's request to tell her story.
"When?" tweeted the No. 2 GOP Sen. John Cornyn of Texas, a member of the
Details of the Thursday hearing remain in flux.
On Friday, Grassley turned down Ford's request that only senators, not
attorneys, be allowed to ask questions. The committee's 11 Republicans -- all
men -- have been seeking an outside female attorney to interrogate Ford,
mindful of the election-season impression that could be left by men trying to
pick apart a woman's assertion of a sexual attack.
He also rejected her proposal that she testify after Kavanaugh, a position
lawyers consider advantageous because it gives them a chance to rebut
Grassley rebuffed other Ford requests, including calling additional
witnesses. Ford wants an appearance by Mark Judge, a Kavanaugh friend who Ford
asserts was at the high school party and in the room where the incident
The lawyers for Ford wrote to the committee on Saturday that she "accepts
the Committee's request to provide her first-hand knowledge of Brett
Kavanaugh's sexual misconduct next week."
Attorneys Debra Katz and Lisa Banks said that many aspects of Grassley's
latest offer were "fundamentally inconsistent" with the committee's promise of
a "fair, impartial investigation." They said they remained disappointed by the
"bullying" that "tainted the process." Yet they remained "hopeful that we can
reach agreement on details."
Ford's interests are being aided by another prominent Washington attorney,
Michael Bromwich, a former Justice Department inspector general. He said on
Twitter Saturday that he had joined her legal team.
Democrats on the committee came to Ford's side.
"Let's all remember that Dr. Ford is not on trial, rather Judge Kavanaugh is
seeking a lifetime appointment to the Supreme Court," said Sen. Chris Coons,
D-Del. He said she "should be treated with the respect she deserves."
Patience among Republicans, though, is running thin. The GOP is facing
enormous pressure from its base of conservative leaders and voters to swiftly
approve Kavanaugh, who would become the second of Trump's nominees to sit on
the nation's highest court, ahead of the Nov. 6 election.
Earlier Saturday amid the latest deadline standoff Vice President Mike Pence
called Kavanaugh "a man of integrity with impeccable credentials." He said he
expected Kavanaugh to join the high court soon.
The lawyer for a woman who Brett Kavanaugh's accuser has said attended the
1980s party at which he allegedly molested her has told Senate Republican
investigators that the woman doesn't recall such a gathering or know the
Supreme Court nominee.
The Washington Post reports Saturday that Christine Blasey Ford told them
that Leland Keyser was at that high school party.
A GOP Judiciary Committee investigator contacted Keyser last Tuesday, saying
Keyser had been "identified" as attending that party and wanted to talk to her.
Committee spokesman Taylor Foy said Keyser's name "came up" in its
But in an email late Saturday, Keyser attorney Howard Walsh told the
committee she "does not know Mr. Kavanaugh and she has no recollection" of ever
attending a gathering with Kavanaugh.
That response seemed a setback to Ford supporters' efforts to corroborate