Kavanaugh accuser commits to testify
WASHINGTON • Attorneys for Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh’s accuser, Christine Blasey Ford, and the Senate Judiciary Committee have reached agreement for a public hearing Thursday.
Ford committed to an “open” hearing after negotiators convened a call on Sunday. A spokesman for the committee’s chairman, Sen. Chuck Grassley, confirmed the hearing would take place at 10 a.m. Thursday.
Tensions have been running on overdrive since Ford, now a 51-year-old California college professor, went public with her allegation that Kavanaugh assaulted her at a party in high school. Kavanaugh, 53, an appellate court judge, denied the allegation and said he wanted to testify as soon as possible to clear his name.
A final accord could bring to a close days of brinkmanship that have roiled Washington ahead of mid-term elections and threatened to jeopardize Kavanaugh’s confirmation to the court.
Ford agreed that she will testify ahead of Kavanaugh, rather than her preference to appear after him, according to a source familiar with the talks. But who will be asking the questions remains unresolved, the lawyers said.
Republicans were trying to hire an outside female counsel who could take over the questioning. The 11 senators on the GOP side of the dais are all men, which could send an unwanted message on live television against the backdrop of the #MeToo era.
Earlier Sunday, Sen. Lindsey Graham, a Republican on the committee, said lawyers for Ford are contesting two GOP conditions — that Ford and Kavanaugh will be the only witnesses and that an independent counsel will ask the questions.
Graham, speaking on Fox News Sunday, promised a fair hearing in which both Ford and Kavanaugh “will be challenged” but said “unless there’s something more” to back up her accusation, then he’s “not going to ruin Judge Kavanaugh’s life over this.
“I’m being honest with you and everybody else. … What am I supposed to do?” Graham asked, explaining his dilemma over an allegation of a 1980s incident that is past the statute of limitations for criminal charges. “But she should come forward. She should have her say.”
The lawyers for Ford want the committee to hear from other witnesses, a person familiar with the talks said. Ford’s lawyers also want to call on two trauma experts, the source said.
Relatives attend a mass burial service Sunday at Ukara Island, Tanzania, for victims of Thursday’s Lake Victoria ferry accident. At least 224 passengers are confirmed dead. .