Ka­vanaugh's ac­cuser reaches deal to tes­tify

Tes­ti­mony set for Thurs­day af­ter hours of talks, sources say.

Austin American-Statesman - - FRONT PAGE - Sh­eryl Gay Stol­berg and Ni­cholas Fan­dos ©2018 The New York Times

The woman who has ac­cused Judge Brett Ka­vanaugh of sex­u­ally as­sault­ing her when they were teenagers has reached a fi­nal agree­ment with the Se­nate Ju­di­ciary Com­mit­tee to tes­tify Thurs­day, although some de­tails —in­clud­ing whether Repub­li­cans will use an out­side lawyer to ques­tion her — re­main un­re­solved, peo­ple in­volved in the talks said Sun­day.

The agree­ment, reached af­ter an hour­long ne­go­ti­at­ing ses­sion Sun­day morn­ing be­tween her lawyers and com­mit­tee aides, is the lat­est step in a halt­ing pro­cess to­ward a po­ten­tially ex­plo­sive hear­ing that will pit the woman, Chris­tine Blasey Ford, against Ka­vanaugh, Pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump’s sec­ond nom­i­nee to the Supreme Court. On Sat­ur­day, the two sides had reached a ten­ta­tive agree­ment for Blasey to ap­pear Thurs­day.

“De­spite ac­tual threats to her safety and her life, Dr. Ford be­lieves it is im­por­tant for se­na­tors to hear di­rectly from her about the sex­ual as­sault com­mit­ted against her,” her lawyers, De­bra S. Katz, Lisa J. Banks and Michael R. Bromwich, said in a state­ment Sun­day morn­ing, adding that while some lo­gis­ti­cal and other de­tails were not yet set­tled, “theyw ill not im­pede the hear­ing tak­ing place.”

The on-again, off-again talks — with an ap­point­ment to the na­tion’s high­est court in the bal­ance — have con­sumed of­fi­cial Wash­ing­ton, and thrown con­fir­ma­tion pro­ceed­ings for Ka­vanaugh, who has vig­or­ously de­nied Blasey’s al­le­ga­tions, into tur­moil. Un­til last week, Ka­vana- ugh’s con­fir­ma­tion seemed all but as­sured; Blasey’s tes­ti­mony has the po­ten­tial to al­ter that.

At least one Repub­li­can sen­a­tor, Lind­sey Gra­ham of South Carolina, said Sun­day that it was un­likely that Blasey’s tes­ti­mony would change his mind. He ac­cused Democrats of tak­ing ad­van­tage of her.

“I want to lis­ten to Dr. Ford. I feel sorry for her. I think she’s be­ing used here,” he said on “Fox News Sun­day,” adding, “I’m not go­ing to play a game here and tell you this will wipe out his en­tire life, be­cause if noth­ing changes, it won’t with me.”

The Blasey ac­cu­sa­tions carry un­mis­tak­able echoes of the 1991 con­fir­ma­tion hear­ings of Jus­tice Clarence Thomas, who was ac­cused of sex­ual ha­rass­ment by the law pro­fes­sor Anita Hill. The Thomas hear­ings riv­eted the na­tion, and the hear­ing with Blasey prom­ises a sim­i­lar spec­ta­cle, one that will in­vari­ably ex­plore Ka­vana- ugh’s up­bring­ing in the ex­clu- sive world of prep schools in sub­ur­ban Wash­ing­ton.

Both Ka­vanaugh and Blasey at­tended pri­vate schools, and she has said that the judge and a friend of his were “stum­bling drunk” when the as­sault oc­curred in about 1982. Sen. Richard Durbin of Illi­nois, the No. 2 Demo­crat in the Se­nate, said Sun­day that ques­tions about Kava- naugh’s high school al­co­hol con­sump­tion were bound to come up.

“Well, it’s cer­tainly rele- vant to the whole con­ver­sa­tion,” Durbin said on the ABC pro­gram “This Week.” “Dr. Ford has said that they were stum­bling drunk at the time that this oc­curred. And there have been a lot of things said about the alco- hol that was con­sumed by the judge as well as by oth- ers in his school. That has to be part of any rel­e­vant ques­tion­ing.”

The talks be­tween the two sides Sun­day morn­ing pro­duced an agree­ment on the gen­eral shape of the hear­ing, a per­son briefed on the talks said. It will be open to the public; there will be breaks at 45-minute in­ter­vals, or on re­quest; and while Blasey prefers that Ka­vanaugh tes­tify first, she will ac­cept that she might have to go first. There will also be se­cu­rity for Blasey, who has re­ceived death threats, and she will have two lawyers at the wit­ness ta­ble with her.

But other stick­ing points re­main. One is whether the com­mit­tee will sub­poena Mark Judge, a high school friend of Ka­vanaugh’s who Blasey has said was in the room at the time of the as­sault, or any oth­ers said to be at the gath­er­ing where the al­leged as­sault oc­curred. Judge has said he knows of no such in­ci­dent.

But per­haps the big­gest stick­ing point is whether se­na­tors on the Ju­di­ciary Com­mit­tee will ques­tion Blasey them­selves, or use an out­side lawyer or a com­mit­tee aide, most likely a woman.

All the Repub­li­cans on the panel are men. In a mid- term elec­tion sea­son where Repub­li­cans are al­ready strug­gling to con­nect with fe­male vot­ers, party lead­ers des­per­ately want to avoid im­ages of an all-male panel gang­ing up on a woman who says she ex­pe­ri­enced a sex­ual as­sault. There are four women on the Ju­di­ciary Com­mit­tee, but all are Democrats.

Lawyers for Blasey have strongly op­posed hav­ing an out­side ques­tioner, ar­gu­ing that it could give the hear­ing a pros­e­cu­to­rial tone. And Se­nate Democrats have in­di­cated that, no mat­ter whom Repub­li­cans choose to ques­tion Blasey, when she is ques­tioned by Democrats, se­na­tors will be do­ing the talk­ing.

“We were told no de­ci­sion has been made on this im­por­tant is­sue, even though var­i­ous se­na­tors have been dis­mis­sive of her ac­count and should have to shoul­der their re­spon­si­bil­ity to ask her ques­tions,” Blasey’s lawyers said in their state­ment. “Nor were we told when we would have that an­swer or an­swers to the other un­re­solved is­sues.”

Mike Davis, Sen. Chuck Grass­ley’s chief coun­sel for ju­di­cial nom­i­na­tions, wrote in his own mes­sage to the lawyers Sun­day that some of those con­cerns went against stan­dard com­mit­tee pro­ce­dure.

“As with any wit­ness who comes be­fore the Se­nate, the Se­nate Ju­di­ciary Com­mit­tee can­not hand over its con­sti­tu­tional du­ties to at­tor­neys for out­side wit­nesses,” he wrote. “The com­mit­tee de­ter­mines which wit­nesses to call, how many wit­nesses to call, in what or­der to call them, and who will ques­tion them. Th­ese are non­nego­tiable.”

GETTY IM­AGES

Supreme Court nom­i­nee Brett Ka­vanaugh.

DOUG MILLS / THE NEW YORK TIMES

Judge Brett Ka­vanaugh, nom­i­nee for the U.S. Supreme Court, is sworn in Sept. 4 at his con­fir­ma­tion hear­ing in Wash­ing­ton.

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