Thursday hearing for Kavanaugh accuser stuck on last details


Rep. Steve King (R-Iowa) on Saturday went after Christine Blasey Ford's sexual assault accusation against Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh, calling her story an attempt at "character assassination".

The lawyers said they made "important progress" in a Sunday morning call with Judiciary Committee staff members and agreed to the hearing even though the committee refused to subpoena Mark Judge, who Ford said witnessed the attack, as well as others she said were present.

After days of avoiding a commitment to testify - claiming everything from a fear of flying to failing to understand the dress code - Ford now says she's willing to face questions from the Senate Judiciary Committee, provided the Committee makes certain accommodations which Ford and her legal team have yet to specify.

"Unless there's something more, no I'm not going to ruin Judge Kavanaugh's life over this", Graham said.

The Republican-led committee had insisted that if Ford missed a Friday night deadline to respond to the panel's latest offer, lawmakers would hold a vote Monday on recommending Kavanaugh's nomination for the full Senate to consider.

The lawyers say they are "hopeful that we can reach agreement on details" of Ford's appearance.

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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. But with the slender 51-49 GOP majority and the unpredictability of how Ford and Kavanaugh would come across to millions of American voters should she agree to testify, his approval remains in question. With Republican Sens. Susan Collins of Maine, Lisa Murkowski of Alaska and Jeff Flake of Arizona saying they wanted to hear from Ford before voting, Grassley couldn't very well cut off discussion. The committee still has to decide whether Kavanaugh is fit to become President Donald Trump's second appointee to the Supreme Court.

"I will listen, but I'm not going to play a game here and tell you this will wipe out his entire life", Graham said. Moderate female voters will be pivotal in many races in the elections and the #MeToo movement has elevated the political potency of how women alleging abuse are treated. In response, Debra Katz, who is representing Ford, wrote in a letter to the committee that its "cavalier treatment of a sexual assault survivor who has been doing her best to cooperate with the Committee is completely inappropriate". The terms of their agreement provide that Kavanaugh will also appear before the committee but he will not be in the room while Ford is speaking or being questioned.

Nevertheless, Democrats continued to complain Republicans were "bullying" Ford by asking her to tell her story under oath.

Trump's tweet on Friday said, "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". And so we are left basically with he-said, she-said.

Republicans have accused Democrats of sitting on the doctor's allegation during the hearings and looking to delay the vote until after the midterms in November. Ford dropped her initial request for an FBI investigation of her allegations.

Ford, a research psychologist at Palo Alto University in California, agreed to testify before the panel on Thursday and continue ironing out the details Sunday. Well, someone told Whelan what was up, and any coordination with Kavanaugh (for example, via the right-wing PR outfit CRC, who hyped Whelan's revelation), would be separate grounds for denying him confirmation and would also ensnare the judge in the host of civil and ethical problems Whelan created.