Christine Blasey Ford Agrees to Testify Next Week — With Conditions
Christine Blasey Ford, the California professor who has accused Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh of sexually assaulting her 30 years ago, has agreed to testify at a Senate Judiciary Committee hearing next week.
But Ford's lawyers say details of her appearance have yet to be worked out and they criticized Republicans for the way negotiations with their client have been conducted. A letter from Ford's lawyers, Debra S. Katz and Lisa Banks, read:
Dr. Ford accepts the Committee's request to provide her first-hand knowledge of Brett Kavanaugh's sexual misconduct next week. Although many aspects of the proposal you provided via email, on September 21, 2018, at 2:33 pm, are fundamentally inconsistent with the Committee's promise of a fair, impartial investigation into her allegations, and we are disappointed with the leaks and the bullying that have tainted the process, we are hopeful that we can reach agreement on details. Can we set up a time for later this afternoon to continue our negotiations?
The Senate's oversight body and Ford's representatives have been in a protracted negotiations for her to appear in person, but failed to agree to terms. Meanwhile, Democrats have made numerous attempts to stall Kavanaugh's selection, with the GOP still holding a slim majority in the Senate.
But some Republicans believe the agreement to appear, sent just minutes before a 2:30 p.m. deadline set by Chairman Charles Grassley, is a smokescreen to delay a vote on the nominee. The Washington Post reports that one White House official said, “This is an ask to continue 'negotiations' without committing to anything... It's a clever way to push off the vote Monday without committing to appear Wednesday.”
Republicans say they have bent over backward to accommodate Ford's requests.
Republicans said they would accommodate several of Ford’s requests, including ensuring that she had adequate security at the Capitol and that Kavanaugh would not be in the room when she speaks. But the GOP also declined her other asks, including that Kavanaugh testify first and that the committee subpoena Mark Judge — a Kavanaugh friend who Ford says was present during the alleged incident — and call other potential witnesses to the hearing.
“If this process to secure her testimony falls apart, the fault is totally and clearly on the Republican leadership,” Sen. Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.) said in a phone interview Saturday.
The person familiar with Ford’s legal team’s thinking said Saturday that the attorneys will continue to push for their other demands, including whether senators will question Ford directly or whether they will use staff attorneys, and whether they will subpoena Judge.
The Republican-led committee had also offered a Wednesday hearing, rather than Thursday as Ford had asked for, and they wanted to reserve the option of having female staff attorneys on the committee do the questioning, even while Ford said she would rather be questioned by senators.