Politics

Game On: Grassley and Kavanaugh Accuser Continue to Play Chicken

Deadlines come and go as nomination is delayed

Senate Judiciary Chairman Charles Grassley, R-Iowa, has extended a deadline for Christine Blasey Ford to testify about her claim she was sexually assaulted by Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh when they were teen-agers (Photo By Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

When — or if — Chistine Blasey Ford will testify before the Senate Judiciary Committee about her claim that Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh sexually assaulted her is very much up in the air.

But a pattern has emerged. Deadlines come. Deadlines go. In the meantime, the debate over what happened — and the fate of Kavanaugh’s nomination — continues.

The latest round played out in the late hours Friday, when  a tweet by Senate Judiciary Chairman Charles E. Grassley indicated that Ford would apparently get more time to decide whether she will testify.

Again.

Grassley tweeted late Friday night that he had granted Ford another extension “if she wants to proceed w the statement she made last week to testify to the senate.”

“It’s not my normal approach to b indecisive,” Grassley wrote at 11:42 p.m. Friday.

That was after Grassley had threatened to schedule a vote Monday on Kavanaugh’s nomination if Ford didn’t agree to testify on that day. The Judiciary committee had set a 5 p.m. deadline Friday for Ford’s attorneys and the panel to agree to terms.

After that deadline passed without a resolution, Grassley had issued a statement.

“It’s Friday night and nothing’s been agreed to despite our extensive efforts to make testimony possible,” the Iowa Republican said. “I’m extending the deadline for response yet again to 10 o’clock this evening. I’m providing a notice of a vote to occur Monday in the event that Dr. Ford’s attorneys don’t respond or Dr. Ford decides not to testify. In the event that we can come to a reasonable resolution as I’ve been seeking all week, then I will postpone the committee vote to accommodate her testimony. We cannot continue to delay.”

Grassley’s frustration was evident in his series of late-night tweets.

First, he tweeted that “Five times now we hv granted extension for Dr Ford to decide if she wants to proceed w her desire stated one wk ago that she wants to tell senate her story.”

Then, Grassley offered another extension.

And before he left the keyboard for the night, he took a dig at Senate Minority Leader Charles E. Schumer of New York.

Schumer and other Democrats have pushed back hard as Republicans have sought to move Kavanaugh’s nomination forward, with or without Ford’s testimony. Schumer also has backed Ford’s call  for a FBI investigation into her contention that the nominee sexually assaulted her 36 years ago before she testifies. 

President Donald Trump initially maintained some distance from the controversy, a posture that some political observers viewed as prudent — and uncharacteristic for someone with a reputation for taking on threats to his agenda head-on.

At one point, he even appeared to signal he might reconsider Kavanaugh’s nomination if Ford was believable in testimony before the Judiciary Committee, even as he praised the federal judge.

But that changed. Trump’s praise for his “truly spectacular” Supreme Court nominee grew.

He bridled at the delays keeping his nominee off the Supreme Court, saying in an interview that Senate Democrats and Ford should “get on with it.”

And he suggested in a tweet that if the alleged sexual assault was as bad as Ford claimed, “charges would have been immediately filed with local Law Enforcement Authorities by either her or her loving parents.”

Ford, A California professor went public with her allegation that Kavanaugh sexually assaulted her when they were high school students in the early 1980s in a Sept. 16 article by the Washington Post . Ford, a 51-year-old research psychologist who teaches at Palo Alto University, alleged that Kavanaugh and a friend — both “stumbling drunk” — corralled her in a bedroom. There, according to the account, Kavanaugh pinned her on a bed and groped her while attempting to pull off her one-piece bathing suit and the clothes she was wearing over it. She claimed the incident occurred at a gathering of teen-agers at a house in Montgomery County.