Politics

Kavanaugh Accuser Commits to Thursday Testimony, Judiciary Committee Announces Hearing

Some questions remain unresolved ahead of potentially pivotal Thursday hearing

The Senate Judiciary Committee, led by Chairman Charles E. Grassley, R-Iowa, is expected to hear from Christine Blasey Ford on Thursday (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

Christine Blasey Ford is now scheduled to testify Thursday morning at the Senate Judiciary Committee regarding her sexual assault allegation against Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh.

The panel formally announced the rescheduling of the continued high court confirmation hearing Sunday afternoon. The hearing had been expected to continue Monday, but Ford’s lawyers have been in negotiations about timing with the committee’s Republican majority.

“We committed to moving forward with an open hearing on Thursday Sept 27 at 10:00 am. 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,” the lawyers said in a statement. “She has agreed to move forward with a hearing even though the Committee has refused to subpoena Mark Judge.”

The decision sets up a historic and high-stakes hearing between the longtime federal appeals court judge who has unequivocally denied Ford’s allegation and a California professor who says he pinned her down and attempted to rape her at a high school party when he was 17 years old.

Speaking for Ford, attorneys Debra Katz, Lisa Banks and Michael R. Bromwich said some logistical challenges will still need to be sorted out.

Among the questions is whether actual Republican senators serving on the Judiciary Committee will be asking questions or whether staff will take on that responsibility.

“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,” Ford’s lawyers said. “Nor were we told when we would have that answer or answers to the other unresolved issues. We look forward to hearing back from the Majority staff as soon as possible on these important matters.”

In any case, a confirmed Thursday hearing would seem to preclude the possibility of a vote to report Kavanaugh’s nomination to the floor during a committee markup that would normally be scheduled for that same day.

 

 

In their response to Ford’s lawyers, Judiciary Committee staff reiterated Chairman Charles E. Grassley’s promise to “do everything in his power to provide a safe, comfortable, and dignified forum for Dr. Ford to testify.”

But the staff stood firm that only the committee will decide who will testify. 

“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 non-negotiable,” they wrote.

Sen. Jeff Flake of Arizona, a Judiciary member, and Sen. Susan Collins of Maine were among the Republicans who wanted to hear from Ford before voting on Kavanugh’s nomination.

Flake tweeted Saturday, “Progress on a Judiciary Committee hearing is being made. This is good.”

The hearing scheduling announcement comes two days after Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell seemed to discount the allegations or their potential effect on confirmation of Kavanaugh, who is currently a judge on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit.

“Here’s what I want to tell you: In the very near future, Judge Kavanaugh will be on the United States Supreme Court,” the Kentucky Republican told a conservative audience Friday.

Watch: McConnell to Family Research Council, ‘We’re Changing America’

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