GOP sets Friday deadline in standoff over Kavanaugh accuser

Republicans in the U.S. Senate on Wednesday publicly pressed a California woman to agree to testify about her allegations of sexual misconduct against Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh, as Democrats and Dr. Christine Blasey Ford insisted instead on an FBI investigation of her claims, arguing a hearing set for Monday was not a satisfactory review.

“The rush to a hearing is unnecessary, and contrary to the Committee discovering the truth,” said Ford’s lawyer, Debra Katz, in a written statement.

Meanwhile, Senate Judiciary Chairman Charles Grassley (R-IA) gave Ford an ultimatum – submit her testimony and background documents by 10 am on Friday morning, or forego an opportunity to testify on Monday.

“You have stated repeatedly that Dr. Ford wants to tell her story,” Grassley said in a letter to Ford’s lawyer. “I sincerely hope Dr. Ford will accept my invitation to do so.”



Republicans revealed on Wednesday afternoon that Democrats still had not turned over an unredacted copy of Ford’s original letter, as the two parties seemed to be talking past each other, with little evidence of cooperation evident.

At the White House, the President repeated his support for Judge Kavanaugh, but again refused to be drawn into the debate over the veracity of Dr. Ford’s sexual harassment claim.

“I’d really want to see her. I really would want to see what she has to say,” the President said before leaving to see damage in the Carolinas from Hurricane Florence, as he said the unfolding events were unfair to the Judge and his family.

“I would say this: I think he’s an extraordinary man,” the President told reporters. “I think he’s a man of great intellect, as I’ve been telling you. And he has an unblemished record.”

As the tug of war over Ford’s possible testimony continued, Democrats assailed the process, amid a growing sense on Capitol Hill that a final vote could come as early as next week.

“I will vote no on Judge Kavanaugh,” said Sen. Clare McCaskill (D-MO), who is in a tough bid for re-election, as she said her decision was not based on the allegations made against him.

Democrats said the attacks on Ford – which her lawyer says have brought death threats and more – were reminiscent of the reaction to Anita Hill, which spurred a reaction in the 1992 elections, sometimes dubbed, “the Year of the Woman” on Capitol Hill.

“This is what they did to Anita Hill in 1991,” said Sen. Patty Murray (D-WA). “We must do better in 2018.”

“Denying Dr. Ford an FBI investigation is silencing her,” said Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY). “Forcing her into a sham hearing is silencing her.”

The handful of GOP Senators who remain on the fence about Kavanaugh joined their leaders in urging Ford to testify on Monday, saying that was the only way to figure out whether something happened, and how it might impact the Judge’s nomination.

“I hope that Dr. Ford will reconsider and testify before the Senate Judiciary Committee on Monday,” said Sen. Susan Collins (R-ME), who labeled the allegations ‘serious,’ but was not giving hints that she would vote against the President’s nominee.

Sen. Jeff Flake (R-AZ) – who has said he would vote against Kavanaugh if the allegations turned out to be true – called out the President’s son on Twitter, over a photo passed on by Donald Trump Jr.

“This is sickening,” Flake tweeted. “No one should make light of this situation.”

But other Republicans were ready to move on, making the argument that if Dr. Ford won’t show up on Monday – then it’s time to vote.

“It is imperative the Judiciary committee move forward on the Kavanaugh nomination and a committee vote be taken as soon as possible,” said Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC).

The partisan battling dismayed one veteran of the Senate who had a front row seat to a similar fight 27 years ago.

“If there is a hearing with testimony from Dr. Ford and Judge Kavanaugh that is not perceived to be fair, the Senate as an institution and the confirmation process are likely to suffer in public opinion, as was the case with the Clarence Thomas-Anita Hill hearings,” said former Sen. Sam Nunn, a Democrat from Georgia.

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