At impasse over testimony by accuser, GOP sets Monday panel vote on Kavanaugh

Ending several days of increasingly political battles over a woman who accused Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh of sexual misconduct, Republicans on the Senate Judiciary Committee declared Friday night that they were unable to reach an agreement for the testimony of Kavanaugh’s accuser, and set a committee vote for Monday over the heated objections of Democrats.

“It’s Friday night and nothing’s been agreed to despite our extensive efforts to make testimony possible,” said Sen. Charles Grassley (R-IA), the chairman of the Judiciary Committee.

Democrats sternly disputed those assertions, charging that Republicans were doing all they could to avoid hearing from Dr. Christine Blasey Ford, who claimed that Kavanaugh assaulted her at a party during their high school years in the early 1980’s.

“It’s clear that Republicans have learned nothing over the last 27 years,” said Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-CA), referring to the confirmation hearings for Justice Clarence Thomas, which featured accusations of sexual harassment leveled against him by law professor Anita Hill.

Just before the deadline, Ford’s lawyers asked for extra time.

But Republicans said enough was enough.

“Chairman Grassley has made every effort all week to find a comfortable way for the Senate to hear Dr. Ford’s story, including sending staff to her,” said Sen. Orrin Hatch (R-UT).

“Delay, delay, delay,” said Sen. John Cornyn (R-TX), as the Senate Judiciary Committee website listed a 10 am Monday “Executive Business Meeting,” where Judge Kavanaugh’s nomination was the first on the list.

Democrats said like with Anita Hill, Ford’s charges merited a review by the FBI, and then hearings by the Judiciary Committee; but the White House and Senate Republicans resisted those calls.

“This strikes us as simply a check-the-box exercise in a rush to confirm Judge Kavanaugh,” a group of Democratic Senators wrote in a joint letter.

“The 11 Republican men on the committee are treating this like a hostage situation,” said Sen. Mazie Hirono (D-HI). “They just don’t get it.”

Democrats also expressed outrage about President Trump’s first real comments directed at Kavanaugh’s accuser, as the President took to Twitter on Friday morning to say that Ford should have gone to the police 36 years ago if something bad happened.

“When women speak up about sexual assault they should be listened to and supported, not bullied, rushed, or given artificial deadlines,” said Sen. Patty Murray (D-WA), who was elected partly in 1992 because of the political backlash to how Republicans dealt with Anita Hill’s allegations against Justice Thomas.

“After spending the day in FBI interviews about death threats against her, Dr. Blasey deserves the minimal decency of 24 hours to make a decision about testifying,” said Sen. Richard Blumenthal (D-CT).

If Republicans move ahead with a vote in committee on Monday, they could push the Kavanaugh nomination through the full Senate – even with Democrats using every delaying tactic in the book – by the end of next week, just in time to get the judge confirmed before the Supreme Court’s term begins on the First Monday in October.

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