Kavanaugh Accuser Seeks Terms for Testimony as Deadline Looms

The woman accusing Brett Kavanaugh, President Donald Trump’s U.S. Supreme Court nominee, of sexual assault told a Senate committee she would be willing to testify later next week as a Friday deadline set by the Republican-led panel loomed.

Christine Blasey Ford, a psychology professor at Palo Alto University in California, had been given until Friday morning to decide whether to testify before the Senate Judiciary Committee scheduled on Monday.

Her lawyers and committee staff spoke by phone on Thursday night, a panel official said without giving details.

Democrats, who opposed the conservative federal appeals court judge even before Ford made her allegation, have accused Republicans of rushing the nomination before the Nov. 6 congressional elections. Trump and other Republicans, cautious of alienating women, have treated Ford carefully while calling for a quick vote.

On Friday, it remained unclear how the hearing would go ahead.

Trump, at a rally in Las Vegas on Thursday night, said, “So we’ll let it play out, and I think everything is going to be just fine.”

Ford has said Kavanaugh sexually assaulted her in 1982 when both were high school students in Maryland. Kavanaugh has denied the allegation and pledged to testify at Monday’s hearing.

The committee’s Republican chairman, Senator Chuck Grassley, gave Ford until 10 a.m. (1400 GMT) on Friday to give prepared testimony if she planned to appear on Monday. He has said he offered a private hearing and other options for her to testify.

A person familiar with the committee’s phone call with Ford said she had told lawmakers she could testify by next Thursday.

The telephone discussion ended with no decision, according to media reports, which also said Ford’s lawyers wanted Kavanaugh to appear separately first and that she wanted to be questioned by senators, not outside counsel.

Ford’s legal team has said she strongly prefers that her allegations are fully investigated before she testifies.

White House adviser Kellyanne Conway, who has encouraged Ford to be heard, said on CNN on Friday that Ford’s requests were a “laundry list of demands.”

The Senate panel must approve Kavanaugh’s confirmation before a full vote by the Senate, where Republicans hold a 51-49 most. Kavanaugh’s confirmation would be the second of the Trump administration and solidify conservative control of the nation’s top court.

Ford’s team has sought guarantees of her safety because of death threats. Kavanaugh and his wife also had received threats, a senior White House official said.

Supporters of Kavanaugh have also rallied behind him, while people backing Ford protested in Congress on Thursday.

Ford’s family has also moved to publicly defend her, including an open letter on Twitter.

“I’m sure she’s preparing mentally to embrace her truth and kind of get past the things that have made her feel like she has to hide it and be silent,” her sister-in-law Deborah Ford Peters told ABC’s “Good Morning America.”

-Reuters

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