World / Politics

Accuser of Trump's high court nominee willing to testify if terms are fair and her safety is ensured: reports

Reuters

A lawyer for the woman accusing Brett Kavanaugh, President Donald Trump’s U.S. Supreme Court nominee, of sexual assault told a Senate panel the professor would be willing to testify next week if it provides “terms that are fair and which ensure her safety,” an email obtained by U.S. media on Thursday showed.

Christine Blasey Ford, a psychology professor at Palo Alto University in California, has been given a Friday deadline to decide whether to testify before the Judiciary Committee, but Republican lawmakers and the accuser remained locked in a high-stakes standoff over whether she will appear.

The email from Ford’s lawyer, Debra Katz, was reported on by the New York Times, Washington Post and CNN.

“As you (are) aware, she’s been receiving death threats which have been reported to the FBI and she and her family have been forced out of their home,” Katz wrote to the committee staff, according to the Washington Post. “She wishes to testify, provided that we can agree on terms that are fair and which ensure her safety.”

“A hearing on Monday is not possible and the committee’s insistence that it occur then is arbitrary in any event,” according to the email.

Kavanaugh, the conservative federal appeals court judge nominated by Trump in July for the lifetime job as a Supreme Court justice, also has been invited to testify on Monday.

Chuck Grassley, the committee’s Republican chairman, on Wednesday sent a letter to Ford’s lawyers giving her until 10 a.m. (1400 GMT) on Friday to submit prepared testimony if she intended to show up on Monday.

A group of about 40 protesters, most of them women, clogged the lobby of Grassley’s Senate office on Thursday. Many wore buttons with the words “I believe Dr. Christine Blasey Ford.”

They asked to speak to Grassley and were told the senator is in Iowa, according to Marcie Wells of Las Vegas, a member of the Women’s March organization, which has been outspoken in opposition to Kavanaugh’s nomination.

Ford has said Kavanaugh sexually assaulted her in 1982 when both were high school students in Maryland, an allegation Kavanaugh has called “completely false.”

Her lawyers said on Tuesday she would testify before the committee only if the FBI first investigated her allegation. The FBI has said it is not investigating, a decision backed by Republicans.

The confirmation fight has unfolded just weeks before Nov. 6 congressional elections in which Democrats are seeking to take control of Congress from the Republicans. Kavanaugh’s confirmation would solidify conservative control of the Supreme Court and further Trump’s goal of moving the high court and the broader federal judiciary to the right.

Trump’s fellow Republicans appear to be counting on her failure to quickly agree to testify on Monday as a boost for Kavanaugh’s confirmation chances. The Senate is narrowly controlled by Republicans, who have embraced the idea of a quick vote on Kavanaugh’s nomination if Ford does not to testify.

Ford came forward with the allegation in an interview published in the Washington Post last Sunday. She accused Kavanaugh of attacking her and trying to remove her clothing while he was drunk at a party when he was 17 years old and she was 15.

Democrats, who opposed Kavanaugh’s confirmation even before Ford’s allegation surfaced, pressed ahead with demands for an FBI investigation.

“For this to be a fair, deliberate and open process, we need to let the FBI do its job and allow agents to conduct a full investigation of the allegations bravely brought forward by Dr. Ford,” Democratic Sen. Chris Coons wrote on Twitter on Thursday.

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