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Christine Blasey Ford, Kavanaugh Accuser, Has Until Friday to Decide to Testify

September 20, 2018 - 8:22 am

(CBS News) - Christine Blasey Ford, the woman accusing Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh of assaulting her when they were both in high school, has until Friday to decide whether she will testify at a Monday hearing before the Senate Judiciary Committee.

Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa, has set a Friday deadline for Ford to submit testimony, after her attorney has said she doesn't wish to testify until the FBI has completed an investigation into her claims. Republicans on the committee argue they have given Ford sufficient time to respond, and given her the opportunity to testify behind closed doors, or to speak with committee staff in California. 

Kavanaugh arrived at the Eisenhower Executive Office Building just before 10 a.m. Thursday.

The status of a public hearing set for Monday into the allegations against Judge Brett Kavanaugh remained in doubt after lawyers for the woman accusing the judge of sexual misconduct say they want a thorough FBI investigation into the matter before testifying in front of the Senate Judiciary Committee. In a letter sent to Committee Chairman Chuck Grassley, Christine Blasey Ford's lawyers say the FBI investigation would serve as a first step in the process to their client testifying in public. 

President Trump told reporters on the White House South Lawn Wednesday morning that it would be "wonderful" if she testifies, and "unfortunate" if she does not, and, though he said he'll have to hear what she has to say, said it was "very hard for me to imagine anything happened" between her and Kavanaugh. 

"I think he's an extraordinary man -- I think he's a man of great intellect, as I've been telling you, and he has an unblemished record," the president said Wednesday. "This is a very tough thing for him and his family and we want to get over it but at the same time we want to give tremendous amounts of time. If she shows up that would be wonderful if she doesn't show up that would be unfortunate."

"If she shows up and makes a credible showing, that'll be very interesting," the president also said, adding that he "really would want to see what she has to say" in order to express more opinions of her. 

Mr. Trump didn't indicate he would direct the FBI to conduct any further review of the situation, saying, "Well, it would seem the FBI really doesn't do that." The FBI has told CBS News that it has included the allegation in Kavanaugh's background file, and is not opening any additional probe at this time, although the president could theoretically direct the FBI to undertake a further review. Ford has told the committee she doesn't wish to testify next week without a concluded FBI investigation. The president said he trusts the Senate to do its job. 

"They've given it a lot of time, they will continue to give it a lot of time, and really, it's up to the Senate," he said. 

While Kavanaugh intends to return back before the Senate on Monday with or without Ford present, a GOP aide tells CBS News' Nancy Cordes that the committee intends to "leave the opportunity open" for Ford to testify "for as long as possible." It's unclear how the latest developments will impact an eventual vote on Kavanaugh's confirmation out of committee, originally set for this Thursday. 

Follow along for live updates below:

Kavanaugh watch: Back at the White House

Thursday morning, Kavanaugh was spotted back on the White House grounds entering the Eisenhower Executive Office Building. He is believed to be meeting with White House staffers as he prepares to testify once again on Monday. 

Former Ford classmate says she doesn't doubt accuser's experience

"One thing that I think is important to, to my classmates and I is we don't see this as her story; we see this as her experience," Samantha Guerry told "CBS This Morning" in an interview on Wednesday.  

"We have no doubt that this was, in fact, her experience, and I think she's detailed it admirably in the letter than she originally sent and asked for confidentiality on." Guerry said her classmates know Ford to be an "honest, fair and intelligent person of substance" who "deserves to be heard." Guerry has known Ford since the two were in 7th grade at Holton-Arms, a girls' private school in Bethesda, Maryland. She last saw her a few years ago at a class reunion.

"I don't see her as the kind of person who would invite this kind of public firestorm into her life without having the facts behind her,"  "Anybody who knows Christine knows that she's somebody who's very dedicated to the truth."

Guerry described Kavanaugh as being in her "circle of friends" back in grade school. She said in conversations about the allegations with her former classmates, they've found it "quite disturbing how common of an experience this is," Guerry said, adding, " I don't see her as the kind of person who would invite this kind of public firestorm into her life without having the facts behind her."

"If you look at that period of time in the early 1980s, you know Animal House was a big movie, that whole fraternity, this is really funny, we're gonna get wasted and treat women badly and do gross things, that was all very entertaining at that point. It's not entertaining for the people who have to suffer the consequences of that," said Guerry.  -- reporting by Grace Lamb Atkinson