AP

Kavanaugh and His Accuser to Testify Publicly Next Week

September 17, 2018 - 4:15 pm
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WASHINGTON (AP) —  Republicans abruptly laid plans Monday for a Senate committee hearing at which Brett Kavanaugh and the woman alleging he sexually assaulted her decades ago will testify publicly, as GOP leaders grudgingly opted for a dramatic showdown they hoped would prevent the accusation from sinking his Supreme Court nomination.

Just hours after GOP leaders signaled their preference for private, staff telephone interviews of Kavanaugh and Christine Blasey Ford, Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Chuck Grassley said his panel would hold a hearing next Monday with both of them. Republican aides spoke by phone Monday with Kavanaugh and tried reaching Ford, Grassley said, but Democrats refused to participate in that process.

"To provide ample transparency, we will hold a public hearing Monday to give these recent allegations a full airing," Grassley, R-Iowa, said in a written statement.

Earlier, GOP leaders had shown no interest in a theatrical spectacle that would thrust Kavanaugh and Ford before television cameras with each offering public — and no doubt conflicting — versions of what they say did or didn't happen at a party in the early 1980s. With the #MeToo movement galvanizing liberal and female voters and already costing prominent men their jobs in government, journalism and entertainment, a hearing would be a politically jarring prelude to the November elections for control of Congress.

President Donald Trump says "a little delay" may be needed on an upcoming Senate Judiciary Committee vote on the Supreme Court nomination of Judge Brett Kavanaugh. But the president is predicting that it will "work out very well."

The president is facing questions about Kavanaugh amid scrutiny of a woman's claim that the judge sexually assaulted her at a party when they were both in high school.

Trump says he wants a "full process" to investigate the allegations. But the president says Kavanaugh's nomination is "on track. I think he's very much on track."

Trump is praising Kavanaugh as one of the finest people he's known. And he called a question about whether Kavanaugh should withdraw "ridiculous."

3:09 p.m.

Democratic Sen. Claire McCaskill wants a review of the sexual misconduct allegations made against President Donald Trump's Supreme Court nominee, Judge Brett Kavanaugh.

The Missouri senator says she's "deeply troubled" by the allegations raised by Christine Blasey Ford, who says Kavanaugh sexually assaulted her more than 30 years ago when they were in high school. Kavanaugh denies the claims.

McCaskill is among 10 Senate Democrats up for re-election in states Trump won. She hasn't said how she will vote on Kavanaugh.

A spokeswoman for her challenger, Republican Josh Hawley, didn't immediately respond to requests for comment. Hawley has said he supports Kavanaugh's confirmation.

Missouri's other senator, Republican Sen. Roy Blunt, also said the Judiciary Committee should examine Ford's claims before further action is taken.

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2:55 p.m.

Three Senate Democrats up for re-election say the woman accusing Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh of sexual misconduct should testify before the Senate Judiciary Committee.

Professor Christine Blasey Ford says Kavanaugh sexually assaulted her when they were in high school more than three decades ago. Kavanaugh has denied the allegations.

North Dakota Sen. Heidi Heitkamp , who is up for re-election in a state where President Donald Trump is popular, says the Senate needs to listen to Ford and hear her story. Her election opponent, Republican Kevin Cramer, questioned the timing of the allegation and says the confirmation process should proceed.

Sen. Joe Manchin of West Virginia, another Democrat facing a tough re-election race, says Ford and Kavanaugh should testify "as quickly as possible."

Manchin says Ford "deserves to be heard" and Kavanaugh "deserves a chance to clear his name."

Indiana Sen. Joe Donnelly, another vulnerable Democrat, says that the allegations are "serious" and merit further review.

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2:54 p.m.

Former Vice President Joe Biden is suggesting the Senate Judiciary Committee postpone its vote on the confirmation of Supreme Court nominee Brent Kavanaugh, and that the committee investigate the decades-old allegations of sexual assault against him.

In a statement from spokesman Bill Russo, Biden says Kavanaugh's accuser, Christine Blasey Ford, "deserves a fair and respectful hearing of her allegations, and that the Committee should undertake a thorough and non-partisan effort to get to the truth, wherever it leads."

Biden, a Democrat, was a longtime member of the committee during his 36 years in the Senate from Delaware before becoming vice president in 2009. Biden is weighing a 2020 campaign for president.

Biden was the committee's chairman during the contentious Supreme Court confirmation hearings of Robert Bork in 1987 and presided over Clarence Thomas' hearing in 1991 when Anita Hill accused Thomas of sexual harassment, allegations he denied.

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1:44 p.m.

Indiana Sen. Joe Donnelly says a planned vote should be postponed on President Donald Trump's Supreme Court nominee, Judge Brett Kavanaugh, until Congress has time to review recent sexual misconduct allegations made against him.

The Senate Judiciary Committee was set for a Thursday vote.

A woman has come forward to say Kavanaugh sexually assaulted her more than 30 years ago when they were in high school. Republicans and Democrats have called for more time to review the claims made by the woman, Christine Blasey Ford — allegations that Kavanaugh denies.

Donnelly said in a statement Monday that the allegations are "serious" and merit further review.

The vulnerable Democrat is up for re-election this year. The campaign for his Republican rival, Mike Braun, did not respond to a request for comment on his support for Kavanaugh.

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11:52 a.m.

A key Republican senator, Susan Collins, says Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh and the woman accusing him of sexual misconduct should both testify under oath before the Senate Judiciary Committee.

Collins tweeted Monday that Christine Blasey Ford and Kavanaugh "should both testify."

The Maine Republican is a key swing vote on Kavanaugh's nomination. If she were to vote against Kavanaugh, the opposition of another Republican could block his nomination.

The Judiciary panel's chairman, Sen. Chuck Grassely of Iowa, wants Kavanaugh and Ford to be interviewed by phone by bipartisan staff. But Democrats say staff calls are insufficient and want the proceedings postponed so the FBI can investigate.

Ford says Kavanaugh sexually assaulted her at a party when they were teenagers. Kavanaugh denies the claim, calling it "completely false."

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11:35 a.m.

President Donald Trump's eldest son is appearing to mock a woman's sexual assault allegations against his father's nominee for the Supreme Court.

Christine Blasey Ford, a college professor, has come forth with an allegation that Brett Kavanaugh, the president's nominee, assaulted her at a party more than 30 years ago.

Donald Trump Jr. posted an image on Instagram Monday with the caption "Judge Kavanaugh sexual assault letter found by Dems..."

The photo attached shows a crumpled-up piece of notebook paper with a scribbled message: "Hi Cindy will you be my girlfriend, Love Bret."

The note has boxes to check for "yes" or "no" and seems to compares Kavanaugh's accuser to a school yard crush.

Trump Jr. also "liked" a tweet from conservative actor James Woods that compared the accusation to a #MeToo "lynching."

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11:22 a.m.

All 10 Senate Judiciary Committee Democrats want that panel's Republican chairman to postpone this week's planned committee vote on Brett Kavanaugh's nomination to the Supreme Court.

The Democrats have written Iowa GOP Sen. Charles Grassley saying delaying Thursday's hearing would give the FBI time to investigate allegations by a woman who says a drunk Kavanaugh sexually assaulted her at a party when both were in high school in the early 1980s.

The letter says there are serious questions about Kavanaugh's "record, truthfulness and character."

The White House and Kavanaugh deny any assault took place.

Grassley hasn't indicated he'd delay the committee vote.

Christine Blasey Ford described the alleged assault in an interview with The Washington Post published Sunday, complicating what had seemed to be a smooth path to Kavanaugh's Senate confirmation.

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10:55 a.m.

Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh has arrived at the White House amid scrutiny of a woman's claim he sexually assaulted her at a party when they were in high school.

Kavanaugh went to the West Wing on Monday shortly after issuing a strongly worded statement denying the woman's allegation and stressing his willingness to go before the Senate Judiciary Committee to "refute" it. It's unclear with whom he's meeting.

The White House is standing behind Kavanaugh as the allegation threatens his nomination.

The woman, Christine Blasey Ford, came forward Sunday in an interview with The Washington Post to say a drunken Kavanaugh groped her and tried to take off her clothes at a party when they were teenagers.

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10:30 a.m.

Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh is again denying a woman's allegation he sexually assaulted her at a party three decades ago.

The White House released a new statement Monday from the nominee in which he calls the claim "completely false." Kavanaugh says he never did what the accuser describes "to her or anyone."

The woman, Christine Blasey Ford, came forward Sunday in an interview with The Washington Post to say a drunken Kavanaugh groped her and tried to take off her clothes at a party when they were teenagers.

Kavanaugh says in the statement he "had no idea who was making this accusation until she identified herself."

Kavanaugh had been on a smooth confirmation track, but the new allegations have roiled that process.

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8:20 a.m.

White House counselor Kellyanne Conway says a woman accusing Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh of sexually assaulting her when they were in high school "should testify under oath and she should do it on Capitol Hill."

She says that's up to the Senate Judiciary Committee.

Conway told reporters Monday accuser Christine Blasey Ford should "not be ignored or insulted." Conway says Kavanaugh also should testify to the allegations, noting he has already provided testimony and has undergone FBI background checks.

Ford tells The Washington Post a drunken Kavanaugh groped her and tried to take off her clothes at a party when they were teenagers in the 1980s. Kavanaugh has "categorically" denied the allegations.

The White House says "Kavanaugh and the White House both stand by that statement."

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7:30 a.m.

A lawyer for a woman accusing Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh of sexually assaulting her when they were in high school says her client is willing to tell her story publicly to the Senate panel considering his nomination. She says the woman considers Kavanaugh's actions "attempted rape."

Debra Katz represents Christine Blasey Ford, who tells The Washington Post a drunken Kavanaugh groped her and tried to take off her clothes at a party when they were teenagers in the 1980s.

Katz told NBC's "Today" show she "clearly considers this an attempted rape."

Kavanaugh has "categorically" denied those allegations, a denial repeated Monday by the White House.

Katz tells ABC's "Good Morning America" the accuser is "willing to cooperate" with investigators and the Senate Judiciary Committee. She says Ford, a Democrat, isn't politically motivated.

The Republican-controlled Senate panel appears committed to a vote on Kavanaugh this week.

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This item has been corrected to show the spelling of the lawyer's name is Debra, not Deborah.

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12:30 a.m.

Judge Brett Kavanaugh's confirmation for the Supreme Court is taking an uncertain turn. Republican senators are expressing concern over a woman's private-turned-public allegation that a drunken Kavanaugh groped her and tried to take off her clothes at a party when they were teenagers.

The White House and other Kavanaugh supporters had dismissed the allegation of sexual misconduct when it was initially conveyed in a private letter. With a name and disturbing details, the accusation raised the prospect of congressional Republicans defending President Donald Trump's nominee ahead of midterm elections featuring an unprecedented number of female candidates and informed in part by the #MeToo movement.

The GOP-controlled Senate Judiciary Committee appears nonetheless committed to a vote later this week despite calls by Democrats to postpone the vote.