Tue, 07 Jul 2020

Kavanaugh, Ford to testify before Senate Judiciary Committee

By Sheetal Sukhija, New Mexico State News.Net
24 Sep 2018, 07:23 GMT+10

WASHINGTON, U.S. - Days after a university professor from California made accusations of sexual assault against Donald Trump's Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh, now, the accuser, Christine Blasey Ford has reportedly agreed to testify before the Senate.

Last week, the 51-year-old research psychologist and university professor from northern California identified herself as the woman who had first, anonymously levelled accusations of sexual assault against Kavanaugh.

Ford has accused Kavanaugh of sexually assaulting her during their teenage years and spoke about the allegations publicly for the first time in an interview with The Washington Post. 

Since then, her accusations have been closely scrutinized and while Trump and some Republicans have accused Democrats and Ford of trying to delay Kavanaugh's confirmation process - many have been calling for Ford to publicly testify. 

Amid increasing calls to testify, Ford responded to the Senate judiciary committee in an email, in which her lawyers said that Ford "wishes to testify, provided that we can agree on terms that are fair and which ensure her safety."

Ford's lawyers had also stressed that she is willing to cooperate but would prefer that the committee "allow for a full investigation prior to her testimony."

Following her demands, both the sides have held days of intense negotiations and while U.S. Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Chuck Grassley had initially tried to schedule the hearing for Monday - Ford's attorney tried to push back the hearing date. 

Ford and several Democrats, including former Presidential candidate Hillary Clinton, called on the FBI to launch an investigation into her claims.

However, FBI has clarified that it is not investigating the case.

Amid a heated debate over the handling of the case and protesters staging demonstrations outside the Senate building, some Republicans including the U.S. President Donald Trump raised doubts about Ford's accusations and its timing. 

Casting doubt on the allegations, on Friday, Trump said that the judge had been treated "very, very tough."

Trump tweeted, "I have no doubt that, if the attack on Dr Ford was as bad as she says, charges would have been immediately filed with local law enforcement authorities by either her or her loving parents. I ask that she bring those filings forward so that we can learn date, time, and place!"

Further, Vice President Mike Pence too defended Kavanaugh, calling the Supreme Court nominee "a man of integrity with impeccable credentials."

Pence said in a statement that the judge's record and career deserved "the respect of every member of the United States Senate."

Subsequently, Ford's lawyers said that she had "been the target of vicious harassment" in the wake of her claims and was forced to leave her home.

Yet, in a bid to give Ford a chance to talk and also to avoid the scandal from derailing Kavanaugh's confirmation process - Grassley set a Saturday afternoon deadline for Ford to decide on if and how she will give evidence to the Senate panel over her accusations.

On Saturday, Ford issued a statement saying she agreed to tell her story before the Senate.

Her lawyers, Debra Katz and Lisa Banks said in the statement, "Dr Ford accepts the committee's request to provide her first-hand knowledge of Brett Kavanaugh's sexual misconduct next week."

They added that they are "hopeful that we can reach agreement on details" of Ford's appearance.

Meanwhile, Kavanaugh, who is a District of Columbia Circuit Court of Appeals judge, has maintained his denial over the accusation.

He has also pledged to testify.

Even though Democrats continued to stand by Ford's demand that the FBI first investigate her account before a hearing is held, Republicans continued to refuse the demand.

However, following negotiations between Grassley and Ford's legal team, the Senator announced that he is planning a hearing, in which both Kavanaugh and Ford have been invited.

Subsequently, on Sunday, reports confirmed that the Senate Judiciary Committee had committed to a public hearing to be held on Thursday to question Kavanaugh and Ford about her accusations.

In a statement, Ford's attorneys said, "We committed to moving forward with an open hearing on Thursday, September 27 at 10 am." 

The statement pointed out that Ford agreed to appear before the Senate, even though the committee had refused to let her speak after Kavanaugh's testimony.

They said that the committee had also refused to interview other people that she said were present at the party in 1982, where she alleges Kavanaugh assaulted her.

Further, in their statement, Ford's attorneys said that they had not been informed whether Republican staffers or senators would be asking her questions.

Reports also stated that Grassley addressed an email to Ford, thanking her for accepting the invitation.

According to sources, he reminded her attorneys in the email that "the committee determines which witnesses to call, how many witnesses to call, and what order to call them and who will question them. These are non-negotiable."

In her accusations against Kavanaugh, Ford has previously revealed that when they were teenagers, they attended a party in Maryland, claiming that he forced her onto a bed, groped her, tried to take off her clothes and even covered her mouth with his hand when she tried to scream.


More on this story:

Kavanaugh accuser will testify if her safety is ensured

Kavanaugh accuser goes public, confirmation process at risk

Trump's Supreme Court pick set to unleash ferocious battle

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