Christine Blasey Ford on Saturday said she would accept the Senate Judiciary Committee’s request to discuss an alleged sexual assault by Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh, although the terms under which she might testify remained unclear as of mid-afternoon.
In a letter to the committee, Ford’s lawyers said that she “accepts” the request to provide “her first-hand knowledge of Brett Kavanaugh’s sexual misconduct next week” after Republicans on the committee set a 2:30 p.m. deadline for her to say whether or not she would do so. Committee Chairman Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa, had said a vote would proceed if Ford did not respond by the cutoff time.
However, it was not clear on what terms Ford would agree to tell her side, something that has been a subject of debate between Ford’s team and committee Republicans. In the letter, Ford’s lawyers said “many aspects of the proposal you provided … are fundamentally inconsistent with the Committee’s promise of a fair, impartial investigation into her allegations” but expressed hope that an agreement would be reached.
Fox News was told that Debra Katz, one of the lawyers representing Ford, requested that a hearing be set for Thursday — a request the Republicans on the committee had initially rejected, offering Wednesday instead.
Grassley did not immediately respond to the letter, but a senior White House official told Fox News that it represented a request to continue negotiations without any firm commitment.
“It’s a clever way to push off the vote Monday without committing to appear Wednesday,” the official said.
Sen. Orrin Hatch, R-Utah, who sits on the committee, tweeted that “we are no closer to hearing from Dr. Ford than we were when her lawyers said Dr. Ford was willing to testify during their media tour 6 days ago.”
Ford alleges that Kavanaugh assaulted her during a house party in high school in the 1980s. Kavanaugh has repeatedly denied the allegation. Democrats have called for the vote on his confirmation to the nation’s highest court to be delayed pending a full FBI investigation, something that Republicans have dismissed as unnecessary.
Republicans have accused Democrats of sitting on the allegation during the hearings and looking to delay the vote until after the midterms in November. They say they have also accepted a number of demands from Ford for her testimony, but rejected others, calling them “unreasonable.”
Sen. Richard Blumenthal, D-Conn., said in a statement that he will support Ford’s “steadfast bravery against the arbitrary, unfair, irrational constraints set by Chairman Grassley.”
“I remain deeply disturbed by the conduct of my colleagues over the last week, and am committed to ensuring that Dr. Ford’s safety and security is made a top priority,” he said.
Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse, D-R.I. said Ford had demonstrated “impressive courage” in her willingness to come forward, which came “in spite of Republicans’ astounding disregard for basic due process in failing to order the completion of a background investigation.”
“Even in accommodating Dr. Blasey Ford’s request for a few additional days, Chairman Grassley has rejected many of her reasonable requests to ensure a fair process,” his statement said. “Next week’s hearing, as currently contemplated, will be a kangaroo court, because the Republicans have done everything in their power to prevent the consideration of any outside evidence, whether corroborating or exculpatory. Republicans should respect Dr. Blasey Ford’s wishes, as they should respect the wishes of all victims of sexual assault.”
Sen. Patty Murray, D-Wash., similarly commended Ford for her “brave decision to testify.”
“Dr. Ford has made the brave decision to testify and share her experience of being sexually assaulted by Judge Kavanaugh,” she tweeted. “I hope Senate Republicans now agree to listen and treat her fairly and with respect.”
Fox News’ Chad Pergram, Matt Leach and Elizabeth Zwirz contributed to this report.