Kavanaugh, Accuser to Testify Before Senate Panel Next Week

WASHINGTON (CN) – Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh and the professor who accuses him of sexually assaulting her when they were both in high school will testify before the Senate Judiciary Committee next Monday, Sept. 24.

The announcement came as Republican members of the panel met behind closed doors on Monday evening to discuss the path forward for Kavanaugh’s nomination.

Appearing on CBS This Morning, Katz, Marshall and Banks attorney Debra Katz said her client, Christine Blasey Ford, hopes to help the committee get a more complete picture of her allegations against Kavanaugh, which have suddenly imperiled what once seemed to be an inevitable confirmation.

“My client will do whatever is necessary to make sure that the Senate Judiciary Committee has the full story and the full set of allegations to allow them to make a fully informed decision,” Katz said Monday morning.

In a letter that found its way to Senator Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif., earlier this summer, Ford alleges that Kavanaugh, then a high school student a Georgetown Preparatory School in the Washington D.C., area, forced her into a bedroom during a party, then climbed on top of her and attempted to take off her clothes. Ford said she eventually escaped the room after Kavanaugh’s friend jumped on top of both of them.

Kavanaugh has denied the allegation and in a statement Monday said he would be willing to talk to senators to refute the charges against him.

“This is a completely false allegation,” Kavanaugh said in a statement Monday. “I have never done anything like what the accuser describes—to her or to anyone. Because this never happened, I had no idea who was making this accusation until she identified herself yesterday. I am willing to talk to the Senate Judiciary Committee in any way the Committee deems appropriate to refute this false allegation, from 36 years ago, and defend my integrity.”

Ford, who works as a professor at Palo Alto University, initially asked the letter detailing the alleged assault remain confidential, but she came forward to The Washington Post on Sunday after multiple outlets reported on the letter.

Ford’s allegations have put a fog over the future of Kavanaugh’s nomination. Senator Chuck Grassley, the Iowa Republican who chairs the committee, has been working to set up follow-up calls with Kavanaugh and Ford, though Feinstein, the top Democrat on the committee, has rejected this idea.

The Judiciary Committee was scheduled to vote on Kavanaugh’s nomination on Thursday.

Senator Jeff Flake, an Arizona Republican who sits on the Judiciary Committee, told Politico he would not be “comfortable voting yes” if the committee votes without hearing from Ford. If Flake were to vote no with all Democrats on the Judiciary Committee, Kavanaugh’s nomination would not be reported favorably to the floor.

Though the full Senate could still vote on the nomination without a favorable report from the committee, Flake’s call for more information would make that vote far from a certainty in the closely divided Senate, especially with Senators Bob Corker, R-Tenn., and Lisa Murkowski, R-Alaska, expressing similar concerns.

In a tweet Monday, Maine Senator Susan Collins, a key Republican vote in the Senate, said Ford and Kavanaugh “should both testify under oath” before the Judiciary Committee.

Responding to shouted questions from reporters Monday, President Donald Trump appeared open to delaying a vote on Kavanaugh’s nomination if senators find it necessary.

“I want him to go in at the absolute highest level,” Trump said, according to a White House pool report. “And I think to do that you have to go through this. If it takes a little delay, it’ll take a little delay.”

In a floor speech Monday, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., said the allegations were brought up in an “irregular manner,” citing the fact that Feinstein has been in possession of the letter for weeks but did not bring it up during either Kavanaugh’s marathon public hearing or in the committee’s closed session with the nominee.

He said he has “great confidence” in Grassley’s ability to handle how Kavanaugh’s nomination should proceed.

Senator John Kennedy, a Louisiana Republican who sits on the Judiciary Committee, told reporters Monday both Kavanaugh and Ford will have the chance to publicly discuss the accusations, but did not say when or in what forum.

“All I can tell you is we’re taking this seriously,” Kennedy told reporters. “There will be a full opportunity for both the accuser and the accused to be heard in public.”

Kennedy deferred further clarification to Grassley, who he said will be making a statement later in the day.

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