US Supreme Court nominee accuser agrees to testify

Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh waits to testify before the Senate Judiciary Committee for the third day of his confirmation hearing on Capitol Hill in Washington Sept. 6 2018

J. Scott Applewhite AP FILE

Ford alleges that Brett Kavanaugh drunkenly assaulted her at a party when he was 17, she was 15, and they were attending private schools outside Washington in the 1980s.

Senator Lindsey Graham says Brett Kavanaugh's accuser will be treated "respectfully" by the Senate Judiciary Committee, but both witnesses "will be challenged" over the sexual assault allegation from decades ago she's made against the Supreme Court nominee.

Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Chuck Grassley had requested that Ford respond to his invitation to testify before the Senate by Saturday afternoon.

Kavanaugh, a conservative federal appeals court judge, has denied the allegations and said he would be willing to testify.

The Committee had delayed a vote on Kavanaugh's confirmation after Christine Blasey Ford's allegations emerged last week.

Earlier in the night, Grassley said on Twitter that he had granted an extension to Ford after a 10 pm (0200 GMT Saturday) deadline he set to reach a deal with Ford's lawyers had passed.

The Republican majority on the judiciary committee had been arguing with Ford's lawyers about the details of Ford's appearance before the committee, such as the day of the hearing and how many cameras would be allowed into the chamber. "You couldn't get a warrant because the three people named by Dr. Ford as having been at the party outside of Kavanaugh all say they don't know what she's talking about", he said. With Republican Sens. Susan Collins of Maine, Lisa Murkowski of Alaska and Jeff Flake of Arizona saying they wanted to hear from Ford before voting, Grassley couldn't very well cut off discussion. An NBC News/Wall Street Journal poll released Thursday found that 38% of respondents opposed Kavanaugh's nomination, marking the first time since the poll began in 2005 that more Americans opposed a Supreme Court nomination than supported it. I want to hear her.

In their statement, Ford's attorneys said that lawmakers had "refused to invite other witnesses who are essential for a fair hearing that arrives at the truth about the sexual assault".

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The legal team said that "important progress" had been made with committee staffers after a week of negotiations over the format and conditions of her testimony.

Republicans will be forced to walk a careful line in questioning Ford's account without alienating female voters before the November congressional elections.

After several days of maintaining a relatively neutral posture, Trump on Friday declared that Ford could not be believed. The identity of the fourth person at the alleged party where Ford claims to have been assaulted turned out to be Leland Ingham Keyser, who describes herself as a "lifelong friend" of Ford's.

Earlier, Trump ended a week of constraint and sarcastically assailed Ford, tweeting that if the episode was "as bad as she says", she or "her loving parents" surely would have reported it to law enforcement. She has said that Ford feels rushed and is busy meeting with Federal Bureau of Investigation agents over death threats.

'There have been a lot of things said about the alcohol that was consumed by the judge as well as by others in his school.

Ford, a research psychologist at Palo Alto University in California, agreed to testify before the panel on Thursday and continue ironing out the details Sunday. Some handle it one way and some handle it the other way.

A senior White House official tells THE WEEKLY STANDARD: "This is not a yes". It's only after her testimony that a vote on Kavanaugh's confirmation can take place in the Senate.

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