Kavanaugh's accuser willing to talk to Congress, lawyer says

Kavanaugh denies high school assault allegation

The confirmation fight comes just weeks before the November 6 congressional elections in which Democrats are seeking to take control of Congress from Trump's party and work to stymie the president's agenda.

The GOP-controlled Senate Judiciary Committee appeared nonetheless committed to a vote later this week despite Ford's account in The Washington Post.

Debra S. Katz, Ford's attorney, said on NBC's "Today" show that Ford was ready to testify publicly to the Judiciary panel, but she did not respond Monday evening to efforts to learn whether she would appear.

The letter, obtained by CNN, capped off a day of uncertainty around the planned hearing for Monday morning, which Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Chuck Grassley had said he would hold to hear from both Ford and Kavanaugh, who denies the allegations.

The statement made no mention of whether Ford would testify, the Post said.

Brett Kavanaugh physically and sexually assaulted me during high school in the early 1980's.

One of Grassley's Republican colleagues on the Judiciary Committee left the door open to further hearings about Ford's allegations.

Ford settled in the Silicon Valley in the 1990s, when the first wave of the tech boom was transforming lives around her and startups were replacing peach orchards.

We would welcome the opportunity to talk with you and Ranking Member Feinstein to discuss reasonable steps as to how Dr. Ford can cooperate while also taking care of her own health and security.

Speaking publicly for the first time, Ford said that one summer in the early 1980s, Kavanaugh and a friend - both "stumbling drunk, " Ford alleges - corralled her into a bedroom during a gathering of teenagers at a house in Montgomery County. Thomas was ultimately approved on a narrow 52-48 vote in the full Senate. If so, it will elevate the debate on Kavanaugh from a Washington squabble to a national zeitgeist moment.

The Washington Post published a story Sunday afternoon that included an on-the-record interview with Ford.

There was no immediate reaction from Trump to the latest developments.

"This woman should not be insulted and she should not be ignored", Conway told Fox News. "I want to hear from her, if she wants to speak, and I want to hear from [Kavanaugh]". For any woman, sharing an experience involving sexual assault - particularly when it involves a politically connected man with influence, authority and power- is extraordinarily hard. Now, there are ways around that, yes, but it all takes time. How does this change the politics around his possible confirmation? The Republicans move in lockstep, and so do the Democrats.

NPR has reached out to Republican Senators Susan Collins of ME and Lisa Murkowski of Alaska - both key votes on Kavanaugh's nomination in the narrowly divided Senate - but neither responded with any comment on the allegations by Ford. California Sen. Dianne Feinstein had known about the allegations for weeks, but did not bring them up during the confirmation hearings.

"She is very friendly, outgoing and brilliant, and she is a great mother", said clinical psychologist Erin Heinemeyer, a mentee of Ford's who is also a friend. She says Kavanaugh groped her over her clothes, grinded his body against hers and tried to take off her one-piece swimsuit and the outfit she wore over it. Kavanaugh covered her mouth with his hand when she tried to scream, she says, and she escaped when the friend, Mark Judge, jumped on them.

The White House would not comment further.

Democrats have sought to slow the confirmation process, in part because they have asked to review the full paper trail in his legal career - which includes a stint as staff secretary for President George W. Bush, a position that gave him access to screening and editing documents given to Bush. Trump said he did not meet with his nominee and declined to say whether Kavanaugh had offered to withdraw, dismissing the question as "ridiculous". "This is not a man who deserves this", he said at a news conference at the White House.

Will they stick together in the view that Kavanaugh is being unfairly treated on accusations that date from decades ago?

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

Presidential nominations often unfold according to an intangible logic. Susan Collins is a Republican Senator from Maine.

If those two senators oppose Kavanaugh and all of the Democrats stick together, his nomination could be defeated.

Ms Katz also denied that Ms Ford, a Democrat, is politically motivated.

A spokesman for the Senate Judiciary Committee said late Sunday that Grassley is trying to arrange separate, follow-up calls with Kavanaugh and Ford, but just for aides to Grassley and Feinstein, before Thursday's scheduled vote.

If the Judiciary committee's timetable slips further, it would become increasingly hard for Republicans to schedule a vote before the November 6 elections, in which congressional control will be at stake. Lindsey Graham raised the possibility that the committee should hear testimony from Ford.

Sen. Lisa Murkowski, R-Alaska, who is not on the committee but is a key undecided vote on Kavanaugh's nomination, told CNN a delay may be necessary. "I wish I could wave a magic wand and have it go back to the way it was", said the 85-year-old jurist. "So it kind of raises the question, do they want to come to the public hearing or not?" The hearings are now over, and if there is real substance to this, it demands a response.

Sen. Jeff Flake, R-Arizona, sits on the Judiciary Committee and had previously said the committee should hold off on voting until they hear from the accuser. Jeff Flake of Arizona and Lindsey Graham of SC, said they wanted to hear more from Ford. After a lifetime of good service, Kavanaugh is being thrown under the bus of a single vague accusation.

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